Volunteering in the Netherlands: what you can do and why you should do it

It’s long been known that volunteering in your local community can have a positive impact on you and the community you live in. 

Whether you have newly arrived in the Netherlands or have been at home here for longer, by volunteering you can forge links between you and your community, improve your language skills and widen your network.

How can you volunteer in the Netherlands?

Volunteer the Hague, NL Cares and Stichting Present are initiatives that help connect willing volunteers with organisations in need. 

Volunteer the Hague works to facilitate engagement of internationals with the local community in The Hague and surrounding areas, while NL Cares and Stichting Present have offices in Utrecht, The Hague, Rotterdam and Amsterdam. On the websites of these organisations, local nonprofits can post their vacancies and volunteers can find ways to help.

Last week I spoke with Tetyana Benzeroual,  project manager at Volunteer The Hague, to get more insight into volunteering in the Netherlands: what you can do as a volunteer, what volunteering can do for you and how coronavirus has impacted volunteering in the Netherlands.

Volunteering allows you to create a support network

Tetyana spoke of building a support network in the local community through volunteer activities. This is perhaps especially important for those who have just arrived in the Netherlands. “They need that  feeling of belonging somewhere or to something bigger or greater than they are.”

Making real-life connections is valuable and important for all of us, no matter how long we’ve been living in a community. 

Volunteering is a practical and rewarding way to connect, or reconnect, with your local community. In fact, we put volunteering at the top of the list in an article on 5 practical ways to be part of your community in the Netherlands.

Volunteering helps you to develop your skills

Alongside the social and health benefits of volunteering, it’s also a great way to boost future career prospects. If you aren’t having much luck on the hunt for a job, why not dedicate some time to a volunteer role? 

NGOs in the netherlands
Volunteering can really enrich your CV. Image: fauxels/Pexels.

Often, volunteers already have the skills and expertise organisations need, such as PR or accounting skills. In this way, a volunteer can develop their skillset and add valuable experience to their CV

How does volunteering benefit organisations?

And what about the organisations? How do they benefit from the work of volunteers?

Tetyana notes that the organisations looking for volunteers are most often very small, local non-profits who really need support.

Volunteers bring new ways of thinking, creative ideas and a range of useful skills to the organisation.

Even if your Dutch is not yet perfect, there’s no reason to hold back as there are opportunities to volunteer regardless.

Here at DutchReview we’ve got plenty of articles on how to get to grips with Nederlands, and, of course, as a volunteer you will have plenty of opportunities to brush up on language skills while on the job. Fellow volunteers might even be able to help you make sense of Dutch grammar!

Volunteering in the corona times

It goes without saying that many events have been called off or postponed as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. Nonetheless, there are still many volunteer opportunities out there. 

A number of campaigns have been set up to reach those who may be lonely or especially in need of help right now.

Take inspiration from Chilean born Cote Veragua, who has been finding creative ways to spread positivity in Leeuwarden throughout the pandemic.

Have you got a musical talent you’d like to share? Then check out these open air performances, or perhaps you’d rather contribute to this ‘Happy Newsletter’ or use your creativity to write a postcard.

Many organisations are also realising how useful online technology and social media are, meaning there is ample opportunity for tech-savvy volunteers.

So what are you waiting for? Reach out and see where you can offer assistance, there are boundless opportunities to engage with the community, to mobilize yourself for a cause you care about or one that will improve society.

Have you volunteered in the Netherlands before? Tell us about your experience below. 

Feature Image: YouXVentures/Unsplash

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in June 2020 and was updated in December 2020 for your reading pleasure.

Laura Corrigan
An Irish girl studying in the beautiful city of Groningen. With a long time passion for writing and photography and a new found passion for bikes, Saturday markets and Dutch snacks. You'll find her in the Arts Building possibly working, more than likely daydreaming and most definitely drinking tea.

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