Green NGOs — get involved

1. General Steps for finding information about Environmental NGOs

In this section, you will find some useful general tips on what you can do in order to find information about environmental NGOs.

-        Search on the internet (type Keywords such as Green NGO in country X, environmental NGOs in country X)
-        Check the Website or Social media of related ‘Green’ NGOs
-        Contact them / Send an email or make a call to NGOs
-        Connect with people that are working there via social media platforms and request information from them
-        Request information from governmental agencies
-        Request information from other NGOs
-        Arrange a meeting with them / online or face to face
-        Participate in their events
-        Get in touch with locals


2. How to set up an NGO in specific European countries

Are you interested to set up an environmental NGO? Are you familiar with the procedure? In the below section, you will find some general information and guidelines on how to set up an NGO in 6 specific European countries (Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, Portugal, and UK). These particular countries were chosen as examples for this article (partners from the above countries are participating in the SOMRA project). Of course,  NGOs can be also set up in other countries too.


The law divides the establishment of an association into two phases:

  1. the establishment
  2. the formation of the association

An association is established through the Founding Agreement or Gründungsvereinbarung in German, containing the name and surname, date of birth, birthplace, address of the founders and the association’s statutes. The founders must report the establishment of the association to the association authority in writing. For the establishment of an association, the agreement of statutes (founding agreement) by at least two people of min. 14 years of age is required. Association founders can be natural or legal persons. Natural persons do not need Austrian citizenship to find an association. It is, for example, possible for migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers to find their own NGOs since citizenship is not required for that process.


The process and requirements differ based on the type of organisation; however, the general procedure includes the following basic steps:

  1. Obtain the application forms that are required by the current regulations, from the Ministry of Interior, the District Office you are based in, or the Ministry of Interior’s website
  2. Obtain the names and signatures of at least twenty (20) founding members
  3. Appoint/vote the Board of Directors, which should consist of at least five (5) founding members
  4. Compose your Articles of Association, which should include, as a minimum, what the law requires (Article 8) (e.g. scope, name, and headquarters, financial resources, etc.)
  5. Submission of documents to the District offices


The general process of founding an association (including NGOs, charities or voluntary groups) in Finland involves three phases:

  1. Deciding on the founding of an association
  2. Drafting the rules of the association (in Finnish or Swedish)
  3. Registering the association

Registering is optional, and the registration fee is 100€. It is worth registering as a registered association may apply for funding and financial assistance and cooperate with other associations and authorities. In order to register an association, we have to submit a notice to the Finnish Patent and Registration Office. When the association has been registered, the PRH will send a register extract for the association.


Setting up an NGO in Ireland is a straightforward and easy process. The first step in setting up an NGO in Ireland is to define the charitable purpose that the NGO seeks to achieve. Under the Charities Act 2009, organisations can be established to achieve one of four main goals or charitable purposes; namely,

  1. The prevention or relief of poverty;
  2. The advancement of education;
  3. The advancement of religion;
  4. Other purposes of benefit to a community.


Any group of people who come together with common interests can form an association. Often, groups of residents, people of the same profession, colleagues in recreational and cultural activities or friends with common projects find in the creation of an association a way to make themselves publicly represented.  Steps for creating an Association. To set up an NGO need the following steps:

  1. Create a team of social members (president, vice president, etc.)
  2. Write statutes
  3. Define what type of NGO you want to be
  4. Apply for the Certificate of Admissibility of Firm or Denomination
  5. Organise a Constitutive Assembly to approve the statutes
  6. Public Deed of the association
  7. Registration with RNPC (National Register of Legal Entities)
  8. Publications of the statutes in the Republic Gazette
  9. Start of Activity Registration
  10.  Social Security Enrollment
  11.  Legal Person Card Required


There are 6 steps to setting up a charity in the UK.

  1. Find trustees for your charity - you usually need at least 3.
  2. Make sure the charity has ‘charitable purposes for the public benefit.
  3. Choose a name for your charity.
  4. Choose a structure for your charity.
  5. Create a ‘governing document’.
  6. Register as a charity if your annual income is over £5,000 or if you set up a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO).

There are different rules in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Here is more info on how to set up a charity in the UK:


3. Are you interested in being involved in an NGO?

In all the countries mentioned above (Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, Portugal,  UK), people with a migration background (migrants, refugees, or asylum seekers) can volunteer or join in an NGO following the usual procedure as the citizens of each country do.

You can visit the website of the NGO that you wish to be a member and you can submit your application form.

If work in an NGO is paid, the same legal restrictions apply for jobs in other areas. However, many NGOs offer opportunities for unpaid internships, supporting tasks, etc.

4. Restrictions and Barriers to getting involved in NGOs

Below are summarised briefly the main barriers that people with a migration background face in their effort to be involved in an NGO.

  • A major issue is the lack of information about how migrants can get involved in voluntary or paid work for NGOs.
  • Another potential barrier for migrants to get involved in work for an NGO might be that many of them already volunteer in informal settings, for example, in supporting neighbours or family members. Many migrants have low-paid jobs due to a lack of opportunities, which means they often do not have time to work as a volunteer because they need to ensure their own financial stability.



There are language barriers, cultural differences, alienation from the labour market, no local friends and acquaintances, and legal restrictions. Some refugees and asylum seekers were assigned state accommodation in the countryside, where public transportation is usually not very good, so for them, it is frequently challenging to reach an NGO physically.


Marinos Papaioakeim& Alexandros Peletie


Bundesministerium für Inneres (2021). Vereinswesen:
Volunteering opportunities in Austria:
Volunteering options in Vienna:

Civil Society Advocates, Guide: Developments for NGOs, Legislative changes regarding, associations, foundations, clubs, and federation, May 2018, Available at:
NGO Support Centre, Available at:

Globe Art Point. Available at:
Manoj Bhusa (2013). Available at:
The MIND Project:
Refugee support platform -

United Kingdom

Volunteering opportunities:
Info on taxes for charities:
The Funding Network to connect charities and potential donors:
Trustee vacancies in the UK:
Asylum Information Database, Available at:
Charity helping refugees and asylum seekers in the UK:
Info about charity law: Charity regulation: