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EACEA National Policies Platform


2. Voluntary Activities

2.2 Administration and governance of youth volunteering

Last update: 28 November 2023
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  1. Governance
  2. Cross-sectoral cooperation


It is necessary to look first at relations between non-profit organisations and the State to identify the governance of bénévolat and volunteering: non-profit organisations are regarded as interlocutors, autonomous organisations representing civil society, as well as partners of the State with which they contribute to the realization of general interest missions.

The public authorities participate in development of the non-profit sector by supporting it financially, by regulating its legal, legislative and administrative framework, as well as by promoting bénévolat and volunteering, and developing tools that are useful and necessary to non-profit organisations (guides, digital tools...).

Main actors

The Secretary of State in charge of the social and fair economy and volunteering

In France, since July 2022, a Secretary of State in charge of the social and fair economy and volunteering has been appointed to the Prime Minister. The Secretary of State and the Office of Associative Life, within the Directorate of Youth, Non formal Education and Volunteering, work in close collaboration to follow various orientations.

The Ministry  in charge of  Youth

Another major public authority in charge of associative life and volunteering is the Ministry of National Education and Youth, which is also in charge of implementing the policy in favour of volunteering and of voluntary commitment.

These two authorities work together to define and promote financial and administrative support policies for the development of associative life, volunteering and voluntary work.

Under the authority of the Ministry of Education and Youth, and the Secretary of State in charge of the social and fair economy and volunteering, the Directorate of Youth, Non formal Education and Volunteering (DJEPVA) implements guidelines relating to associations and volunteering and coordinates interministerial actions in favour of associations and volunteering.

The DJEPVA is responsible for "the coordination of actions in favour of associative life, European and international mobility of young people, voluntary work and voluntary commitment".

It ensures the operation of a fund dedicated to associative life: the fund for the development of associative life (FDVA), created by decree n°2011-2121 of 30 December 2011, modified by decree n°2018-460 of 8 June 2018. This fund contributes to the development of associations by allocating financial assistance to associations for the training of elected volunteers or those responsible for activities. This fund finances, in the form of subsidies to associations, training for volunteers (excluding sports associations) and the operation or innovative projects of associations (all fields of association).  They are awarded in the context of calls for projects.

 The fund has consultative committees that bring together the State, elected representatives of local authorities and associations, and which are responsible for establishing funding priorities and objectives. In 2021, 239,000 volunteers per year benefited from FDVA training aid. Nearly 13,400 associations and more than 14,250 actions have been supported.

The Ministry is also responsible for awarding and monitoring "youth and non formal education" approval, under which associations can apply for financial support and participation in consultation bodies.

Alongside the ministry responsible for youth, other ministries also contribute to implementing volunteer programmes (volunteer work for international solidarity, in companies, in public administration) by promoting or even funding them. These ministries include:

  • Ministry for foreign affairs
  • Ministry for higher education
  • Ministry for the economy and finance
  • Ministry for home affairs


Institutional public actors of volunteering policies


High Council for Volunteering

The High Council for Volunteering is a consultative body that must be consulted on draft laws and decrees relating to the financing and organisation of voluntary organisations. This council can "formulate objectives and recommendations" on the voluntary sector and in particular on volunteering. It is chaired by the Prime Minister and composed of 25 members (personalities from the voluntary sector) appointed for a period of five years by order of the Prime Minister, on the proposal of the Minister for Voluntary Organisations. Finally, this council is responsible for drawing up assessments of the voluntary sector, highlighting the development and challenges facing associations and the voluntary sector.

The Civic Service Agency

Civic Service Agency, (The Agence du Service Civique)  manages the setup and development of the civic service. Created on 12 May 2010, it is supervised by the ministry in charge of youth and is a public interest group. It enables public and private partners to pool resources for implementation of general interest missions.

The Agency’s role includes:

  • defining strategic guidelines and priority missions for Civic Service in compliance with the provisions of Article L. 120-1 of the Code du Service National (National Service Code).
  • promoting and making best use of Civic Service among particular target groups, host and youth guidance organisations, educational institutions and professional sectors;
  • ensuring equal access for all citizens to Civic Service;
  • monitoring and assessing implementation of the Civic Service;
  •  implementing and monitoring conditions for ensuring social diversity among Civic Service beneficiaries;
  • defining the content of civic and citizen training courses provided for in Article L. 120-14 of the Law of 10 March 2010 bearing on civic service”;
  • Implementing the youth component of the European Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps programmes.


 The Cooperation Fund for Youth and Non formal Education

The Cooperation Fund for Youth and Popular Education (FONJEP), created in 1964, is a body managed jointly by national government, local authorities and non-profit associations. Its objective is to bolster the development of non-profit youth volunteering projects and popular education. To achieve this objective, FONJEP covers five major areas of work:

  1. Developing dialogue and cooperation between actors
  2. Facilitating the roll-out of non-project youth volunteering projects
  3. Supporting international solidarity: FONJEP runs several international programmes for solidarity that are jointly funded by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Agence française de développement (AFD)
  4. Analysing and developing the socio-economic models of “Youth Popular Education” associations
  5. Preserving and highlighting the history of the popular education sector


France Volontaires


France Volontaires is a public interest group with the aim of promoting and developing the various forms of international solidarity volunteering. It brings together the State, local authorities and French associations involved in non-formal education and international solidarity.

 The objective of France Volontaires is to

- Work towards a better knowledge and recognition of volunteering;

- Contribute to the quantitative and qualitative development of volunteering;

- Support volunteer organisations in their mission (training, volunteer support);

- Participate in the consolidation of public policies in France in the field of volunteering.

France Volontaires is also a structure for sending international solidarity volunteers and civic service volunteers. It contributes to the public interest grouping (GIP) of the civic service agency.

The France Volontaires platform allows the promotion of international exchange and solidarity volunteering.


Main non-profit stakeholders: (indicative list)

France Bénévolat is a public utility organisation set up on 22 January 2010 with the aim of developing voluntary work, promoting general interest, putting people interested in  bénévolat assignment with voluntary organisations in touch with one another, as well as supporting such organisations by reinforcing recognition and promotion of their bénévoles


The Mouvement Associatif (Non-Profit Movement) is a federation bringing together 600,000 organisations. Its role is to act as a mouthpiece for voluntary organisations and set up permanent dialogue with public authorities. It represents almost one in two non-profit associations in France. The volunteer movement has four main objectives:

  1. Handling the challenges of community work
  2. Driving dynamics in volunteering
  3. Supporting non-profit associations
  4. Raising the profile of association-based volunteering work



La Fonda is a public utility organisation set up in the 1980s. Its role is also to "equip" non-profit stakeholders by conducting surveys, drafting reports and surveys on the non-profit sector and organizing participative events;


The Ligue de l’Enseignement (Education League) is a confederation of over 40,000 lay and non-formal education organisations, grouping together about 2,500,000 members and hundreds of thousands of bénévoles. Founded in 1866, it is one of the oldest non-formal education organisations still active in FranceIt encourages and supports local initiatives that enable general access to "education and culture in the recognition of cultural diversity" and encourage voluntary work. It is one of the public authorities’ special interlocutors.


The list may also be extended to include the main associations that encourage bénévolat and implement commitment schemes that cater to young people only (indicative list ):


The CNAJEP - Committee for National and International Relations between Youth and Non-Formal Education Organisations (Comité pour les relations Nationales et Internationales des Associations de Jeunesse et d’Education populaire ) promotes youth commitment to local and non-profit action. It brings together over 70 youth movements and ensures that associations are represented in dealings with the public authorities and in joint bodies. The CNAJEP also acts as an observatory and “laboratory for ideas” on youth, non-formal education and public policies, as well as being a vehicle for proactive dialogue with the public authorities on all these questions. The CNAJEP contributes to co-construction of public policies, managing national implementation of the “structured dialogue” decided upon by the Council of European Ministers, which adopted a resolution on 23 November 2015 aiming to “improve youth political participation in democratic life in Europe”.

The Forum Français de la Jeunesse  (FFJ – French Youth Forum) is one of the main stakeholders in youth participation. Set up in 2012, it is “an autonomous forum where France’s youth can express their ideas”, bringing together the main youth-led bodies (associations, unions, political parties’ youth branches, student insurance companies, etc.).

Animafac, is a national organisation that assists students in their non-profit projects, promotes involvement in higher education and has a non-profit network consisting of 5000 student organisations. It is a major stakeholder in civic service volunteering.



  Cross-sectoral cooperation


The implementation of systems for community and volunteer work is based on cross-sector cooperation that mobilises a range of actors who work together: ministries, public institutions and operators, associations and the entrepreneurship sector and the social and solidarity economy.  The results of this cooperation are the development, implementation and coordination of community and volunteer work programmes for young people, with data on volunteer activities also produced.

Example of cross-sector cooperation in the case of civic service:

The implementation of civic service is based on partnership work between public and community actors, as can be seen in the board of directors and the strategic committee of the service agency, which is responsible for managing the volunteer programme.

The Agency for Civic Service has a board of directors made up of members such as the minister for youth, France Volontaires and members who are recognised experts in the field of volunteer work. It also has a strategic committee that comprises representatives from organisations that take on youth volunteers, the youth volunteers themselves and members of parliament. The role of this committee is to address all questions related to the development of civic service and to offer guidance to the board of directors.

All objectives, actions and tools are submitted to the board of directors and debated and regularly updated by strategic committee working groups.


International cooperation


France has a number of bilateral cooperation programmes that include a development dimension based on volunteering.

The Franco-German Youth Office (OFAJ), supports each year a franco-german volunteering programme that benefited to more than 3,400 young French and German volunteers since its creation in 2006. 

In 2022, the OFAJ supported the mobility of nearly 63,000 young people. Of these, 22% are young people neither in employment nor in training (JAMO). This public, being the target, since 2015, of a "diversity and participation" strategy, represented 21% of exchanges in 2021 and 18.2% in 2018.

Franco-Italian cooperation also provides for the creation of a Franco-Italian civic service, following the Quirinal Treaty signed in 2021 and coming into force in 2023.