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EACEA National Policies Platform


2. Voluntary Activities

2.2 Administration and governance of youth volunteering

Last update: 11 January 2021
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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 fulfil general interest missions.

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


Main actors

The Ministry  in charge of  Youth

In France, the public authority with final responsibility for the non-profit and bénévolat sector is the ministry in charge of youth which also covers "voluntary organisations and non-formal education"  (Decree no. 2014-409 of 16 April 2014 and Decree no.2012-782 of May 2012 ). Currently, the Ministry in charge of youth is the Ministry of national Education.

  • The ministry defines and impulses financial and administrative support policies bearing on bénévolat and volunteering.

Under the aegis of the ministry, the DJEPVA - Department (directorate) for Youth, Non-Formal Education and Voluntary Organisations and in particular the Sub-Division for Cross-Ministerial Youth Policies and Voluntary Organisations implements guidelines for non-profit organisations and bénévolat/volunteering and coordinates cross-ministerial actions for non-profit organisations and bénévolat.

This sub-directorate operates a fund dedicated to voluntary organisations, the FDVA – Voluntary Organisation Development Fund.

  • the FDVA is set up by Decree no.2011-2121 of 30 December 2011, which is designed to contribute to the development of non-profit organisations.

The fund finances training of bénévoles through grants to NGOs and promotes long-term bénévolat. Financing is allocated in the context of calls for projects, by decision of the Minister after consulting an advisory committee "bearing on the composition and jurisdiction of the advisory committee on funds for the development of voluntary organisations" (Order of 7 February 2012). The FDVA is present in the French regions through decentralised departments of the ministry for youth and voluntary organisations : regional and departmental directorates for youth, sport and social cohesion.

The funds have advisory committees whose members are drawn from national government, elected regional authorities and associations and are responsible for setting funding priorities and objectives.  160,000 volunteers per year receive training support from the FDVA. More than 10,000 projects receive FDVA support every year.

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 of the Interior


Public operator in the field of volunteering

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, in compliance with Decree no.2012-91 of 26 January 2012 bearing on public interest groups. the agency is under the responsibility of the ministry of youth.

The Agency’s role includes:

  • defining strategic guidelines and priority missions for Civic Service in compliance with the provisions of Article L. 120-2 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+ Programme. Since 1 January 2016, the Civic Service Agency has been responsible for implementation of the youth component of the European Commission’s Erasmus+ Programme. Erasmus + Youth and sports Agency is a part of the Civic Service Agency.


 The Cooperation Fund for Youth and Popular 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 an organisation set up in 2009 that aims to promote and develop different forms of international solidarity volunteering. It brings together 34 French organisations engaged in non-formal education and international solidarity and is supported by many partners: governments, communities and associations.The organisation also sends out international solidarity and civic service volunteers. It contributes to the public interest grouping of the Agence du Service Civique (Civic Service Agency).France Volontaires is also supported by the ministry of foreign affairs.

the NGO seeks to:

  • Work towards better knowledge and recognition of volunteering programmes;
  • Contribute to the quantitative and qualitative development of volunteering;
  • Support volunteer organisations in their missions (training, support of volunteers, etc.);
  • Participate in the consolidation of French public policy on 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, the France Volontaires association 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.


The High Council for Voluntary Organisations

The High Council for Voluntary Organisation concretizes also the cross-sectorial cooperation between public and NGOs stakeholders.

The High Council for Voluntary Organisations (Haut-Conseil à la Vie Associative ) is an advisory body to which draft laws and decrees relating to the financing and organisation of non-profit organisations must be referred. The Council may "formulate objectives and make recommendations" on the non-profit sector, bénévolat in particular. It is chaired by the Prime Minister and is composed of 25 members from the world of voluntary organisations appointed for five years by the Prime Minister on the proposal of the Minister responsible for voluntary organisations. It is responsible for drafting assessments – appraisals of inventories on the non-profit sector, highlighting trends and issues involved in voluntary organisations and bénévolat.