What new Chinese NGO employees should know

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This article summarizes some of the main obstacles people can encounter when entering the public welfare sector in China for the first time. As the author explains, because Chinese civil society organizations are not as developed as in other countries, many of them have flawed working practices. Thus, sometime it is difficult for new NGO workers to carry out their work smoothly. The author points out five major issues. Firstly, a lack of fixed responsibilities. Often, once you enter an NGO you will find that nobody has a fixed duty, and everyone is doing a bit of everything. This might be detrimental for one’s personal development, as well as slow down the growth of the organization.

Secondly, one might be asked to do things beyond one’s current capabilities. It is not uncommon in Chinese NGOs to be asked to individually take on big projects. However, you might find yourself turn from one task to the other, unable to cope with such responsibilities. Moreover, the author points out that even in NGOs there are some forms of discrimination. In fact, sometimes because employees are extremely committed to their cause they tend to overlook issues of discrimination within their own organization. In particular the article mentions discrimination against volunteers, full-time employees, and NGOs in other sectors.

Another issue is related to the use of the Chinese law. It appears that Chinese organizations are not to familiar with laws related to their cause or governing their area of work. This is a big obstacle because NGOs are often called to protect certain public interests, but without a good understanding of the law their effectiveness is limited. Furthermore, the same employees can be put at risk because their employer fails to apply labour regulations correctly. Finally, the author advises Chinese NGOs to not set unrealistic goals for their work. It is better to be more humble than to set goals so high the organization will never be able to reach them. Reducing the gap between reality and aspiration is a good way to be efficient.