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EACEA National Policies Platform


2. Voluntary Activities

2.4 Youth volunteering at national level

Last update: 14 March 2023
On this page
  1. National Programme for Youth Volunteering
  2. Funding
  3. Characteristics of youth volunteering
  4. Support to young volunteers
  5. Quality Assurance (QA)
  6. Target groups

National Programme for Youth Volunteering

There is no national programme for Youth Volunteering. The topic is mentioned the most in the new Youth Sector Development Plan 2021-2035 (Noortevaldkonna arengukava 2021-2035). The document brings out youth volunteering in four contexts:

  • youth volunteering is a way to encourage youth entrepreneurship, creativity and ideas;
  • youth volunteering is a way to empower young people to be active citizens, to participate and contribute meaningfully to the community;
  • the share of young people participating in voluntary activities is one indicator for the development plan's strategic goal no 2 (the starting ang goal levels are to be defined yet);
  • creating youth volunteering possibilities is a way to ensure quality youth work that is available equally in different regions.

Somehow we could consider some volunteer work program the measure of the Unemployment Insurance Foundation. Voluntary work is a service for individuals with decreased working ability. The Unemployment Insurance Fund has a number of volunteering partners, some that operate across Estonia and some that operate in certain counties only. A person can find out about volunteering opportunities near the place of residence. Individuals can participate in voluntary work for up to 3 months in a row and at a frequency of up to 5 times a week. Volunteering can not be performed in the form of work for which the person who is providing voluntary work has hired paid labour force. The Unemployment Insurance Fund provides commuting and accommodation benefits and a grant to people who do voluntary work. The payment of those benefits is based on correct documentation of participation.


As there is no national programme for Youth Volunteering, there is also no funding description available.

The Unemployment Insurance Fund voluntary work program is available for young people as well and is co-financed by the European Social Fund. 

Characteristics of youth volunteering

A statistical overview of volunteering in general and youth volunteering, in particular, is poor as young people constitute only a part of all volunteers. As the new development plan for youth field will dedicate one indicator to youth volunteering, there is hope that the data will be more accurate in the future. 

Compared to the previous nationwide representative survey conducted in October 2013, the share of young volunteers aged 15-24 has decreased from 22% to 19% of all volunteers in the country (based on the survey conducted in 2018). In 2018, 69% of the young people were volunteers. Young people are motivated to volunteer in order to get new knowledge, experience, and skills, and to spend their time pleasantly with friends and family. The reasons of not participating in voluntary activities are connected to the missing information regarding existing possibilities. This means that the full potential of youth volunteering is currently not being used.

Age group/yearVolunteer, aware of volunteering Volunteer, but not aware 
of volunteering
 Not a volunteer 
15-24 years old32%38%10%32%58%31%
25-34 years old22%32%5%21%73%47%
35-49 years old28%29%7%21%65%50%
50-64 years old19%26%4%18%77%56%
65-74 years old20%15%8%16%72%68%


The overall awareness level of volunteering is the highest amongst young people aged 15-24. Unfortunately, the same can be said about people who volunteer, but are not aware of them being volunteers. The amount of young people aged 15-24 not being volunteers has decreased from 58% in 2013 to 31% in 2018, which is the lowest percentage compared to other age groups.

Volunteering in youth work and volunteering with/for children ranking in the overall list of popularity of volunteering areas has decreased over years. In 2009, the percentage was 29%, in 2013 it was 23%, and in 2018 it was 19%. From the most recent volunteering experience fields, youth work has become more popular increasing from 9% in 2013 to 12% in 2018.

The next nationwide representative survey is to be conducted in 2023.

Support to young volunteers

The Network of Estonian Non-profit Organizations in cooperation with Estonian Youth Work Centre and the Ministry of Education and Research launched a programme “Kogukonnapraktika” (Eng. Community practice) in 2015. The aim of the programme was to introduce a practical community work as part of the curricula of civic education for upper secondary level. The cooperation programme provided students with the opportunity to experience a short-term practical voluntary work period. The program was supported by ESF and the state budget during the period 2015-2020. Starting in 2021, the Network of Nonprofit Organisations continues to carry out the program „Kogukonnapraktika“ through a strategic partnership with the Ministry of the Interior.


Quality Assurance (QA)

There is no single system of quality assurance/quality guidelines specific to youth volunteering. There is support for youth work quality initiated by Estonian Youth Work Centre (current Education and Youth Board) and there is a mechanism to monitor policy implementation, however, the quality of voluntary activities of young people in youth work are not specifically covered.

Target groups

As there are no regulations on youth volunteering, the target group for it is also not regulated or set. In the youth field, the target group is young people aged 7-26.