Volunteering in the Netherlands

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.

Why volunteer?

  • 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.