How to become an EVS-Volunteer

European Voluntary Service – I thought I should explain to you what is behind that phrase, so you will have a better idea of what I am actually doing here.
To put it plainly, the EVS is a chance for young people between the age of 18 and 30 to do volunteer work in any European country of their choice. It’s a chance to make new experiences, see a new culture and meet new people, but also to become involved in a social project and the work that comes with it.
The whole service is funded by the European Union, you will be provided with a place to live, food and some pocket money.
Now all of that sounds really awesome, how can you apply?
That is a really good question, and I asked it myself too when I started to do more research on the voluntary service. There is actually more than one way to become an EVS-volunteer, and for me it required lots of searching and asking to actually understand the application process and how everything works. This is why I will try to explain the various steps, to make it a little bit easier for you to apply 🙂

1. Finding a Sending Organisation
Usually, you start the whole EVS-process with looking for a sending organization in your home country. Maybe you know one already, if not, you can either go to an EVS-information day (if there happens to be one nearby) or you have to go to the internet and open the website:

http://europa.eu/youth/evs_database
There, you can filter the projects and organizations by choosing the country (your home country) and the accreditation type of the organization you are looking for (for this first step it is “Sending Organization”)
The website will then show you many results, and now it is your turn to click on them, read the description and decide if you like what you see and if you want to apply to them.EVS, logo, education and culture, youth in action, Erasmus+

 

  1. Applying to the Sending Organization

As soon as you found some organizations that you like, go to their websites and read the description of the application process: Some organizations only want a few information, others require a lot of paperwork and ask very specific questions to find out more about your personality and motivation.
Also, don’t forget to check the application deadline!! Usually, you have to apply 9-10 months before your planned departure.
It’s always best to apply to more than one organization, in case they have already assigned all of their places!

For me, the first two steps required some research and also lots of motivation, because it was a lot of paperwork and also included an evaluation seminar, where they invited all the applicants and at the end decided if they wanted to support us or not.
For others it is a little bit easier, they only have to find a Receiving Organization and then the sending organization will host them – you see, there are many differences in the process!!

  1. Finding a Receiving Organization

After you got accepted by a Sending Organization, the next step is to find a Receiving Organization in your future host country.
Sometimes, your Sending Organization has partner organizations in other countries and can offer you projects there. But if that doesn’t apply to your Sending Organization or you simply don’t like what they are offering, here comes the second way to get a Receiving Organization:

http://europa.eu/youth/evs_database (yes, this website again :P)

This time, you filter the results by choosing the country that you want to go to and set the EVS accreditation type to “Receiving Organization”.
You can even look for a certain town or a work field that is interesting for you.
Now it is time again to click on the different organizations, read the descriptions and go to the websites of those that really appeal to you.

UPDATE!
With the new round of accreditations this year, there were also some changes made in the database. Usually (and that is the tricky thing) you can only find organizations in the database – not their projects or information about if they need a volunteer at the moment.
With the changes made, the website now shows also the projects of the organization, the duration and if the place is still available.

EVS, logo, education and culture, youth in action, Erasmus+You can then click on the project and a new website will open, giving you a description of the project.EVS, logo, education and culture, youth in action, Erasmus+

This change is really nice, but right now, only the newly accredited organizations have this feature, the big majority doesn’t have information about the exact project – but within the next 2-3 years, every organization should have this feature.

I recommend starting a table where you can write down the name, accreditation number, city and a brief description of the project, so you have a summary of your research at the end.
Here is also a very nice guideline on how to find a project that really fits your personality and needs:
http://europa.eu/youth/article/european-volunteer-service-how-choose-your-ideal-project_en

4. Applying to the Receiving Organization
After you have decided on some projects that you really like, you can either send them a short E-mail to ask if they are looking for volunteers and if they accept applications at the moment, or you can directly send them your curriculum vitae and a Motivation Letter, in which you introduce yourself and the reasons why you want to do an EVS and especially why you want to do your EVS in this specific project.
Normally, your Sending Organization will help you with this, by giving you some guidelines on how to apply. I know it’s a lot of work, but keep going!

5. Waiting
This step is normally the hardest, because sometimes the Organizations won’t reply at all to your application. This is why it is important to apply to many projects and not just to one, and to never give up but keep your motivation 🙂

6. Getting the approval from the National Agency
When you finally got an answer from a project that wants to host you (yaay!!), your Sending Organization and Receiving Organization will cooperate to hand in an application for the appropriation from the European Union.
Now it is up to them to decide if they want to fund your project and invest money.
You have to wait for their response.
Sometimes it’s also possible that the project is already approved and funded, in this case you don’t need to wait for the answer from the National Agency – you see, more differences!

7. ALL DONE!
At some point of your waiting, you will get an E-mail or a call from your Sending or Receiving Organization about the decision of the National Agency. If it’s a positive answer, be happy! You will start your EVS soon!
I know that this is a really long and really complicated process (at least for me it was), and believe me, there were times when I wanted to give up and really asked myself if it was worth it. So far, according to what I have learned in my time here, it absolutely is! You will experience many new things, get a lot of new aspects on life and meet many new people. So don’t give up, but keep up your motivation!

EVS, logo, education and culture, youth in action, Erasmus+

 

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