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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki
Finland

Finland

2. Voluntary Activities

2.4 Youth volunteering at national level

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 general, nation-wide programme for youth volunteering, which would be organised, funded, and monitored by the Finnish State. In this sense, Finland does not have a national strategy for youth volunteering.

Funding

Since there is no general, nation-wide Programme for youth volunteering, this is not strictly applicable. Although youth volunteering often takes place in the third sector, it should be emphasised that the public authorities do have an important role regarding the funding of youth volunteering. For example, the Ministry of Education and Culture allocates state aids to national youth work service organisations and organisations carrying out youth work. These include organisations that are involved in youth volunteering. For more information, see Youth Wiki/Finland 5.6 Supporting youth organisations and about forhcoming changes in funding Youth Wiki/Finland 1.9 Current debates and reforms.

Secondly, the most important funding sources of voluntary organisations include also membership fees, fundraising, donations, and service delivery. However, there are clear sectoral differences in the funding sources of voluntary organisations. Voluntary youth organisations are mostly funded by state subsidies, EU funds, foundations, state ministries and private sources.

A significant form of public support for sports is the tax-free nature of volunteer work. Non-profit organisations do not need to pay taxes on the income gained through fundraising, donations, membership fees, etc. as long as no individual receives direct personal benefit from it and that all the funds are used for the ‘common good’ - to support activities for the entire club or team.

The sources of funding of Finnish voluntary organisations are

  • Membership fees
  • Fundraising
  • Donations
  • The use of facilities free of charge, voluntary workforce
  • Income from service provision
  • Sale of products
  • Income from advertisements (e.g. in a magazine of a voluntary organisation)
  • Agreements with private companies
  • Grants from local and national authorities
  • Project funding
  • Capital income (e.g. rent income, etc.).

No conflicts of interest have been identified between the state aid rules and the allocation of grants and subsidies to voluntary organisations. One of the primary reasons for this is due to the long tradition of the activities of the voluntary sector. 

Characteristics of youth volunteering

In the publication “The Value of Volunteering" (in Finnish Vapaaehtoistyön arvo) of the Citizen Forum, edited by Sini Hirvonen and Satu Puolitaival (2019), the results from the study “Voluntarism in Finland 2018" realised by market research company Taloustutkimus have been summarised. It is found that about 30% of 15-24 year olds had volunteered in the four weeks prior in comparison with 40% of the entire population. However, when compared to the figures from 2015, the amount of young volunteering had tripled. Reasons for not volunteering are said to be: no time (45%), never asked (27%) and I don’t know how to get in (18%). While 70% of those not involved in volunteering, said they would participate if asked. Moreover, 75% of student claimed they would start volunteering if it were possible to have such activities included in studies. Regarding the new handbook on how to get young people into volunteering see also Youth Wiki/Finland 2.8 Current Debates and Reforms.

Support to young volunteers

The overall ethos of the Finnish voluntary sector is that everyone can volunteer regardless of their level of experience, skills, or background. This means that there are no minimum requirements for individuals to be able to participate in voluntary activities. One of the challenges, which volunteering faces in Finland, is that many administrative roles, even in small voluntary associations, require a high level of skills in order to deal with the increasingly complex bureaucracy and administration. Many youth organisations provide training for their members, and especially for members that volunteer as instructors or leaders. These education and training opportunities are one form of support for young volunteers. 

The Finnish Red Cross provides volunteers with training, support, and work counselling. The Evangelic-Lutheran Church arranges courses on social skills for young volunteers. The politically and religiously non-affiliated Prometheus Camps Association organises camps where young people can discuss and form their own world views. Once they have completed the camp, they can participate in organising and planning camps. The Guides and Scouts of Finland trains volunteers by offering peer instructors, with consideration for each age group.

In addition, the support of the municipalities (see Glossary) for those involved in volunteering (training, grants) is significant, especially in bigger cities and towns.

Almost all voluntary organisations provide insurance for their volunteers. The volunteer insurance system is well developed, easily available and relatively inexpensive. Some volunteering programmes might provide young volunteers with a little pocket money. The pocket money received by the volunteer cannot be regarded as valid salary. Furthermore, the work performed by a volunteer cannot replace the basic functions the organisation delivers. In practice, the legal status of volunteers is ambiguous. For example, volunteers are sometimes regarded as employees, and the European voluntary service has been treated according to the taxation practices of the Employment Contracts Act. The taxation of voluntary work is subject to a number of different interpretations.

Quality Assurance (QA)

There is no comprehensive system of quality assurance for evaluating voluntary activities at the national level. However, the subsidies for youth organisations must be allocated on the basis of performance. In other words, youth organisations must prove the quality of their actions in order to receive state subsidies (for more information, see Youth Wiki/Finland 5.6 Supporting youth organisations).

In addition, there are a variety of quality assurance systems and controls at both the local and regional levels. Most municipalities, organisations and cities provide their own system of quality assurance. 

Target groups

The Youth Act and the Government Decree on Youth Work and Youth Policy do not identify specific target groups within the youth population whose participation in voluntary activities will be fostered. 

However, in accordance with the Government Decree, grounds for approval to be identified as a national youth organisation, and therefore entitled to subsidies, can be departed from if an organisation can be deemed to be nationally representative of a language or other minority or a specific branch. Although this measure is not directly aimed at fostering participation in voluntary activities, it does take into consideration minorities in the third sector and supports their participation.

According to the Vetovoima project (Taavetti 2015) by the Finnish National Youth Council Allianssi, it seems that most youth organisations are not interested in targeting specific groups. Instead they often emphasise that their activities are open to all. On the other hand, the survey notes that young people who belong to minorities rarely participate in the activities of organisations, unless the organisation specifically targets them.