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EACEA National Policies Platform


2. Voluntary Activities

2.4 Youth volunteering at national level

Last update: 28 November 2023
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  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

There is no national programme for youth volunteering in Iceland. 


Does not apply.

Characteristics of youth volunteering

There are no official statistics on the level of participation of young people in volunteering in Iceland. There are furthermore no laws or regulations that identify specific target groups within the youth population who participate in voluntary activities.

Few organisations specifically target youth volunteering in Iceland but organisations such as sport-related organisations, volunteering organisations, religion-based organisations, humanitarian and rescue-based organisations have youth programmes mainly for young people 16/18 to 30 years old.

Each organisation has their own regulations and laws which are established to protect and serve the youth in the organisation. These laws need to follow the national law on protection of children but are otherwise decided by the organisations themselves. 

Low percentage of youth volunteering

Main sources of information on participation of youth in voluntary activities can be found in studies and articles. These studies have shown that women are in majority when it comes to volunteering and that the percentage of youth in volunteering is rather low.  

An article on participation in voluntary work was published in 2014 in the Icelandic Review of Politics and Administration According to the research most volunteer within sports clubs, or one in ten. The next highest participation rate was in humanitarian organisations, or around 6%, and the rest in cultural, rescue organisations and religious organisations with 4% participation.

The research also showed that just under one third of the population that had reached 18 years of age had done some sort of voluntary work in 2009-2010. The age division of participating volunteers was as follows: age 18 to 29 was 26%, 30-49 year olds 42% and 50 years and older 32%. (Hrafnsdottir, Jónsdóttir and Kristmundsson et al. 2014).  

A study from 1994 shows that women are in majority when it comes to volunteering or 70% and that only 11% of volunteers were 25 years and younger and 16% were between the ages of 25 and 39 years. (Júlíusdóttir and Sigurðardóttir et al. 1994).

In a study from 2006 on the Red Cross volunteers the total number of participants was 827 volunteers. The results showed that 70% of all volunteers were women. With the lowest number of volunteers between the age of 18 and 24 or 12.5% (Hrafnsdóttir et al. 2006).


Support to young volunteers

Within the Erasmus+ programme the volunteers are insured, given pocket money, given travel support funding and should be housed and fed.

All volunteers, whether they come from Europe or outside Europe, need a social security number and are registered in Iceland. When six months have passed the volunteer is automatically registered in the Icelandic health system and will receive the same benefits as Icelanders within the healthcare system.

If volunteers come to Iceland through other voluntary programmes beside Erasmus+ the volunteer will need to have insurance, either travel insurance when doing short-term volunteering, or through other means.  

Quality Assurance (QA)

There is no official monitoring or evaluation of volunteering activities other than that offered by Erasmus+ through its final reports.

These final reports are sent to which National Agency for Erasmus+Youth in Action(only in Icelandic) which reviews them and gives feed-back to the host and/or coordinating organisations.

Target groups

No official documents or information were found denoting target groups in youth volunteering. There are several factors which could explain why this is not done, or at least, not amounting to any national targeting campaign: unemployment among young people in Iceland is very low (see introduction to chapter 3 for further clarification) and there are many options for young people to re-enter education if they've fallen out during their upper-secondary education, or even earlier. Adult and ongiong education organizations such as Mímir and MSS, and other education organizations such as Keilir, offer young people and adults who have not finished upper secondary education preliminary courses into university studies. Reykjavík University offers people, including those who have completed these preliminary courses, further courses to fully prepare them for university studies.

Individual volunteer organizations have youth divisions where they specificcaly target young people, but do not target any specific subgroups. Among volunteer organizations with such divisions are youth groups within search and rescue operations and within Icelandic divisions of international organizations, such as  UN Women and UNICEF

In 2009, shortly after the economic downfall, the Ministry of Welfare and the Directorate of Labour launched a campaign specifically targeting unemployed young people. Among provisions offered were volunteer positions at various volunteer organizations.