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How to volunteer, help out, and make friends in Copenhagen

Always wanted to volunteer but never figured out where and how? This will get you going!

There’s volunteering and then there’s volunteering. Some of it is save-the-world type stuff that rarely lives up to the billing, some is I’ll-help-make-this-party-rock type of lending-a-hand, and some is all about chipping in with good vibes to support a good cause and having a good time in the process.

Volunteering in Copenhagen is honestly not going to save the world, but it can contribute to making it a good place, and can certainly help you have a good time, make new friends, and get some good karma in the process. Ready for a run-down of the very best the city has to offer do-gooders of every description? Here we go!

Copenhagen Volunteers is a good place to start

For those who have a broad set of interests, want fun and varied volunteering opportunities and are up for some social experiences with fellow volunteers, it doesn’t get any better than Copenhagen Volunteers. Supported by the municipality of Copenhagen among others, this is your one-stop-shop for getting productively involved in all sorts of events. Recent offerings include volunteering at a medieval festival, clearing hawthorn out in pristine nature and keeping a silent disco party hopping into the night on Nørrebro.

Register at here to get your monthly fix of options including invites to exciting member events such as guided museum tours, skill development courses and staples such as the DHL Relay every autumn. Full disclosure: the author has been a member of this great corps comprising hundreds of internationals and Danes since 2012 when he first moved to Copenhagen.

Festivals are where it’s at

Pretty much every festival in and around Copenhagen has some volunteer magic involved to keep its gears whirring smoothly backstage. Besides, nothing brings street cred and helps spread the word more than a dedicated bunch of enthusiasts willing to back your event’s vibes with their own time and energy! Here’s a smattering of the usual suspects – only the tip of the proverbial iceberg:

Roskilde Festival:
Everybody knows this one, and many a thrifty student tracks volunteering opportunities via the website to avoid blowing their entertainment budget on a pricey ticket that tops DKK 2,000 this year. But few first-timers realise that the best volunteering gigs for this one are through partner organisations – these spots get filled up months ahead of time through word-of-mouth and often include the most exciting shifts and huge perks in addition to free entry.

Photo by Christian Hjorth

So keep your eyes on Roskilde’s volunteer site, but also ask around for useful information on how to get involved. Not only will you help a festival that contributes to great causes while enjoying a great musical and camping experience, you will make some great friends and potentially gain experience in everything from media and public relations to event and waste management.

Copenhagen Jazz Festival:
Arguably the festival that treats its volunteers best as reflected by the loyalty of their volunteers most of whom are returnees. This is a tough but rewarding one to crack. Remember to sign up via their site a couple of months before summer rolls around, and they might well jazz up your life each summer with shifts alongside some of the world’s biggest names in the genre, backstage opportunities, and a terrific spirit of camaraderie at their headquarters on Charlotte Amundsens Plads, which epitomises bonhomie.

An endless list of other festivals:
The plethora of festivals in and around Copenhagen is endless and lately seems to extend year-round with multiple festivals on any given weekend from spring to autumn. Distortion and Strøm are other big name on the volunteering bandwagon. Or you can head out of town to volunteer at any of dozens of cosy festivals like Musik i Lejet or Tønder Festival and have a memorable, offbeat experience in the Danish countryside. And it isn’t just music festivals – there’s also CPH:DOX, for instance, or Copenhagen Fashion Week.

Volunteering at cafés

Copenhagen is home to plenty of volunteer-run cafés. There’s the Danish Refugee Council’s Café Rub og Stub, the Church Integration Ministry’s Café Cadeau, the ever-popular non-profit Café Retro and the charitable Café Nutid. Not to forget, of course, our very own, primarily student-run Studenterhuset, probably as volunteer-driven as a café can ever get! These volunteering options offer an enviable chance to enjoy like-minded and varied company in nice settings while helping out with worthwhile causes.

Photo by Sophie Sales for Rub og Stub


For the good karma

Volunteering can be pretty serious business and if you’re looking for a medium- to long-term commitment, possibilities abound, or can be crafted through personal gumption. The Trampoline House, an independent community centre catering to refugees’ and asylum seekers’ needs, is one place where one can get involved, and you can also check our guide specifically for those wanting to help refugees out here. The Copenhagen Food Association distributes organic, locally-sourced produce including weekly baskets by subscription to those who volunteer a few hours a month. Humanitarian aid, international development and other non-profit organisations are other avenues for making meaningful contributions.

Some of these NGOs are open to assigning tasks to those demonstrating a dogged willingness to volunteer, so don’t let shyness stop you from approaching an organisation whose scope of work interests you. Where there is a will there is often a way! These days, tracking down current volunteering opportunities is fairly straight-forward using websites such as Frivillig Job. But nothing beats the old-fashioned way of turning up somewhere interesting and making oneself useful!

Being proactive

Finally, volunteering can be a lifestyle and those already involved recognise that ad hoc opportunities can sometimes be the most fun and rewarding. Take, for instance, the Sauna Event and TEDx Copenhagen, which recruited proactive volunteers through word-of-mouth and social media, or the International House Copenhagen with its periodic Volunteer Fair. Get involved, keep your eyes and ears open, put your best foot forward, and the rest will follow!

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