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The Swedish Government encourages and supports youth volunteering mainly through providing financial support to the civil society. Promoting voluntary activities of young people is considered important in order to support young people’s democratic commitment and active citizenship.
The most important income source for organisations in general is membership fees. Besides that, grants from the national or the local governments are important sources for funding. The Government or the Parliament agrees on directives for government grants. The directives identify those goals and results organisations should work towards if they are to apply for and receive funding. Local governments have the right of creating local regulatory tools for supporting local organisations.
Autonomy and independence are important principles in the government’s policy for civil society. This means that civil society organisations should be able to carry out their activities according to their own values based on independent decisions. The principle states that organisations should be able to act without compromising their relationships with the public sector or its public financial support. Unwarranted interference or control from the government or agencies should not occur.
Most volunteering activities that engage young people in Sweden are provided by civil society organisations, mostly in connection with member activitites. The government provides extensive support, in form of government grants, to civil society organisations, and especially to national youth organisations. All youth organisations on a national level, irrespective of the focus of their activities, are eligible for government grants, if the organisation is built on democratic principles, independent from a mother organisation and if at least 60 per cent of the members are young people. The size of the grant is based on the number of members and the scope of its activities.
The Division for Civil Society and National Minorities within the Ministry for Culture (Kulturdepartementet) is responsible for the coordination of the Government’s youth policy and issues affecting youth organisations and youth volunteering.
The Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society (Myndigheten för ungdoms- och civilsamhällesfrågor, MUCF) is the government agency for matters relating to youth policy and civil society.
The agency is responsible for the European Solidarity Corps programme, and has since the start of the earlier European Voluntary Service programme built up a broad competence concerning volunteer exchanges. The agency is also responsible for distributing government grants to youth organisations. All organisations receiving funds are carrying out different kinds of voluntary work. A number of these youth organisations are also providing some form of exchange activity with other countries.
Main non-public actors
The National Council of Swedish Youth Organisations, LSU, is a coordinating body for about 100 Swedish youth organisations. The members consist of all kinds of organisations, from political youth leagues, student movements and faith organisations to leisure and hobby oriented organisations. LSU operates as a platform on issues concerning youth, both international and national, and provides a network for national as well as international organisations dealing with youth issues.
Forum (the National Forum for Voluntary Organisations) is an umbrella organisation for voluntary social work in Sweden and has about 30 member organisations. Forum provides a platform for exchange of experiences and competence development among their members, and also works with EU-coordination for Swedish civil society organisations. Forum is also running an EU-network as well as Volontärbyrån (Volunteer agency). Volontärbyrån coordinates and matches voluntary tasks with volunteers.
Riksidrottsförbundet (the Swedish Sports Confederation) is the umbrella organisation of the Swedish sports movement. The main task for the Confederation is to provide support for their member organisations and to represent the sports movement. The Swedish Sports Confederation is also distributing government's grants to the sports and athletics associations. The sport movement is by far the largest domain for young people and in the Swedish civil society, and young people stand for a large share of voluntary work that take place during training, matches, competions and other member activities.
Forum Syd consists of about 200 civil society organisations in the field of international development cooperation. The organisation provides training, information and exchange of experiences to their members, of which many also operate at the national level with voluntary activities in the field of social work. Forum Syd has been commissioned by Sida (the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) to distribute financial support for Swedish organisations working with development cooperation.
In Sweden, there are at the moment no specific mechanisms of cross-sectorial cooperation between ministries, departments or agencies involved in defining policies and measures on youth volunteering.