Number of volunteers reaches 217 million, report finds

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The National Institute of Social Development of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Social Science Academic Press recently released the inaugural issue of the “Volunteer Service Blue Book” — China Volunteer Service Development Report (2021-2022).

Here are a few takeaways:

Millions of volunteers

According to the National Volunteer Service Information System, as of Oct 30, 2021, the total number of volunteers in China had reached 217 million, with an average of 1,544 registered volunteers among every 10,000 people, accounting for about 15.4 percent of the total population.

There are 1.13 million voluntary groups and around 6.21 million voluntary projects have been recorded. The cumulative total of volunteer service hours is 1.61 billion, and the per capita volunteer service time is 7.44 hours.

The number of registered volunteers has increased from 2.92 million in 2012 to 217 million in 2021.

During the same period, the number of volunteer groups nationwide increased from 20,000 to 930,000, and the number of volunteer projects increased from 10,000 to 5.41 million.

Survey findings

The China Volunteer Service Research Center launched an evaluation survey of the “New Era Civilization Practice Volunteer Service Work” in 2020, and the results revealed that volunteer services have attracted widespread participation, and have a large coverage offering in-depth services. However, problems remain.

Restricting factors

Firstly, the level of economic development in some areas is an important factor restricting the development of volunteer services, according to the report. In addition, local funding is also a factor restricting the development of volunteer services — volunteering is free, but organizing volunteering activities is not. Thirdly, the allocation of resources for volunteer services is still uneven.

According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, as of the end of 2019, the number of Chinese aged 60 and above was about 254 million, accounting for 18.1 percent of the country’s total population, and the numbers of people aged 65 and above reached 176 million, accounting for 12.6 percent.

Coinciding with the aging population is the “hollowing out” phenomenon observed in rural communities. The large number of rural laborers heading to the country’s cities for work has caused the population in the countryside to shrink. But it has also left a disproportionate number of elderly people living in rural areas – something that also impacts volunteer work.

In general, the level of economic development, the allocation of resources, certain social problems (such as aging, the hollowing out of rural communities, etc.) arising in the process of social development — combined with the impact of the pandemic — all restrict the development of volunteer services, and these problems need to be solved urgently.