Oбука за Работа со Mлади
To be volunteer in Romania

What is EVS?

EVS (European Voluntary Service) is voluntary activities. The Erasmus+ programme offers young people the chance to make a difference through the European Voluntary Service.

EVS gives young people the opportunity to express their personal commitment through full-time voluntary work in a foreign country within or outside Europan. For example in Africa, Asia and South America. This program period is changing. It last from 2 weeks to 12 months.

European Comission fund this international volunteer program.

What is EVS target?

The EVS aims to develop solidarity, mutual understanding and tolerance among young people, while contributing to strengthening social cohesion and promoting active citizenship. Their learning experience is formally recognized through a Youthpass. Volunteers receive free board and lodging, insurance cover and a grant for the duration of the project.

EVS volunteers working for more than two months abroad can get additional support to learn, and test their progress in, the language used during their volunteering.


EVS history

EVS started in 1996 as a pilot action but given its successful start, the Commission launched the European Voluntary Service Community Action Programme that operated during 1998-1999. EVS then became part of the YOUTH programme( 2000-2006), and continued to be a flagship activity under the Youth in Action programme (2007-2013) and within the current Erasmus+ programme (2014-2020).

Through EVS young people get the opportunity to volunteer abroad, contributing with their efforts to a cause they believe in – be it solidarity with refugees and migrants, work on environmental issues, activities for children or the elderly, support for non-governmental organisations, work for cultural events or a number of other topics.

Anyone between 17 and 30 years old can join and, to make this experience possible for everyone, every volunteer receives support to cover travel and living costs, as well as pocket money and insurance. Check out the database to find your lifetime volunteering opportunity!

Over the last 20 years, close to 100,000 young people have taken part in international volunteering through the European Voluntary Service (EVS).

Volunteering and the EU

The history of volunteering in Europe differs from country to country. While some countries have longstanding volunteering traditions, in others the voluntary sector is still poorly developed or has yet to emerge. According to a 2007 Eurobarometer survey, three out of ten Europeans say they take part in voluntary activities. Some estimates place the total number of EU volunteers at 92 to 94 million adults (23% of all Europeans over 15). There has been a general increase in the number of active volunteers and voluntary organisations in the EU over the past ten years.

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 known program helping young people to volunteer abroad.


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 organization, and thus clearly isn’t motivated by material or financial gain not used to substitute or replace paid employment.


Young people volunteering

A survey from 2011 found that around a quarter (24%) of young adults in the EU had been involved in an organised voluntary activity in the last 12 months.

At the individual country level, the highest proportions of young people who had volunteered were found in in Slovenia, Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands. In Poland, Greece and Hungary, roughly one in six of young people had been involved in such a voluntary activity.

We know that volunteering is strongly influenced by the history, politics and culture of a community and a country, but you can help change the tradition and boost volunteering in Europe. You might even be taking part in voluntary activities without even realising it: lending a hand at your local sports club, helping out an elderly member of your community or picking up litter in the forest or on the beach. In fact, sports and outdoor activities are the main volunteering sectors in Europe, followed by education, arts and music or cultural associations.


Who Can Take Part?

Are you aged 17-30 and willing to spend from 2 weeks to 12 months abroad as an EVS Volunteer? Start by having a look at the European Youth Portal for information, volunteering opportunities, and the database of EVS organisations.

Are you an organisation willing to develop an EVS project? The Erasmus+ Programme Guide provides detailed information about the conditions for participating. In most cases, the application for funding and accreditation is submitted via the Erasmus+ National Agencies in each country participating in the programme. The Agencies are the primary information sources for the users of the programme: organisations are invited to contact them for information and advice.


How does it work?

An EVS project is a partnership between two or more promoting organisations. These organisations are responsible for recruiting volunteers for their project.

Volunteers participate in EVS through a Sending Organisation in the country where they live and a Receiving Organisation that receives and hosts them during their period of service.

Projects last from 2 weeks to 12 months, and as a volunteer you can work in a wide range of fields, such as culture, youth, sports, children, cultural heritage, arts, animal welfare, environment and development cooperation. At the end of your EVS period, you will receive a certificate confirming your participation and describing your project – the Youthpass.

You will receive free accommodation, food, insurance and pocket money. The only thing you might have to pay is a small part of your travel costs.


How can you apply?

If you are between 17 and 30 you have two options:

  1. Contact an organisation that is recruiting volunteers for a granted project OR
  2. Contact an organisation to discuss starting a project

To contact an organisation, consult the database of accredited organisations.


10 things about EVS

  1. Language course – EVS is not a language course. Of course, you have the chance of learning a new language, and it’s really great. But EVS is so much more than these, and the language course is a tool for making your stage easier and richer.
  2. Vacations/holidays – There are 2 free days per each month and we can take them whenever we want, but we should not abuse it. In the end, we need to deliver results.
  3. Job – EVS is not a paid job. It must not replace paid jobs but it is a good opportunity to realise which skills you currently have and which skills you could gain.
  4. Missions – EVS is volunteering, but nothing related to “missions”. This is not something religious or related to live in bad conditions. European Union and the hosting organisation provide all the necessary conditions for your experience during EVS.
  5. Scholarship – What EVS and a scholarship have in common is that you get financial aid for participating in education. The differences are that scholarships are used in formal education, while EVS is a non-formal learning program, and that you usually need qualifications to get a scholarship, which are not needed for EVS.
  6. Fraud – This experience is as serious as any job but not a fraud. You have a contract where is written all the things related with your activities your schedule, the money that your hosting organization will give to you, your responsibilities during the project and your rights, etc. You won’t have to pay anything at the end of your project, so stay calm. 7. Unstructured volunteering – There are many ways of helping people, some of them don’t require you to have a plan. EVS is not like this – the Activity Agreement you sign states what kind of work you have to do in your project. You get a schedule of all the activities you are going to do and you have to prepare them before.
  7. Internship – we are working in an NGO not in a company as interns normally do so first, we have no chance to stay at the organisation as employees. Second, our project is not lasting, in the sense, that we have a certain work to do and the final result to show, as it is already mentioned at the point number 2.
  8. Touristic activity – EVS gives you opportunity to explore new places and discover new cultures but it’s not for tourism.
  9. Exploitation or “cheap job” – The fact that you will be a volunteer doesn’t mean that you are goanna be exploited as a worker. You will do just the activities that are described by your project and be written on your contract. Sometimes they can propose you others activities but if you are not agree you can reject them and you have all the time the European National Agency to support you if you have any problem in this aspect.