Operating grant for youth activities

We award operating grants to support the general activities of Helsinki-based early youth and youth associations that have started their activities in at least the previous calendar year.

When considering applying for youth activity grants, please carefully review both the general grant allocation guidelines and conditions and the specific award criteria and application guidelines for each grant type. 

What kind of associations are eligible for grants?

Two thirds of the association’s members and/or active participants must be Helsinki residents under the age of 29, and the applicant must be based in Helsinki. In addition, more than half the members and/or active participants in early youth or youth associations or similar organisations must be residents of Helsinki between the ages of 7–28. The Youth Sub-committee may, at its discretion and for justified reasons, award operating grants to youth associations and sections that do not fully meet the age and/or residence criteria.

Here, ‘member’ refers to members of the association. ‘Active participants’ means the number of individuals who actively and repeatedly participate in the association’s activities each year. For example, an active participant is a person who repeatedly participates in the association’s recreational activities. A person involved in organising an association’s activities can also be an active participant. Even organising a single event may require active and repeated participation in planning, arrangements, and during the actual event. However, members of the general public who attend an event once, for example, are not active participants.

Unregistered early youth and youth associations must have rules and the same administrative, operational and financial structure as registered associations. Their signatories must also be adults. Youth sections, etc. must therefore have their own cost centre in accounting and budgets, and their activities must also be reflected in the association’s action plan and report. Unregistered associations also include those early youth and youth sections/chapters of organisations that are separable from the main organisation in accounting.

Other eligibility criteria for operating grants

When deciding on the allocation, we consider an organisation's need for a grant. To determine this, we take into account the following:

The scope, purpose and nature of the applicant’s operations

  • The number of Helsinki residents aged 7–28 who are members or actively involved in activities
  • The number of different activities
  • The regional coverage of the organisation’s activities and its contribution to complementing youth work in the city of Helsinki

The applicant’s financial status

  • The applicant’s assets
  • Disproportionately low fundraising negatively affects the grant
  • A disproportionately large share of administrative costs in the total expenses for the financial year negatively affects the grant

Public grants and subsidised loans to the applicant and their use

The ratio of the operating grant to the previous year’s expenses
  • The grant may not exceed 80 procent of the eligible expenses from the previous year

The organisation’s role in youth policy and youth education

The participation of youth in planning and decision-making

Associations that are eligible for operating grants and have their own rental space can apply for rental grants. Helsinki-based early youth and youth district organisations whose local organisations or sections are eligible for operating grants can also apply for rental grants. Each year, the Youth Sub-committee sets the maximum amount of the rental grant. In 2024, the maximum amount for rental grants is €450 per month. 

Rental grants can be awarded if the association has activities on the premises at least four days a week. Each year, the Youth Sub-committee decides on the policy for allocating rental grants and sets the maximum amount. Associations can only receive one maximum rental grant per year.

You can apply for a rental grant when applying for an operating grant, and the amount requested must be included in the grant application. In this case, the rental information must be filled in on the grant application form.

First-time applicants must submit a copy of the current rental agreement as an attachment. If there are any changes to the rental agreement, you must attach a copy of the new agreement to the application. If the rent increases, you must attach a receipt of the paid rent that shows the new rent amount.

The deadline for applying for an operating grant for the current year is the end of the last day in February. However, you can still submit attachments until the end of March if the association’s financial statements are not ready by the end of February, for example. 

The application is completed electronically through the city’s grant application e-service. The registered association must identify itself through its suomi.fi authentication.

Attachments are submitted via the City of Helsinki e-services.

You must always include the following attachments with applications for operating grants:

  • An action plan for the year that the application concerns
  • The budget for the year the application concerns
  • Financial statements from the previous fiscal year
  • The annual report from the previous fiscal year
  • An auditor or operations inspector’s statement regarding the previous fiscal year
  • The signed minutes of the annual or spring general meeting, showing the approval of the financial statements and the granting of discharge from liability

The accounting, financial statements and other documents must comply with the Associations Act and the Accounting Act.

If an association is applying for a grant for its youth section in Helsinki, the youth section’s activities and finances must be shown as a separate item in the financial statements, annual report, budget and action plan, distinct from other activities. For example, the financial statements should show the youth section in Helsinki with its own cost centre.

A new applicant must additionally include the following attachments (as must a returning applicant if their rules or bank account number have changed): 

  • The current rules of the association 
  • A copy of a bank statement or the bank’s confirmation of the account holder

For a copy of a bank statement, it is sufficient to provide the page that shows the account number and the account holder. You may redact any other information on the statement if you prefer.

When applying for a rental grant, the application must also include the following attachments: 

  • Rental agreement (new applicants or returning applicants if the agreement/premises have changed)
  • Receipt of rent payment (if the rent has increased from the amount stated in the agreement)

You can also submit the attachments electronically after submitting the application until the end of March or by a deadline to be agreed. However, please note that delays in submitting attachments will also delay the processing of your application and the decision-making process.

Each year, the Culture and Leisure Committee’s Youth Sub-committee decides on operating grants and approves the use of operating grants from the previous year. The sub-committee usually makes their decision at their meeting at the end of May.

The decision will be sent to the applicant by post. The Youth Sub-committee’s meeting minutes, which include the decision, are also available on the City of Helsinki's website. The Youth Sub-committee’s meeting agendas are published approximately one week before the meeting, and both the agendas and minutes can also be found on the city’s website(Link leads to external service)

You cannot view the decisions on the city’s grant application e-service.

You should read the decision carefully. The decision always begins with the decision section, which also includes obligations and instructions for the applicant, e.g. on how to report on using the grant. The decision section will also state the period and purpose for which the grant has been awarded. The grant must be used for the purpose and during the period for which it was awarded.

Eligible expenses for an operating grant are:

Training expenses

  • Travel expenses, teaching fees, rent and material costs for courses, training and consultation meetings held by the organisation.
  • Travel expenses and participation fees for association members when attending courses, training and consultation events and meetings at district or national levels. Daily allowances are not eligible expenses.

Camping and excursion activity expenses

  • Transport, material, food, communication, insurance and rental costs for camps and trips arranged by the organisation.
  • Participation and travel expenses when an association member or members participate in camps organised by the district or central organisation.

Hobby and recreational activity expenses

  • Material costs of operations and minor equipment purchases.
  • Transport costs

Expenses from international activities

  • Material costs, expert fees, and organisational and hospitality costs from twinned city visits or other similar visits.
  • Travel and participation expenses when the organisation attends an event, seminar, conference or camp organised by its international umbrella organisation, a sister organisation, or a fraternal organisation
  • Travel and participation costs for any other major international youth event that promotes international youth education.

Payroll expenses

  • Personnel costs

Communication and administrative expenses

  • Rent and other office expenses.
  • Expenses from communication and publication activities.

The following expenses are ineligible: brokerage; fundraising or business expenses; advertising costs; debt repayments; meeting fees; membership fees; and depreciation. The grant may also not be used to finance the purchase of fixed assets.

Reporting on the use of the operating grant

You must report the use of the grant received in the previous year in the new grant application. The report requires the association’s annual report, income statement, balance sheet, and auditor or inspector’s statement for the year in question, as well as the annual meeting minutes, which show a review of the financial statements and the granting of discharge from liability. You must submit a report on how the received grant was used by the end of February of the following year, even if you are not applying for a new grant.

If you do not provide an adequate report on how the grant was used within the deadline, the operating grant may be recovered. Please bear in mind that, per the City of Helsinki’s general grant allocation guidelines, the grant provider has the right to request all the information and documents required to verify the use of the grant. If specifically requested, the grant recipient is thus obligated to provide information beyond what is specified in the decision. 

In addition, some youth activity grant recipients are selected for an annual audit of their accounts. Each grant recipient is obligated to participate in the financial audit and provide the required documents and information if the applicant is selected for the audit.

Associations that have received an operating grant or start-up grant from the Youth Sub-committee in the previous year are eligible for an advance.

Read more about operating grant advance.

Read more general guidance on grants for youth activities. 

Read more about guidance and support for grants for youth activities. 

Please contact the planners in the Youth Services Partnership Unit if you have any questions or concerns about youth activity grants. 

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