An Expat’s Tour Guide to Volunteering in Amsterdam: Explore Tulip City

If you have just moved to Amsterdam, there are several things you might be feeling. Chances are – if you have managed to find an apartment and settle – the next thing on your mind is, “there is so much to do!” And that’s the plain truth about this lovely city: the possibilities are endless.
Besides the touristic spots you either have seen or will see eventually when a family member visits, another great way to discover Amsterdam is through volunteering. There is only so much you can get from your interactions with the tour guide, and though they might be necessary, exploring a city on the surface will never get you the satisfaction of learning about its deeper issues.
Trust me, I say this from experience. I moved to Amsterdam in 2017 to pursue my masters degree, and from the move I learned a thing or two about being overwhelmed by options. I sure can’t ignore how beautiful this city is on the surface: canals, buildings, parks and bicycles live in harmony and truly give Amsterdam its iconicity. But once you’ve been here a while, you may find out that the “Dam” has way more to offer than just beauty.
Volunteering has helped me meet new people and learn about the issues Amsterdam faces that I wasn’t even aware of. If you’re still not sure what they are, I’ll give you a quick overview (click on any of them to find cause-related volunteering):
And these are just some of the causes Amsterdammers care about!
Before I take you through the volunteering guide of Amsterdam, let me tell you about some of the benefits to expats who choose to discover the city through volunteering.

1. Meeting new people

Amsterdam is full of good people doing good. Some of them dedicate their whole lives to a cause they care about.  Volunteering allows you to get in touch with people who fight the same fight as you!

2. Learning about prominent issues in

Amsterdam and the Netherlands

What do the Dutch care about? What kind of help do they need? Volunteering locally is a great chance to find that out (and help out). After all, the Netherlands aren't just tulips and windmills.

3. Leisure time that is fulfilling

Allow yourself to find the fun in volunteering. Many of the activities offered by charities are purely recreational! Volunteering is a great pastime and known to reduce stress and loneliness.

4. Learning/Practicing Dutch

Learning Dutch can be difficult if you already know English. Most people will switch to English at the first mistake you make when trying to practice their language. I find volunteering a great way to practice, especially when you’re in an environment of newcomers who are also trying to learn.  

The Volunteering Guide

Here are some places and activities I highly recommend for non-native speakers who want to volunteer:

Get social with Open Meals with Refugees

Once a month Diversity House organizes an open meal with refugees, where everyone brings a dish from their home country and enjoys great food and conversation alongside refugees. This is an opportunity to meet new people and get acquainted with the struggles of the refugee cause. The great food and music are a good enough motivation to attend!

Team volunteering at Amsta Zorg

If you want to take friends or coworkers volunteering with you, Amsta is a good place to do so. They offer team activities where volunteers interact with the elderly or help out with household and maintenance duties. Amsta is very passionate about their residents and will definitely make you feel welcome.

Pop up meals with Resto VanHarte

Resto VanHarte provides healthy and affordable three-course dinners once or twice a week, usually in a school or community center with a professional kitchen. They transform spaces into community restaurants where people can come together and enjoy a nice, inexpensive meal.

Ympact020, youth volunteering

Ympact020 is a youth volunteering network in Amsterdam. It aims at getting young people out there and helping society regardless of background, religion, ethnicity or belief. Volunteers between the ages of 12 and 30 are welcome!

Fight food waste with BuurtBuik

With the help of volunteers, BuurtBuik fights food waste by preparing meals and bringing vulnerable members of society together to enjoy it for free. Sustainability, good food and company at no cost!

Get cozy with Oma’s Soep

Oma’s Soep is a charity that brings people together through the joy of warm soup while fighting elderly loneliness. At Oma's Soep, volunteers cook soup with the elderly and then enjoy it together. You can read more about them here.

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