Volunteering in Finland and Europe
Definition of volunteering
According to the European Youth Forum an activity can only be defined as volunteering if it is:
- undertaken of a person’s own free will and involves the commitment of time and energy to actions that benefit others and society as a whole
- unpaid (although it can involve reimbursement of expenses directly related to the activity)
- for a non-profit cause, primarily undertaken within a nongovernmental organisation, and thus clearly isn't motivated by material or financial gain
- not used to substitute or replace paid employment.
Voluntary work in Finland
Voluntary work is being done in different types of organisations in Finland: cultural organisations, sports clubs, social and health organisations, resident associations, associations for unemployed, environmental organisations and local parishes. Key venues for voluntary work are local voluntary centres: resident houses, youth centres, recycling centres and activity centres for unemployed.
Volunteering and the EU
In 2011, the European Commission launched the European Year of Volunteering to celebrate the efforts of the estimated 100 million Europeans who take part in voluntary activities. The year also aimed at making volunteering easier for people and improving the quality of volunteering in Europe.
The Commission is also working to improve and promote volunteering among young people, particularly to encourage volunteering across borders. The European Voluntary Service is the best known programme helping young people to volunteer abroad.
Young people volunteering
In 2007, there were 96 million young people aged between 15 and 29 in the EU. Volunteering amongst young people and young adults is most common in Eastern European countries. In Slovakia, for instance, 70% of all volunteers are under the age of 30, and in Poland the number of young volunteers tripled between 2001 and 2005. In Western European countries, volunteering levels are similar across all age groups.