More volunteers in 2022, but still below pre-COVID levels

© ANP / Berlinda van Dam
In 2022, 41 percent of the Dutch population aged 15 years or older reported having done volunteer work for an organisation or association at least once in the past twelve months. This means that the share of volunteers has increased after the decline during the COVID pandemic, but is still lower than before the coronavirus crisis. This is evident from new figures released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

The figures have been taken from the annual survey on social cohesion and well-being, which also includes additional questions about volunteer work at the request of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and the volunteer umbrella organisation NOV. In the survey, people aged 15 years or older were asked, among other things, about their commitment to performing volunteer work in the twelve months prior to the survey.

Volunteer work¹⁾
JaarPast 12 months
¹⁾ % of people aged 15 years and over who performed volunteer work at least once a year.

Still fewer volunteers than before the pandemic

In the period between 2012 and 2019, an average of 49 percent of the Dutch population aged 15 years or older performed volunteer work at least once a year. In 2020, the share of volunteers decreased to 44 percent, and in 2021 to 39 percent. This decline may partly be due to the coronavirus measures taken, which prevented much of volunteer work.

As many volunteers among over 65s as before COVID-19

In 2020 and 2021, the share of volunteers decreased among almost all age groups. In 2022, the share of volunteers was not yet at the 2019 level for most age groups. In the group aged 65 and over, the share of volunteers increased again to a similar level as before COVID-19. In 2021, among 65 to 75-year-olds, this was 44 percent, and 48 percent a year later, similar to 2019. In 2021, 27 percent of people aged 75 and over did volunteer work, and by 2022 this had increased to 35 percent, which is comparable to 2020.

Volunteer work¹⁾
Leeftijd2022 (% )2021 (% )2020 (% )2019 (% )
15-24 yrs41.
25-34 yrs34.230.839.842.3
35-44 yrs44.644.548.954.7
45-54 yrs44.644.648.253.4
55-64 yrs40.
65-74 yrs48.443.644.247.7
75 years and over34.527.335.331.7
¹⁾ % of people aged 15 years and over who performed volunteer work at least once a year.

Most volunteers at sports clubs

As in previous years, relatively many people did volunteer work for sports clubs in 2022, namely 13 percent, and 6 to 7 percent were active at schools, for the community, in care or healthcare, at ideological organisations and hobby associations. Five percent of the population did voluntary work for cultural associations or organisations, and 4 percent performed youth or community work. In addition, a small part of the volunteers was active in the areas of nature conservation, social aid or refugee work, and labour or political organisations.

Volunteer work, by organisation or association, 2022¹⁾
Organisaties;2022 Sportvereniging;13,4 School;7,4 Buurt;7,1 Verzorging of gezondheidszorg;6,8 Levensbeschouwelijke organisatie;6,4 Hobbyverenigingen;6,4 Culturele verenigingen;5,2 Jeugd- of buurthuiswerk;4,4 Natuurbehoud;3,5 Sociale hulpverlening;3,4 Vluchtelingenwerk;2,7 Arbeids- of politieke organisatie;1,8 Overig;8,9 Politieke organisatie2022
Sports club13.4
Care or healthcare6.8
Ideological organisation6.4
Hobby clubs6.4
Cultural associations5.2
Youth or community work4.4
Nature conservation3.5
Social aid3.4
Refugee work2.7
Labour or political organisation1.8
¹⁾ % of people aged 15 years and over who performed volunteer work at least once during the past 12 months

Volunteers in healthcare most often active

Volunteers in care and healthcare, in particular 65 to 75-year-olds are most frequently active. They do this on a weekly or monthly basis and spend the most hours per week on their volunteer work. Among volunteers for philosophical institutions, cultural associations, sports clubs and labour or political organisations, more than half of them are active at least weekly. Relatively more people occasionally performed volunteer work at a school, for the community and nature conservation.

Impact of COVID-19

More than 80 percent of volunteers in 2022 said they had also done volunteer work before or during the COVID pandemic. A third of them said that the pandemic, and the measures associated with it, did not affect this. A third were able to do less volunteer work, and just over 10 percent were unable to do this at all. Also, slightly more than 10 percent took up more online volunteering activities, while 3 percent became inactive.