Annual report on the development of voluntary services in China (2017) released

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The China Volunteer Service Federation and the Social Sciences Academic Press published the “Blue Book of Voluntary Service: Annual Report on the Development of Voluntary Services in China (2017)” on November 9. The China Volunteer Service Federation led the composition of the report. More than 40 experts and scholars in the field of volunteer services participated in the compilation, which lasted one year and three months. The report is nearly 300,000 words long and includes five parts: the main report, features, practices, references and appendixes. It provides a comprehensive analysis regarding the annual development of volunteer work from various perspectives and multiple dimensions; it is also the first industry report in the field of volunteer services in China.

The report shows that according to the data provided by the information system on national volunteer services, by the end of 2016 there were 287,516 volunteer groups in the system; by June 2017, the number had increased to 342,065. By the end of 2016, China had established nationwide volunteer organizations such as the China Volunteer Service Federation and 23 provincial-level volunteer organizations that work across different fields. Most major cities had set up regional volunteer service organizations as well. Looking at the number of registered volunteers, by the end of 2016, there were 32,780,000 registered volunteers in the information system, and this figure increased to 42,420,000 by June 30, 2017, representing an increase of 29%. The number of registered volunteers in 2016 accounted for 2.56% of the total population, and Beijing, Chongqing and Shanghai had the highest proportions, with 17.11%, 15.2% and 10.85% respectively. What’s more, based on the estimations of related organizations, there was a total of 134,800,000 registered and unregistered volunteers in 2016, constituting 9.75% of the whole population.

The total hours of volunteering provided by female volunteers increased from 301 million hours by the end of 2016 to 335 million hours by the end of June this year, while for male volunteers it increased from 241 million hours to 277 million hours. Volunteers come from various professions, and students represent the biggest group. Additionally, since 2017, the growth rate in the number of volunteer farmers has been the highest, reaching 72.05%.

The report also mentions that 42.11% of volunteers prefer to join in volunteering activities during the weekends, 17.82% prefer personal vacations and 6.5% prefer national holidays. Only 5.35% of volunteers prefer volunteering after work on weekdays. Besides, 39.43% of volunteers participated in volunteer services three to four times in the past year, 23.93% did so two times or less, 22.54% at least once a month, and 12.22% one to three times per week. This data suggests that volunteering has turned into a lifestyle for some people in China.

Coming to the types of volunteer activities, 82.19% of activities included helping the elderly as one of their aims. Helping the disabled, community services and environmental protection are also popular among volunteer organizations, with 70% of all activities focused on these fields.

In addition, the report points out that although volunteer services in China have improved significantly in 2016, there are still problems and deficiencies in several aspects limiting further development. First of all, there is the problem of imbalanced development across different regions. Research shows that volunteer organizations in rural areas were only 5.53% of the total in 2016. Secondly, there is the need to improve organizational skills. In 2016, there were more than 180,000 registered volunteer organizations established in communities, however the serviceability of these grassroots organizations is not strong and has not yet met the public’s expectations. Thirdly, the guarantees provided to volunteers need to be refined. For instance, only 37.31% of volunteers involved in the research said that most of the volunteer activities had orientations beforehand, 16.37% said that all of the activities they had taken part in included orientations, and 15.57% said that they had never had an orientation. Also, the incentives offered to volunteers are mostly orientations and food, accounting for 54.72% and 46.21% respectively. Only 32.31% of activities provided insurance. Lastly, the report points out that the lack of codes of practice is a serious problem in the field. Using volunteers without complying with certain rules and regulations is a common occurrence.