Volunteering was generally considered an activity to improve the well-being of others without any remuneration. It used to be thought of as being rooted in a positive attitude: working because you want to and not because you have to. It has now been expanded to a process of learning and developing. It takes many forms, and can be performed by a wide range of people in many areas, while giving the feeling of satisfaction that comes from giving back to a community, being helpful, being busy, meeting new people and developing skills. There are many interesting volunteering positions you can apply for in the Netherlands through different organisations.
The benefits of volunteering are innumerous. Some of them are:
- Opening your mind: You get a wider perspective on things, become more compassionate and become aware of problems in our society.
- Feeling good: You feel better when you help improve life for others and accomplish something. Volunteering can even help you strengthen and protect your mental and physical health.
- Meeting people: A platform for socialising and developing friendships.
- Gaining experience: It helps develop and improve skills such as teamwork, communication, being organised, etc. Volunteering can also help you learn more about your field of interest.
- Getting busy: For the unemployed, under-employed or people looking for job opportunities, having a volunteer position helps pass the time.
Tips to narrow down volunteering options
The main popular volunteering areas are:
- Community development
This encompasses volunteer work that aims to improve infrastructure and services like sanitation, water, permanent shelter, electricity, schools, gardening, reliable roads, and more.
- Environment & wildlife
These are the services directed towards environmental and wildlife management. They can involve environmental monitoring, re-vegetation, weed removal and several other ecological restoration related processes. Raising awareness about the environment also falls under the same category.
- Schools or education
Volunteering in schools may involve helping underprivileged children and adults to develop life-changing skills (like learning English, which can significantly improve the prospects of people living in developing countries), being a classroom helper, helping with fundraising efforts, etc. You can also participate in fun activities like drama productions, one-off events and chaperoning on field trips.
Other areas where volunteers are utilised
- Community theatres, museums and monuments
- Libraries or senior help centres
- Clubs and organisations like school clubs, youth organisations, rotary clubs, sports clubs
- Restoration activities for parks, and other public spaces
- Places of worship
NB: Volunteering can be done within an organisation, out in the field and from home, with tasks such as writing, graphic designing, emailing and social media.
In 2010, a survey revealed that the Netherlands has the highest percentage of volunteers in the world. More than one in five people work as volunteer; a number which has been growing during the past decade. Volunteers spend an average of five hours a week on unpaid activities.
Volunteering in the Netherlands
For general information on volunteering in Netherlands, you can contact the national Dutch volunteer office on its hotline, (0900 899 8600, €0.20 per min.) and check the daily papers for ads regarding volunteering opportunities.
Some volunteer opportunities
- ACCESS: Of course, volunteering for ACCESS means supporting the international community in the Netherlands and is a rewarding way of using your existing skills and adding to your experience during your stay in the country.
- Expatriate Archive Centre: an organisation which archives expat experiences.
- Volunteer in The Hague: Volunteer The Hague matches your talents and skills with the needs of local non-profit organisations.
Many cities have an overview of volunteering opportunities in their area.