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EACEA National Policies Platform
Finland

Finland

2. Voluntary Activities

2.2 Administration and governance of youth volunteering

Last update: 28 November 2023
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  1. Governance
  2. Main actors

Governance

Youth volunteering in Finland often takes place in the non-governmental sector. A number of government bodies support volunteering as a part of their wider responsibilities, mostly by funding third sector organisations. The most important ministry is the Ministry of Education and Culture, which allocates appropriations for the youth sector. 

The youth field, including voluntary activities, receives most of its funding from the lottery funds. The Finnish Gaming Company Veikkaus owned by the state funds third sector organisations and therefore, the gambling industry is an important part of the funding of voluntary activities. In this sense, its role in the field of volunteering has been significant. Regarding forthcoming changes, see Youth Wiki/Finland 1.9 Current debates and reforms.

To summarise, voluntary activities in the youth sector are largely funded and supported, but not regulated, by the public authorities in Finland. The youth organisations set their own objectives, which means that the organisations enjoy a high level of autonomy. One of the most important laws regulating these organisations’ activities are the Youth Act and the Associations Act. The criteria by the Ministry of Education and Culture define which organisations are eligible to apply for state subsidies. The ministry also collects data on youth volunteering in the organisations that it supports.

The Advisory Board on Civil Society Policy KANE functions under the Ministry of Justice. KANE’s main purpose is the strengthening of cooperation between civil society and the public authorities. The Government Decree on the Advisory Board on Civil Society Policy (in Finnish) regulates its activities. In its action plan, the perspective of children and young people is taken into consideration.

Finnish National Agency for Education develops education and life-long learning as well as promotes international mobility and cooperation. It is the national agency of the Erasmus+ and gives information about the programme, provides assistance with the application process, manages the selection of projects, supports and monitors their implementation and gives out information on the results of the programme.

The Evangelical-Lutheran Church is both a civic activity forum and an organiser of services. Young volunteers have an important role in its activities and participate in organising confirmation camps. 

Municipalities (see Glossary) offer facilities, sometimes free of charge or at a discounted rate, for their use by voluntary organisations. For example, in the sports' sector, about three-quarters of sport facilities are run by municipalities. Municipalities also support the voluntary movement by developing and delivering training for many people that are involved in volunteer activities.

There are many non-public actors that take part in the implementation of youth volunteering. Organisations that are recognised as national youth organisations are eligible to receive state subsidies. These include ideological, political, sport, leisure, and student organisations. 

The Citizen Forum is an observer and promoter of civic activities, with cultural and civic work as two major strategic parts of its activities. It promotes voluntary activities and represents volunteers in working groups, committees named by the government. The Citizen Forum cooperates with the Finnish Parliament’s Support Group for Voluntary Work, the Advisory Board on Civil Society Policy (KANE) appointed by the Government and the NGO sector to clarify the legislation and make volunteering more accessible. Their media and campaign work aims at improving the visibility of voluntary activities in the national and local media, while their main annual campaigns are “Volunteer Day” and “Volunteer of the Year”.   

The Finnish National Youth Council Allianssi is a politically and religiously independent trustee with over 140 national youth and educational member organisations. The purpose of Allianssi is “to help young people develop into responsible members of society and promote their participation in decision-making and international activities” by advocating for the well-being of young people and for sufficient resources for the youth sector. Allianssi serves actors in the youth sector and youth work in organisations, municipalities and parishes and co-operates with Allianssi Youth Exchange -organisation for offering volunteering programmes abroad. 

The Prometheus Camps Association organises politically and religiously non-affiliated camps for young people. Around 600-700 volunteers participate in its activities annually.

The Guides and Scouts of Finland and Youth Academy offer many possibilities for young volunteers. Since 2018, they have both been working as youth work centres of expertise. For more about the youth work centres of expertise for the years 2020-2024, see Youth Wiki/Finland 1.4 Youth policy decision-making and Youth Wiki/Finland 2.7 Skills recognition.

Cross-sectoral cooperation 

As mentioned above, public authorities do not organise youth volunteering in Finland, but they do support it in many ways. Therefore, youth volunteering is based on cross-sectoral cooperation between public authorities and civil society; public authorities are funding and supporting operations of youth organisations, which offer volunteering possibilities for young people.

Overall, cross-sectoral cooperation is highly valued in Finnish youth policy, and youth volunteering is not an exception to this. Several ministries are responsible for policy areas concerning young people. Besides the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Justice, these ministries include the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The National Youth Work and Policy Programme, which renews guidelines for Finnish youth policy every four years, is a statutory cross-sectoral programme. For more information, see Youth Wiki/Finland 1.3 National Youth Strategy.