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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. Main actors


Over 5.6 million Dutch people are active in the voluntary effort sector. Society as a whole benefits from their unpaid activities.

Coordinating role

The Directorate Social Support (in Dutch: Directoraat Maatschappelijke Ondersteuning) of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport has no special policy concerning voluntary work among young people. Volunteers policy is decentralized. The department does have a coordinating role concerning voluntary work in the Central Government. This means that the department deliberates and discusses about relevant developments within the Central Government and with external actors in the field of voluntary activities and work.

Other ministerial departments are also part of volunteers work. For example, the Ministery of Justice and Security gives special attention to volunteers in the police force and the fire brigade. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment focuses on the link between paid labour and voluntary work.

As part of its coordinating role the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport subsidizes the volunteers umbrella organization  the Association of Dutch Voluntary Organizations (Vereniging Nederlandse Organisaties Vrijwilligerswerk (NOV). More information about NOV  under subheading ‘Actors’ in this paragraph.

Local context

Most of the voluntary work takes place within the local context in municipalities, in the combined action between volunteers, volunteers organizations, local organizations, companies and  local government. The Dutch government puts in every effort to help remove  legal bottlenecks and other limitations for volunteers, and works on innovating and facilitating volunteers policy. The cabinet invests in the collecting and dispersing of knowledge, information and good practices about volunteers and voluntary work, for example via Movisie Netherlands centre for social development (see par. 2.1) and the Association of Dutch Voluntary Organizations (Vereniging Nederlandse Organisaties Vrijwilligerswerk (NOV). More informationabout NOV can be found below in this paragraph. 

Volunteering close by (2015-2018)

The cabinet supported thirteen national volunteers’ organizations in care and welfare in the foure years programme Vrijwillig dichtbij (Volunteering close by). Goal was to equip volunteers in care and welfare with tools about all aspects of volunteering and to be able to anticipate changing demands. The thirteen organizations worked on better local cooperation and offered training and (individual) coaching to volunteers.

The research report On the other side of the fence concluded that volunteers receive a lot of appreciation but little recognition as an equal partner. The research was done bij the University of Humanistic Studies. They questioned 5264 volunteers in care and welfare and 592 coordinators of 14 national volunteer organizations. The research was about changes that volunteers (organisations) experience in their work when more was expected of volunteer work as a result of cutbacks and decentralization.


Main Actors

Association of Dutch Voluntary Organizations (NOV) (Vereniging Nederlandse Organisaties Vrijwilligerswerk (NOV)

NOV is the leading organization within the voluntary work sector of the Netherlands. NOV has 375 member organizations that work with or for volunteers. NOV is unique because it is the only organization in the Netherlands geared to strengthening voluntary effort and work. It has two kinds of members: organizations that perform voluntary work and those that fulfil a supporting or coordinating role. Main tasks:

  • To serve the interests of the voluntary work sector. NOV is the spokesperson and lobbyist of Dutch voluntary work and discussion partner of politicians, government officials and other policy-influencing parties. NOV provides solicited and unsolicited advice. 
  • To provide a major stimulus to voluntary work. NOV works towards more public recognition of voluntary work, and contributes to innovative initiatives.

NOV focuses on the voluntary work sector as such. The member organizations determine NOV’s future policies, and they are invited to make maximum use of  the networking role of  NOV.

Netherlands centre for social development (Movisie)

Movisie is the Netherlands centre for social development. Their mission is to promote the participation and independence of citizens by supporting and advising professional organizations, volunteer organizations and government institutions. Main tasks:

  • Five themes are central to their work: effectiveness; professionalization; participation; combating and preventing domestic and sexual violence; social care.
  • The expertise of Movisie ranges from active citizenship to client participation, and from combating domestic and sexual violence to effective interventions in the social sector.
  • The organization collects knowledge from abroad, to gain international inspiration and to place developments in the Netherlands in a broader international context.

Volunteers on the Move (Vrijwilligers Aan Zet)

 As a knowledge center for volunteers, Vrijwilligers Aan Zet offers a range of options to enable volunteers to function optimally in organizations. They work on:

  • Collecting and disseminating knowledge about working with volunteers;
  • Cooperating and connecting;
  • Offering training and tools;
  • Motivating organizations to work with volunteers.

Differences between older and younger generations

Research done by Motivaction (April 2023) by order of NOV shows that for older generations values such as solidarity, helping others and contributing to society are an important impulse for volunteering. Younger generations tend to focus more on individualistic values: more recognition and appreciation for the work within the voluntary organization. Also they would like more guidance, feedback on performance, personal development and to learn new skills.