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


EACEA National Policies Platform


2. Voluntary Activities

2.4 Youth volunteering at national level

Last update: 28 November 2023
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


As the State’s role is to financially support non-profit organisations in their actions and promote voluntary work, there is no public national bénévolat programme for young people. Nevertheless, owing to their independence, non-profit organisations have the possibility of developing and implementing their own bénévolat schemes and programmes.

The situation is different for volunteer programmes and schemes that are defined, developed and supervised by public authorities such as the Ministry of National Education and Youth and the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, which funds international volunteer programmes.


Civic service and universal national service are two of the major national programmes for voluntary engagement of young people.


Civic Service

Definition of the civic service

One of the key commitment programmes set up by the State is Civic Service (Service Civique). This cross-ministerial and crosscutting system plays a pre-eminent role in youth policy. It was created by Law 2010-2041 of 10 March 2010 bearing on civic service, enacted on 13 May 2010.

Civic Service is a programme designed for the civic commitment by young people aged 16 to 25, as well as by young people with disabilities aged 16 to 30without any qualification conditions. Missions typically last between 6 to 12 months with at least 24 hours per week, for "non-profit organisations or legal entities governed by public law" having received civic service approval to accomplish general interest missions of  educational, environmental, scientific, social, sporting, family or vivil security or prevention, Francophonie and French language promotion, etc".

The vommitment leads to payment of an allowance of €489,59 net per month paid by the State, and additional support in cash or kind paid for by the host organisation (€111,35). It entitles the volunteer to social protection funded by the State. The commitment is compatible with continuation of education or a part-time job.

Civic service missions are characterised by their great diversity in terms of location and activities on offer. Missions include (examples) :

  • the organisation of the Conference On Youth (COY11) connected with the 2015 COP21 held in Paris,
  • the facilitation of language support workshops in voluntary organisations,
  • the support to elderly people losing their autonomy in hospital, 
  • the organisation of actions encouraging the protection of biodiversity,
  • the support for access to and development and promotion of women’s sports.

The objective of civic service is to reinforce national cohesion by encouraging youth commitment to general interest service. It provides a form of commitment whereby young people can increase their self-confidence, useful skills and "know-ho-to-be" qualities in the personal and professional path.

ofessional skills and experience citizenship. Civic service is promoted by the Government, in particular because it is considered as an instrument for cohesion and social diversity insofar as all young people, regardless of their background and education, can benefit from it. Mainly operated on the national territory, the civic service can also be operated in foreign countries.



The authority that administers the commitment scheme is the Civic Service Agency (Agence du Service Civique ), which is under the supervision of the ministries in charge of youth and budget, which is a GIP (an organisation that brings together public and private partners that pool resources to implement general interest missions). The Civic Service Agency realizes missions of definition, management and monitoring of the civic service. Specifically, it should:

- Define the strategic orientations and priority missions of the Civic Service;

- To manage the approval and financial support provided by the State for the reception of volunteers in Civic Service;

- Promote and enhance the value of Civic Service, particularly with the public concerned, youth reception and guidance organisations, educational establishments and professional sectors;

- Ensure equal access to Civic Service for all citizens;

- Promote the connection of people interested in Civic Service with approved legal entities offering a Civic Service contract;

- To monitor and evaluate the implementation of Civic Service;

- Set up and monitor the conditions for ensuring the social mix of Service Civique beneficiaries;

- Animate the network of volunteers and former volunteers in Civic Service;

- Defining the content of the civic and citizenship training.

Since January 2016, the Agency for Civic Service is also:

  • The French national agency for the Erasmus+ programme in its youth section
  • The national point of contact for the Erasmus+ programme in its sports section
  • The French national agency for the European Solidarity Corps programme (since October 2018).


The Civic Service Agency is chaired by a director and has a Board of Directors composed of representatives of the Ministry in charge of Youth, the France Volontaires non-profit organisation and qualified stakeholders from the field of volunteering.

It also has a Strategic Committee that includes representatives of host organisations, young volunteers and parliamentarians, whose role is to deal with all matters relating to development of Civic Service and provide the Board of Directors with guidance. Implementation of missions is based on partnership between public and non-profit stakeholders.



The development of the civic service

Since its creation in 2010, the civic service has been extremely popular with non-profit associations and young people.  Since its creation in 2010, more than 200,000 young people have been involved in the civic service.  The momentum of this increase has continued, leading to a target of having 145,000 young volunteers involved in a project in 2020 and eventually 150,000 volunteers per year. The youth plan announced in July 2020 increased this target to 100,000 volunteers for 2021.



Information and data on Civic Service

Since its creation in 2010, the Civic Service has been acclaimed by associations and young people. Since its creation in 2010, more than 800,000 young people have been involved in Civic Service.  This dynamic is continuing with almost 145,000 new missions in 2021.

The Civic Service Agency is conducting several studies and surveys on its scheme, particularly its visibility, in order to assess its development.

In 2022, for the seventh consecutive year, the Ifop institute has carried out a barometer for the Civic Service Agency in order to better understand the perceptions and expectations of the public with regard to civic service, in particular among young people aged 16 to 25, but also among human resources managers:

In 2022, 92% of young people aged 16 to 25 have heard of this scheme. 84% of them would recommend this engagement experience.

Civic service has a positive image among 9 out of 10 young people and is "seen first as a way to gain experience and then as a way to become socially involved". Also according to this study, 56% of young people informed about civic service say they are interested in doing a civic service mission.

Among the ten areas of action proposed by civic service, young people cite the following preferences: sport (18%), the environment (17%), culture and leisure (15%) and health (13%).


  Source :


Universal National Service

Universal national service is aimed at all young people, boys and girls. It is currently being generalised and will eventually take the form of a compulsory one-month commitment between the ages of 15/16 and 18, as a continuation of the citizen's course, followed by a longer commitment on a voluntary basis, between the ages of 18 and 25. Its implementation has begun with a prefiguration from June 2019, concerning about 2000 young people. In 2021, 15,000 young people were included by extending the scheme first launched in 2019 to 13 departments. In 2021, these young people were welcomed in 122 centres located in all French departments and supervised by teams of around 3 000 supervisors.

The Universal National Service is aimed at all young French men and women aged between 15 and 17. The content of the cohesion stay and the mission of general interest aim to enable young participants to acquire a set of knowledge and skills, both practical and behavioural, around three major issues

- Strengthening the resilience of the nation

- Developing social cohesion

- Promoting a culture of commitment                                                            

It includes a cohesion stay, during which the young people are accommodated collectively for a fortnight and take part in introductions to first aid, citizenship, the highway code, physical and cohesion activities, discoveries of the local cultural heritage, etc., followed by a mission of general interest, during which the young people are responsible for providing assistance to a host structure (retirement home, association, uniformed corps, etc.) for a fortnight. Each young person can then pursue a period of commitment, from 3 months to 1 year, on a voluntary basis, between the ages of 16 and 25.

The Universal National Service has developed in 2022 with three sessions and 32,200 people welcomed in the centres. In 2023, it will continue to grow, with a view to its probable generalisation to all young people of a given age group in the years to come.



The civic reserves

The civic reserves were created by Law n°2017-86 “equality and citizenship” of 27 January 2017. It is a system offering general interest projects within non-profit associations and public bodies. It is organised according to specialised topics partly including those of the civic service: solidarity, health, education, culture and sport, the environment, history and citizenship, international development, emergency interventions.

It brings together existing citizen reserves (from defence, education and the police), as well as thematic areas yet to be defined. Since Decree n°2020-922 of 29 July 2020 on various systems of Universal National Service, a “universal national service” reserve has been created. It allows young people from 15 years old to carry out casual volunteer work as part of a general interest project. Due to the public health crisis, specific projects have been created as part of the civic reserve to meet the needs created by the crisis.


Site: Civic reserve


Volunteering of young firefighters

In addition to Civic Service volunteering, young people also have the opportunity to be volunteer Jeunes sapeurs-pompiers (JSPs-Young firefighters). The volunteering status of firefighters is defined by the Law no. 96-370 of 3 May 1996 and Law no. 2002-276 of 27 February 2002, included in the Code Général des Collectivités Territoriales (General Local Authorities Code).

The scheme is designed for young people aged 11 to 18 who want to discover the profession of firefighter. They must have a medical certificate proving their fitness delivered by a fire service doctor, parental permission if they are minors, and a valid tetanus vaccination certificate. They receive training alongside their schooling, on rescue, firefighting and protection of property and the environment, as well as sports training. (Decree no.2002-1480 of 20 December 2002 amending Decree no.2000-825 of 28 August 2000 bearing on training of young firefighters and organisation of the national fire service cadet diploma).  From the age of 16 onwards, JSPs have the opportunity to sit for the national young firefighters diploma, which is an asset for anyone interested in becoming a voluntary or professional firefighter. In January 2016, there were 27,800 young firefighters (JSPs) (girls and boys together).

The Ministry of the Interior manages the scheme in partnership with the ministry responsible for youth and non-profit partners: the Unions Départementales et Régionales de Sapeurs-pompiers (Départemental and Regional firefighter organisations)




National funding

The various financial efforts made by the State in implementing crosscutting (cross-ministerial) youth policy are the subject of a document appended to the annual draft Finance Law, with planned public expenditure and amounts of budgets allocated to the various action programmes. This is the Crosscutting Policy Document  provided for by Article 128 of amended Finance Law no.2005-1720 of 30 December 2005.

The cross-sectional policy document (DPT) for youth presents the total state investment in youth policies. It is gathers different financial programmes. The projected amount of the DPT for youth for 2022 is almost 104 billion euros.

Within the cross-cutting policy document, there is a financial programme specifically dedicated to associative life and youth policies: programme 163, which constitutes the budget of the Directorate for Youth, Non formal Education and Volunteering.

The programmes relating to the commitment of young people (volunteering and voluntary work) are financed under programme 163 "youth and associative life", which groups together part of the credits allocated to policies in favour of youth and the development of associative life.

- In 2022, programme 163, which amounts to more than 772 million euros, finances the following actions

- The development of civic service

- The development of associative life

- Actions in favour of youth and popular education

- Development of universal national service


Pour plus d’informations sur le financement des politiques de jeunesse voir 1.7




European funding

Led by the Civic Service Agency, the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) will benefit from 11 million euros of European funding in 2023


The European Solidarity Corps has two components: Volunteering and solidarity projects.

Characteristics of youth volunteering


The National institute for youth and popular education (INJEP), which is attached to the Ministry for youth, compiles and analyses statistical data on community and volunteer work among young people. This data, drawn from different ministerial statistical departments (SSM), makes it possible to create a report on the level of involvement (community and volunteer) among young French people, to identify the (social, etc.) characteristics of young volunteers and the interest raised by community and volunteer work.

The DJEPVA barometer on youth 2021 carried out (annually) by INJEP for DJEPVA in collaboration with Credoc, is based on an annual survey of 4,500 young French people aged between 18 and 30, selected according to the quota method (region, size of town, age, gender, socio-professional category). This survey highlighted the characteristics of the voluntary and associative commitment of young people in France:

- Volunteer work, with just over a third of young people involved (43%), remains, in 2020, the second most popular form of commitment among young French people; its trend has been slightly upward since 2016.

  • -In 2021, nearly one young person in two (48%) will volunteer their time to an association or other organisation (trade union, political party, etc.). The barometer notes, since the Covid-19 pandemic, an increase in the practice of volunteering among young French people (+5 points since 2019).
  • With more than a third of young volunteers involved, sport remains the preferred area of involvement for young French people (31% of volunteering by young French people). This finding is in line with that established by numerous surveys in France.
  • Youth and education (19%) has become the second most important area of involvement for young people - since 2021, it has overtaken culture and leisure, which accounts for 17% of young people's voluntary involvement. The social and solidarity field also represents 17% in 2021.
  • Furthermore, the environment is the area considered most attractive by young people volunteering or considering volunteering (22% in 2021).
  • Amongst young volunteers, the following are distinguished: "Regular" volunteers, with a commitment of several hours per week during the year (19%).
  • Regular" volunteers, with a commitment of several hours per month during the year (14%).
  • Occasional" volunteers, with a commitment at a specific time of the year or on the occasion of an event (15%).
  • And "episodic" volunteers (16%).


Source : Baromètre DJEPVA pour la jeunesse 2021, INJEP. Notes & rapports/rapport d’étude.


Civic service

The Civic Service Agency has its own statistical information (gender, age, etc.), collected in particular through the contract drawn up between the young person and the host structure approved by the Agency or through annual surveys. This enables it to identify certain demographic, social and territorial characteristics of the young people who benefit from the scheme, for example their average age or their level of education (data 2021 ):

- The average age of a young person engaged or volunteering for Civic Service is 21 years;

- Girls represent 61% of civic service volunteers;

- The proportion of young people with less than a baccalaureate level is 23%;

- In 2021, according to another Injep study, more than a third (34%) were involved in a mission in the field of education for all, devoted in particular to the fight against academic failure or to extra-curricular activities in schools or within associations;

- Solidarity missions are also frequent (28% of missions), with more than a quarter of volunteers working with vulnerable, precarious or isolated groups.

- The fields of sport, culture and the environment represent a total of 30% of Civic Service missions.

Source :,0%2C8%20%25)%2C%20le%20d%C3%A9veloppement

Support to young volunteers


Removing obstacles (economic and social alike) that prevent some young people from carrying out bénévolat work, and above all volunteer work, is a public goal which aims to increase volunnteering of all young people, especially young people with fewer opportunities. When they exist, support measures for young people largely depend on type of commitment:


There are very few schemes designed to materially or financially help young bénévoles, and none of them are mandatory. However, if volunteers are required to cover expenses themselves on behalf of the non-profit organisation, they may be reimbursed by the organisation responsible for defining the internal rules on reimbursement of expenses incurred by bénévoles (travel expenses).Non-profit organisations may reimburse expenses if they are:

  • actual: the task must have been accomplished (no fictional assignments);
  • supported by an invoice or miscellaneous receipts issued by retailers or service providers;
  • proportional to the activity.

Faced with this situation, volunteers have two options: either they ask the organisation to refund expenses incurred or they decide to waive reimbursement and donate it to the organisation. Also, if a non-profit organisation has adopted the decision at a general meeting, it may give its bénévole staff special payment vouchers or meal vouchers "to enable them to fully or partly cover the cost of restaurant meals" (Decree no.2006-1206 of 29 September 2006 sets the conditions for allocation of meal vouchers).

Bénévoles receive no social protection because they receive no financial compensation and do not contribute, unlike employees who benefit from the general social security scheme to which they are compulsorily affiliated. In the event of an accident occurring during their non-profit activity, the bénévole can claim "work accident" benefits unless the organisation has taken out “work accident" insurance that includes accident cover.


Civic Service

Civic Service commitment is eligible for full social protection funded directly by the State. Young volunteers can benefit from coverage of sickness. Furthermore, all completed Civic Service quarter-years are taken into account under pension insurance. The Civic Service does not provide entitlement to additional coverage for illness but, in order to facilitate access to voluntary supplementary health insurance, the Civic Service Agency has developed partnerships with two mutual benefit societies.

Volunteers receive a net minimum monthly allowance of €497.59 (1 July 2022). The host organisations should also give volunteers an allowance to cover their living expenses, amenities, accommodation and transport. The set minimum monthly allowance is €111.35. An additional, means-tested allowance of €107.68 per month may be awarded to young people in financial need (recipient of active solidarity income) or those who are recipients of a higher education grant.

If the volunteer is a jobseeker at the time of signing the contract and has acquired rights to compensation (aid to return to employment paid by Pôle Emploi , (the National Employment Agency) prior to the Civic Service, payment is suspended for the duration of the mission and resumes at the end of it. However, volunteers can stay registered at Pôle Emploi for the duration of their missions.


Other Volunteering schemes

As regards other voluntary schemes (VSI, ESC, VIA, etc.), social security cover and gratuities are included so there are no additional financial or material measures for young people experiencing financial difficulties.


 Local authority aid

 Some local authorities (local authorities are French administrative structures, separate from State administration whose representatives are elected and must uphold the interests of the local population) have set up their own aid or support schemes for young people who want to commit. They usually take the form of financial aid granted to young people in the context of an international mobility and solidarity project.


Target groups


One of the ministry in charge of youth’s policies is to promote international mobility of young people through volunteering, and diversify beneficiaries, including increasing access to young people with fewer opportunities.

Voluntary work

Voluntary work is accessible to all, regardless of age or level of qualification and whether in employment or not.

Junior associations


In France, the concept of "junior association" allows groups of young people under 18 with a project to benefit from a specific status and label giving them access to advantages (insurance, banking procedures).

Civic service

The civic service is a volunteering opportunity based on a principle of social diversity. It is accessible to all, from 16 to 25 years old (or up to 30 years old for those with a disability) with no need for a diploma, and also promotes the involvement of young people from rural areas for whom the offer of projects and receiving structures are insufficient, but also young people who live in disadvantaged urban areas that come under the jurisdiction of urban policy. The urban policy is “the national policy for urban cohesion and solidarity on a national and local level aimed at disadvantaged areas and their residents”

In 2021, the civic service welcomed 145,000 volunteers in 10,400 accredited organisations, bringing the number of young people involved since 2010 to over 800,000 volunteers.


Civic service volunteer programme for refugees

In France, the Interdepartmental Delegation for the Reception and Integration of Refugees and the Civic Service Agency have been managing a national volunteering programme for refugees, called Volont'R, since 2017

This programme is based on a dual proposal: on the one hand, to allow young French people aged 18 to 25 to engage in a civic service mission (volunteering) for the benefit of refugees, and on the other hand, to allow the engagement of young refugees, from the territory for less than five years, in civic service missions adapted to their situation. These missions last on average 8 months. The volunteer receives a monthly allowance. To ensure that mastery of the French language is not an obstacle to civic engagement, refugee volunteers follow French language courses throughout their voluntary service.

The missions proposed for refugees can cover all the themes of civic service (culture, sports, environment, etc.). Here are some examples of missions already proposed: accompanying asylum seekers and protected persons, promoting access to social and health rights for migrants, helping non-adult French speakers to become literate, etc.

The last call for expressions of interest for this programme was launched in June 2022.