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EACEA National Policies Platform


2. Voluntary Activities

2.4 Youth volunteering at national level

Last update: 31 March 2021
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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, which is a general, nationwide programme, organised, funded and monitored by the State.

The Ministry of Social Rights and 2030 Agenda promotes specific projects of youth volunteering. Moreover, the Youth Institute (Instituto de la Juventud) offers specific programmes and information for youth volunteers nationwide.

The main volunteer program of the INJUVE is the International Volunteer Fields (Campos de Voluntariado Internacional) an ongoing program since 2012 that offers the opportunity of participating in volunteer projects in different countries. Aimed at young Spanish citizens between 18 and 30 years.

Other programs of the Ministry of Culture and Sports include FormARTE, with the objective of promoting the training of specialists in artistic matters, cultural management, archives, conservation and restoration, museology and librarianship, and CULTUREX, focused in practical formation on cultural management for the Spanish youth in cultural institutions abroad.

The Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (Ministerio para la Transición Ecológica y el Reto Demográfico) has developed its own volunteering projects. The Volunteer Program in National Parks (Programa de Voluntariado en Parques Naturales) is one of them with the objective of providing funding for the NGOs responsible for the volunteering activities. Also the Volunteer Program in Rivers (Programa de Voluntariado en Ríos) whose purpose is to increase the social participation in the conservation and improvement of the ecologic situation of the rivers in the watersheds managed by the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge.


As there is no national programme for youth volunteering, all information regarding this population group is included in the national programme coordinating all generic volunteering.

Due to the existence of state and autonomic programmes, it is difficult to make estimations for all volunteering activities undertaken. Moreover, also those organisations carrying out youth volunteering programmes receive financial aid both from the State and from the Autonomy, and this is the reason why we have to consider each Spanish public administration separately.

Financial aid for the development of volunteering projects comes mainly from the General Government Administration, Autonomic Administrations and local Entities.

In the national scope, there are several financial aid lines specially addressed to promoting youth associationism and volunteering.

First of all, financial aid for maintenance, functioning and equipment of youth associations, youth organisations and entities providing services to youth has to be mentioned.

Besides, within the scope of the Ministry of Social Rights and 2030 Agenda financial fund from the IRPF (Personal Income Tax System) assignment of tax has to be mentioned. It may be applied for by any entity considered to be an Entity from the Third Sector.

The Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AECID), under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, Unión Europea y Cooperación) offers funding programmes for volunteering entities, not only for the development of cooperation programmes in the field (abroad) but also for works carried out within their own headquarters as well as in projects development. With a budget in grants of 19,341,737.02 € to NGOs projects and 121M € for the period going between 2018-2021 destined to cooperation agreements of NGOs.

The Ministry of Culture and Sports (Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte) also offers financial aid for cultural volunteering in different Museums and activities related to Cultural and Historical Heritage.

As the grants in the FormARTE program funded with 557,500 €, from the budget of the Ministry of Culture and Sports, for the year 2019. Also the CULTUREX grants endowed with a budget of 159,190 € for 2019, from the Ministry of Culture and Sports.

Likewise, the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (Ministerio para la Transición Ecológica y el Reto Demográfico) also offers financial aid for environmental volunteering both within the state scope and in the Autonomous Regions.

At national level this ministry operates two programs of volunteering. The first initiative is the volunteer program in National Parks. A program equipped with a budget of 400,000 € in the year 2017, from the  budget of the Autonomous Organization of National Parks (Organismo Autónomo de Parques Naturales) assigned at the Ministry for the Ecological Transition.

The other initiative is the Volunteer Program in Rivers (Programa de Voluntariado en Ríos) funded through the Biodiversity Foundation (Fundación Biodiversidad), a public sector foundation. The budget handled by this entity for the mentioned project was for the year 2019 of 3 million €, from the budget of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge.

Moreover, the network Reducamar provides an inventory of a wide range of volunteering and trainning programmes at a national and regional level and free access educational ressources.

The Home Affairs Ministry (Ministerio del Interior) regulates volunteering activities concerning Civil Protection, developed mainly through provincial, regional and state networks, organised by volunteering groups; at a State level the National Association for Volunteer Groups (ANAV) is included in and promoted by the General Directorate of Civil Protection and Emergencies (Dirección General de Protección Civil y Emergencias), as well as the Civil Protection National School (Escuela Nacional de Protección Civil). All different levels of Civil Protection include, to a different extent, financially aided training, as well as equipment and financially aided resources for volunteering.

Characteristics of youth volunteering

In Spain there is not an official record of the level of participation of young people in volunteering apart from CIS Barometers, public opinion polls, that measures the participation and belonging to different associations, like volunteer associations.

According to the report “The Volunteer action in 2018” (La acción voluntaria en 2018) produced by the Spanish Volunteering Platform, 42.1 % of the Spanish population over 14 years of age collaborates in some way with NGO and 6.2 % are volunteers (data from October 2018). The highest percentage of volunteers is between 25 and 54 years of age. 12.1% of youth within this age group state that they belong to some volunteering organisation. In case of youth volunteering (between 14 and 24), there has been a decrease from 9.6% in 2014 to 4.9% in 2018. And the highest volunteering percentage is found in social volunteering, both for men and women.

The average volunteering figures show a participation of 8,5%. Student volunteers were the greatest youth group in 2016, with 14,1% of collaboration. However, there has been a drastic decrease in 2018, being only 5.2% of students engaged. Next in importance is the non-emancipated youth, with secondary school or university studies; people living on their own; and people with a high socioeconomic status.

As mentioned in the Volunteer Action 2017, the collaboration in NGOs is not located around the age group of 14 to 24 years, being the group with less participation in NGOs, as 73.3% of young people stated that they do not collaborate with a NGO in any form. However, participation by young people in NGOs tend to by volunteering, being the group age with more volunteers (6.9%).  

In the distribution of this population group by sex. Even though the highest type of volunteering for both sexes is Social Volunteering, with 51.8% in general, there are still notable differences regarding gender based on stereotypes. For instance, men tend to volunteer more in Civil protection and sports volunteering, where the percentage of men is 82.1% and 66.3% respectively, while women’s volunteering is higher in educational volunteering and socio-sanitary volunteering, where women made up the 66.2% and 70.6% in those areas.

Support to young volunteers

Institutional support for volunteers is included in Article 10 of volunteer’s rights in the Law 45/2015 (Ley 45/2015 del Voluntariado). They rely on an insurance against the risk of accidents and illness directly linked to the volunteer action paid by the volunteering entity, and volunteers must be refunded all expenses incurred in when carrying on their activities.

The report the Social Action Third Sector: The Impact of the Crisis” (El Tercer Sector de Acción Social en 2015: el Impacto de la Crisis, 2015) states that, insurance, which is compulsory, was taken into account in 2013 by 87.5% of the entities. In these last few years the insurance coverage has become steadier, but this has not reached the whole sector. This is, without a doubt, bad news, as this coverage is a compulsory feature. The expenses refund remains steady although it suffers a slight decrease of 2 points from 2010, as roughly seven out of ten entities take it into consideration. And finally, the volunteering commitment or engagement is implemented in 75% maintaining the figure steady with regard to 2010.

Quality Assurance (QA)

Quality in management and promotion of volunteering has to be linked to the own actions carried out by volunteers in associations. This action must be regulated by the very functioning regulations of the entities based in democratic principles, as well as complying with rights and responsibilities legally recognised (recognition, identification, information…) in the Law 45/2015. In the same law the public administrations compromise to support de volunteer organizations in the training of the volunteer to ensure its quality and accordance to the personal preferences of the volunteer. Finally, the Law 45/2015 establishes for the recipients of the voluntary action that those activities shall be developed according to programs that guarantee the quality of the performances of the volunteers.

Then there are sector specific tools. These are characterised by their specific scope on NGOs: on the one hand there is the standard “Quality NGO”, promoted by the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration (Ministerio de Inclusión, Seguridad Social y Migraciones) and oriented towards Social Action NGOs; on the other, quality standards for humanitarian organisations: Proyecto Esfera and Compas Qualité; and last UNE 165011 granting the necessary requirements for an ethical management. There are also ad-hoc tools for NGDO. This standard type is specific for the qualification process as NGDO elaborated by AECID.

Target groups

The mentioned Spanish law does not establish volunteering target groups and, as explained earlier, general legislation is applied. However, all measures, opportunities, exceptional nature matters, benefits, supports and rights foreseen in the applicable Spanish Legal System in force are to be applied to youth volunteering. Being “young and volunteer” is not incompatible with other activities carried out within the law, except for specific incompatibilities previewed in legislation.

The Youth Strategy 2020 (Estrategia Juventud 2020) developed through Action Plans also offers target groups explained in the axes of the project. The time frame of the project went from the year 2014 to the year 2020 and in 2018 was extended until 2027 by the European Commission. Since the Draft State Budget for 2021 was presented to the Cortes Generales on October 2020 and its adoption was approved in December, the activities, plans and actions carried out by the Injuve have a new budget assigned for the year 2021.