Volunteer work in 2023 back to pre-pandemic levels

© ANP / Richard van der Woude Fotografie
In 2023, 49 percent of the Dutch population aged 15 and older said they had participated in volunteer activities for an organisation or club at least once in the previous twelve months. The percentage of volunteers has increased sharply compared to the pandemic period, when 41 percent were active in volunteer work, on average, and is now back to pre-pandemic levels. This is evident from new figures released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).
The figures have been taken from the annual survey on social cohesion and welfare, 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. These included questions about what respondents expect from the organisations they volunteer for.

In 2023, the share of volunteers among all age groups increased to the same levels as before the pandemic. Among those aged 65 and over, the share of volunteers was actually higher than it was in 2019.

Volunteer work¹⁾
JaarPrevious 12 months (% people aged 15 years and over)
¹⁾ At least once in the previous 12 months

Volunteering on an occasional basis happens more often

In 2023, people were more likely to perform volunteer work (from time to time or once) than in 2022; the share of those doing this on a weekly or monthly basis was slightly lower. People spent just over 4 hours per week on average on volunteer work.

Frequency of volunteer work
Jaar2023 (% of volunteers)2022 (% of volunteers)
On an occasional basis
(from time to time, or once)
(weekly of monthly)

Highest number of volunteers at sports clubs

Most volunteers were active on behalf of sports clubs, just as in previous years (16 percent). In second place was volunteering at a school, local community association or hobby association, at around 11 percent. In addition, volunteer work was performed in healthcare, at ideological organisations, cultural associations or organisations, and in the field of nature conservation, for instance (ranging between 5 and 10 percent), and a smaller share of volunteers (less than 5 percent) were active in youth or community work, social assistance, refugee work, or on behalf of labour and political organisations.

Volunteers in care are active the most often

Volunteers in care and healthcare, and those aged 65 to 74 in particular, were active the most often; they volunteered on a weekly basis and also put in the most hours per week. More than half of volunteers active on behalf of ideological institutions, youth or community centres, cultural associations and sports clubs, among others, were also active on a weekly or monthly basis. Volunteer work for schools, the local community and in nature conservation was mostly performed on an occasional basis.

Compliment or expression of gratitude

Respondents were also asked what they expect from the association or organisation which they volunteer for. Almost half of them think it is important to receive thanks or compliments as a form of appreciation. Nearly 30 percent find it important to be free to carry out the work as they see fit, while financial compensation was only important for 5 percent of respondents. Older volunteers find compliments or gratitude less important than younger volunteers. On the other hand, younger volunteers consider financial compensation, a gift or token of appreciation, and a clear job description more important than older volunteers.

What volunteers expect from the association or organisation, 2023
vrijwilliger2023 (% of volunteers)
Expressing compliments or thanks as a form of appreciation46.9
Being free to carry out the work as they see fit28.7
Clear job description17.3
Effective onboarding and frequent contact with coordinator17.2
Annual event or celebration13.2
Gift or token of appreciation11.9
Training for volunteers10.6
Financial compensation4.5