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As mentioned in Youth Wiki/Finland Chapter 2 Voluntary Activities, youth organisations in Finland have a strong position in the field of youth policy, youth work and in society generally. Their activities are largely publically funded and supported, but not regulated, by the authorities. Youth organisations set their own objectives, which means that organisations enjoy a high level of autonomy. However, one of the most important laws regulating the activities of organisations is the Associations Act. On the other hand, the Youth Act specifies the objectives and values of youth work and youth policy. The aim of the Act is to support young people’s growth and independence and promote active citizenship.
National youth and youth work organisations are eligible to apply for state subsidies. In accordance with the Lotteries Act, proceeds from slot machines are used for awarding grants to charitable or other non-profit organisations and foundations that are legally recognised. According to the Act, the proceeds from pools and betting are used to promote sports and physical education, science, the arts, and youth work.
In accordance with the Youth Act, subsidies for youth and youth work organisations are allocated based on the organisation’s management of its finances, the nationwide coverage, quality, scope and social impact of its activities. The organisation should also promote non-discrimination, equality and social inclusion through its activities and otherwise pursue the objectives and promote the underlying principles set out in the Youth Act which include solidarity, cultural diversity and internationality; sustainable development, healthy lifestyles, respect for life and the environment; and cross-sectoral cooperation.
Further provisions concerning the performance criteria, acceptable expenditure, the procedure for approving the eligible organisations and other grounds for receiving the subsidy are set out in the Government Decree on Youth Work and Policy.
The Ministry of Education and Culture takes into account the type of youth work the organisation carries out, its sphere of activity, membership base and degree of volunteering and youth participation in its decision-making. The organisation’s own perspective is highly valued in this process. Additionally, the performance (quality, extent and cost-effectiveness of operations), as well as societal relevance of the activities, and the need for a subsidy are taken account when allocating funds.
The Finnish National Youth Council Allianssi has had an important role in developing the role of youth organisations in Finnish society. It is an umbrella organisation for 130 national youth organisations lobbying for their viewpoint and youth work in general in public decision-making. Its advocacy role is supported by the state. As described in the European Commission Mutual Learning Programme (Country report of Finland) Allianssi has succeeded in giving youth organisations a stronger (albeit single) voice within the national debate. The role of Allianssi in the Youth Guarantee process is highlighted in the programme as an example. The consultation and consensus-building process across the members of the Alliance takes place within a dedicated working committee amongst grassroots youth organisations. The committee provides an arena for exchange of ideas and proposals, and conclusions are then put forward by the representatives of Allianssi through the national Youth Guarantee working group.
In 2020, the Ministry of Education and Culture financially supports approximately 100 national youth organisations, youth work service organisations, and other organisations conducting youth work with a budget of approximately nineteen million euros. These organisations include political youth associations, youth representation organisations, youth leisure time and culture associations, religious youth associations, and child associations. These organisations receive funding from other sources as well (for more information, visit Youth Wiki/Finland 2.4 Youth volunteering at national level).
The Assessment and State Aid Commission annually submits a proposal to the Ministry of Education and Culture regarding the allocation of state subsidies to youth and youth work organisations. The members of the Commission are appointed by the Government following consultations with parties engaged in youth activities. The Commission members should be familiar with the operations of national youth work organisations and possess expertise in youth work, youth policy and youth activities (More information see Youth Act and Government Decree on Youth Work and Policy.)
Based on the Government Decree, an organisation can obtain the status of a national youth or youth work organisation if:
1) young people account for a minimum of two-thirds of the total number of members or the combined number of the individual members of district or local associations (youth organisation);
2) at least part of the activities consists of activities in which young people engage in voluntarily on their own terms and with respect to which young people exercise independent decision-making and have budgetary powers (organisation promoting youth work);
3) at least part of the activities consist of youth work and such activities can be clearly distinguished from other activities (organisation engaged in youth work);
4) its primary function is to offer services to youth work organisations, municipalities or other youth work entities (youth work services organisation).
Also, based on the Government Decree, when the quality of the organisation’s activities is assessed, due consideration is given to the regularity and permanency of its activities as well as to the management of its finances and administration. The amount of funding received from the ministry reflects also the organisation’s pledge and effort to support equality, equality between women and men, youth participation, and the other aims and premises enacted by Youth Act. The youth field, including voluntary activities, receives most of its public funding from lottery funds. (For more information, visit Youth Wiki/Finland 2.2 Administration and governance of youth volunteering.
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 the activities of youth organisations should be fostered. However, in accordance with the Government Decree, the grounds for approval to be identified as a national youth organisation, and therefore will be entitled to subsidies, are if the organisation is deemed to be nationally representative of a language, minority or other branch. This encourages the third sector to take minorities into consideration and supports their participation.
The Meaningful in Finland -action plan includes several measures to support and guide youth and educational organisations in preparing non-discrimination and equality plans, and in developing different forms of participation and increasing their knowledge of the rights and services of children and young people (for more information, visit Youth Wiki/Finland 4.4 Inclusive Programmes for Young People).
The Finnish National Youth Council Allianssi promotes equality and greater diversity in youth participation. Allianssi works with youth organisations, youth workers and young people to promote justice, equality, equal treatment, participation and tolerance. It supports and promotes youth organisations in preparing their own non-discrimination and equality plan by offering training, guidance and materials. These activities are in-line with the Non-Discrimination Act, as well as with equality materials and recommendations from the Ministry of Justice, which have been collected on a special 'Equality' website.