Survey on youth organisations and organisations working with youth and global issues

In 2020 five platform organisations, members of the European Network for CIGS,  from Finland, Italy, France, Belgium and the Netherlands conducted a survey among the youth organisations they work with and that are members of their platforms. They asked 171 organisations of which 51 replied to their questionnaire. These organisations worked with more than 2.000 volunteers of which 50% were young people between 13 and 30 years old. Of the participating CSOs more than 1100 employees were working actively with young people. We asked the following:

What type of community actions does your organisation initiate to engage young people in global issues and reaching the sustainable development goals? 

N=51 Regularly Sometimes Never
Extracurricular activities in school 29,41% 31,37% 39,22%
Curricular activities in school 15,69% 60,78% 23,53%
Group activities not in schools (such as street actions, theatre plays, parties, exchanges) 21,57% 39,22% 39,22%
Campaigns for individual behavioural changes (for example on Mobility, Consumption patterns, support to marginalised people, etc.) 19,61% 47,06% 33,33%
Social Media contests, online campaigning, etc. 25,49% 54,90% 19,61%

When your organisation seeks to increase the engagement of young people in community actions, how relevant are the following challenges to you?

N=51 Very relevant Relevant Slightly relevant Irrelevant
Reaching young people from different backgrounds to join activities 47,06% 41,18% 11,76% 0,00%
Effective use of communication tools (social media) and channels that reach young people 43,14% 49,02% 7,84% 0,00%
Using effective and innovative methodologies that trigger engagement, not only awareness raising 68,63% 17,65% 13,73% 0,00%
Developing monitoring and evaluation activities to measure results and the impact of activities 23,53% 52,94% 21,57% 1,96%

What are the obstacles for your organisation that limit the increase of engagement of young people in SDG community actions?

N=51 Very limiting Limiting Slightly limiting Not limiting at all
Low capacity to link international cooperation activities to youth engagement locally 11,76% 35,29% 31,37% 21,57%
Low capacity to explain SDGs and how everyone can contribute to their achievement 1,96% 21,57% 50,98% 25,49%
Low capacity to innovate and propose new activities 9,80% 31,37% 35,29% 23,53%

On which themes do you think training would be beneficial for your organisation?

N=51 Very beneficial Beneficial Somewhat beneficial Not beneficial
Co-creation of youth community actions for the SDGs 29,41% 50,98% 13,73% 5,88%
Reaching young people from different backgrounds 29,41% 45,10% 17,65% 7,84%
Working with new and traditional media to reach and engage youth 41,18% 39,22% 19,61% 0,00%
Inspiring and effective methodologies to work with youth 50,98% 35,29% 13,73% 0,00%

Quotes from the questionaires


“We don’t have a real expertise on how to engage youth on SDG’s, so it remains difficult to involve young people and to raise awareness. We don’t have tools on how to approach these topics with young people. Also, the international partner is not necessarily trained or receptive on this subject as well”

 “It seems complicated to deal with the SDGs with youth in a project when the facilitators themselves are not prepared enough”

 “We sometimes feel far from the reality of young people, we need to find ways/approaches to reconnect”


– Engage youth on a long-term basis and find a way to do so also using digital tools / keep the motivation and the engagement high after the end of a project

– Reach non-represented youths / involve migrant-background youths as peer educators

– In order to empower youths and let them acquire competences, CSOs give support to youth groups in the organization and implementation of activities, but this implies a big workload for the staff (guidance, support, facilitation, etc. – it is like a learning process for youth but not formalized as an activity in a project).

Are there other themes on which you think training would be beneficial for your organisation?

– How to manage different age groups working together (old staff/young staff)

– Tools and ideas for youths who want to act on SDGs outside the CSO activities (as individuals or involving school/sport mates, family, friends, …)

– Tools and ideas for powerful street actions

Do you have any further reflections related to engaging young people in practical and transformative community actions needed to realise the sustainable development goals (SDGs)?

– Design of activities/projects should start from youths’ ideas [that’s in line with our co-creation training 😉]

– Make youth feel close to people who directly live inequalities 


Are there others involved in increasing the group of young people that are relevant to your organisation?

  • How do you give young people the opportunity to fail when they want to commit themselves to an organisation? Which organisational structures work best…
  • Yes, the continued commitment of these young people among them the annual trajectory with our permanent environment, so that they can also be in their environment

Are there other obstacles to the expansion of youth cooperation in SDG community actions?

  • The gap between the school and the community/outside world.
  • Little room for SDG training / awareness training in schools
  • Our organisation runs on volunteers and our time factor is mainly the energy that we can put in ourselves; for example, international cooperation agreements is not (yet) on our radar at all

Are there any other topics that you think training would be useful for your organisation?

  • Networking – How to find a balance between ‘organisation’ and ‘business’ model – financial resources nationally and internationally
  • Inspiring examples, methodologies on how to translate to/find a balance, working on the content of the SDGs and letting the process run co-creatively.
  • The balance in co-creation and working towards a goal.