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EACEA National Policies Platform


2. Voluntary Activities

2.3 National strategy on youth volunteering

Last update: 30 March 2022
On this page
  1. Existence of a National Strategy
  2. Scope and contents
  3. Responsible authority
  4. Revisions/ Updates

National Programme for Youth Volunteering

As stated before in paragraph 2.1 there is no national stand-alone law on youth volunteering in the Netherlands. The national government supports all voluntary activities, but municipalities are responsible. Voluntary work is part of the kind of activities Dutch people are involved in. This voluntary work is bound to certain laws and regulations, all concerning compensation, accommodation, insurance and whether and how many hours somebody can work as a volunteer, as outlined in paragraph 2.4.

The focus of the Dutch government is access to education and work. Volunteering is part of the Social Support Act (2015) (Wet maatschappelijke ondersteuning 2015) and stimulates informal and formal social systems. The Social Support Act gives municipalities the assignment to connect with initiatives of citizens.

Since March 2020 all young people between 14 and 27 years old can voluntarily donate an amount of time to do social service. This way, central government simulates young people to discover, use and develop their skills and talents, to meet new people, to contribute to society, to strengthen civil society and to make choices for their future. See paragraph 2.4 for more information.

Scope and contents

There is no national strategy on youth volunteering in the Netherlands. As said before the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports (Ministerie van Volksgezondheid, Welzijn en Sport) is the responsible ministry on volunteering in general. The official information about volunteering can be found on the governmental website (only in Dutch).

Rules for volunteers and volunteer organisations

For volunteers and volunteer organisations various rules apply. A volunteer with an unemployment benefit for example, is obligated to apply for paid work. Also rules concerning the working conditions (in Dutch: Arbo) can apply. And there are behaviour rules to tackle sexual harassment and abuse within voluntary organisations. More information can be found under ‘Regulations for volunteers and volunteers’ organisations’ (Regels voor vrijwilligers en vrijwilligersorganisaties) on the governmental website.


Characteristics of youth volunteering

Statistics Netherlands (CBS) published the research paper Vrijwilligerswerk: activiteiten, duur en motieven (Voluntary work: activities, duration and motives) (Schmeets and Arends, July 2020). Over a period of 6 years (2013-2018) the response of more than 45.000 persons was available and analyzed. Almost half (48 percent) of the Dutch population of 15 years and older said in 2018 that they had been active as a volunteer for an organization or union, at least once a year. This percentage is fairly constant since 2013. 48.4% of all young people were involved in voluntary work. Most volunteers were active in sports clubs, schools, care and nursing, youth organizations and in religious or philosophical organizations. Volunteers spent an average of 4.4 hours a week doing voluntary work, with most hours (5.1) being spent in social care and the least hours (1.4) at school.

Support to young volunteers

In some cases young people get compensated for their voluntary work by the organization they work for. Also, under certain conditions they are exempted from paying income tax. Information about working as  a volunteer and taxes can be found on the website of the Tax and customs administration (Belastingdienst).

Quality Assurance (QA)

The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport has a coordinating role regarding the national policy for volunteer work. Several laws and regulations apply to different aspects of volunteer work:

  • The Act on Working Conditions.
  • The General Data Protection Regulation.
  • A police record check (free of charge) for volunteers working with vulnerable people.
  • A volunteering fee exempt from income tax, with a maximum of € 1.800 a year.
  • Specific rules for volunteers on benefits.
  • Rules of conduct and a road map to prevent and talk about inappropriate behavior in volunteer organizations, like bullying, sexual intimidation, aggression or discrimination. The products have been developed by the Association of Dutch Volunteer Organizations (Vereniging Nederlandse Organisaties Vrijwilligerswerk). 

The Association of Dutch Volunteer Organizations improves the quality of volunteer work by, among other things, offering manuals for the recruitment of volunteers, drafting a volunteer policy and volunteer management to volunteer organizations.

A social service programme for young people has been developed and is described in this section under 'Funding'. The development of social service projects in the experimental phase has been monitored. Their monitor’s results and recommendations for further improvement of social service have been described in the evaluation report Past the experimental phase: social service in the future.

Target groups

At national level Dutch government has made efforts to promote the opportunities and benefits of volunteering among all young people. Apart from social service, there are no measures taken to enhance the participation of specific groups of young people in voluntary activities.