Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Skip to main content
European Commission logo


EACEA National Policies Platform


2. Voluntary Activities

2.7 Social inclusion through volunteering

Last update: 20 June 2024
On this page
  1. Support to young volunteers
  2. Community building
  3. Tackling societal challenges

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. The Citizen Forum has started a national JEP-project (in Finnish) in 2021, which aims to increase volunteering opportunities for young people under age 18 by developing approachable, inclusive and attractive activities together with young people and professionals. The main target group is especially volunteer activity coordinators in various organisations. The project will last until June 2024.

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 Evangelical-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.

According to the National Youth Work and Policy Programme for the years 2024-2027 social inclusion will be supported in the implementation of youth programmes: 'Young people’s mobility within the EU and in third countries will be promoted through projects of the Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps programmes. Finland will strive to strengthen the perspective of inclusion in the implementation of mobility programmes for young people. The objective during the new programme period will be that the programmes intended for young people will reach new target groups better, including young people belonging to different cultural minorities or with disabilities, young people of different genders and, for example, those who live outside growth centres. Programme participants will be encouraged to use inclusion support where applicable.'

What comes to other types of support available for young volunteers, 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 a 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.

Community building

Voluntary work is mostly realised in third sector organisations, for whom the funding is often at least partly coming from public sources such as the state, the regional state authorities or the municipalities. The community-building aspect is included in the purpose of the Youth Act as ‘to support the growth, independence and sense of community of young people and facilitate the acquisition of knowledge and adoption of skills necessary for this purpose and ‘to support young people’s free-time pursuits and engagement in civic society.’ The Act also motivates the organisations to offer a variety of roles to young people, like the one of voluntary worker, by emphasising ‘the need to provide young people the opportunities for exerting an influence and improve their skills and capabilities to function in society.’ As one more aspect of community building, the Act also ‘promotes social inclusion’ and ‘non-discrimination and equality among young people and the realisation of their rights.’ Nowadays, local authorities are also increasingly recognising the third sector and voluntary work by mentioning their role in community building, integration and good relations in local strategies and, for example, in equality plans.

Tackling societal challenges

According to the National Youth Work and Policy Programme for the years 2024-2027, Finland will promote extensively young people’s opportunities for participating in decision-making that concerns them in different areas of civic life, including education and employment policy, climate change mitigation, and personal safety and physical integrity. Their opportunities for exerting influence will be supported at both the international and the national level, paying particular attention to young people who are in a vulnerable position.

As one of the examples of top-level actions and initiatives, the Agenda 2030 Youth Group was already established in spring 2017 under the Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development, led by the Prime Minister's Office. The Commission saw the need to increase youth participation in the national planning and implementation of the 2030 Agenda, which gave rise to the idea of creating a platform for young people interested in sustainable development; for more information, see the Agenda 2020 Youth Group website.