Whatever your passion is with regards to giving back to the community, Shanghai has an organization eager for you to join. We all have our well-honed skills from a previous life, so why not match these with a charity that will benefit greatly from what you have to offer? Volunteering yourself is meaningful work, and spending time with those at the helm of the charities is nothing short of inspiring; they make you want to be a better person. So, let’s take a look at what you can do in Shanghai that fulfills the side in all of us that yearns for meaning – our soul.
Everyone experiences challenging times, and sometimes we need to reach out, be heard and understood. Lifeline Shanghai provides a helpline and online chat service for the English- speaking community throughout China, and their volunteers work tirelessly advocating mental health issues throughout the year. The helpline is open daily, all year round from 10am to 10pm, and the helpline assistants offer understanding and non-judgmental support. It’s a place for those in need to call and speak openly and confidentially. The callers can provide information and referrals to other professional services to help people receive the extra support they may need.
As a 100 percent volunteer organization, Lifeline Shanghai relies solely on community support to continue their work, and there are many ways to get involved. They recruit helpline assistants twice a year, with thorough training for those who join the team. In addition, they have positions within their organization to undertake fundraising, office administration, event management and editorial support. Reach out to the team today and see where you can lend your valuable skills by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
See listing for Lifeline Shanghai here.
Rotary Club Shanghai
Rotary International is based in various cities around the world and bring people together by serving the community. They collaborate with over 35,000 clubs to promote peace, fight disease, support education and provide clean water, sanitation and hygiene. The Rotary Club of Shanghai meets every week to discuss new service projects, and with a focus on many different issues, volunteers are always needed and guaranteed to find something they are passionate about.
See listing for Rotary Club of Shanghai here.
Safe Haven Shanghai
Safe Haven Shanghai is a new organization constituted by volunteers who provide information, support and services to individuals and families suffering domestic and relationship abuse. This helpline is an avenue to reach out for guidance and assistance with what steps callers can take to break the cycle of violence.
There are four different types of volunteer positions available. Phone intake volunteers are the initial point of contact for callers, and they collect the information needed to connect them with the right resources. Advocate volunteers assist with the implementation of a safety plan to empower survivors and provide them with emotional and personal welfare support. Administrative roles help with tasks such as roster scheduling, donation tracking and data analytics. Fundraising volunteers support the efforts to raise the much-needed funds to maintain the ongoing services available to the victims of domestic violence. This includes grant and sponsorship management and raising awareness in the community. If you possess a professional background in psychology or social work, please consider volunteering yourself to Safe Haven Shanghai, as you can provide valuable support to the clinical team’s case management.
All recruits will undertake in-depth training and Safe Haven Shanghai is looking for those who are compassionate, dependable and sincere and can commit to a regular schedule to assist in managing this valuable resource for the Shanghai community. Contact them via email: email@example.com.
See listing for Safe Haven here.
Founded in 2006 by an American mom, Shanghai Mamas is recognized as the largest online community for international families in Shanghai. With over 5,000 members, they provide a stable support system to help you settle in and make lifelong friends, a safe place to ask for advice and find practical and emotional support. Among their many activities are their weekday coffee mornings, held in different areas of the city. They have an open invitation drop-in, so whenever you’re free, you can always count on a member of Shanghai Mamas to welcome you. They also have their ‘Shanghai Talk’ series covering topics from finance to raising third culture kids, a book club for the readers out there, a mom’s night out and an online forum to ensure working parents can access their services and information too.
In addition to joining in their community activities, Shanghai Mamas are always on the lookout for volunteers across many areas of the group. Help them plan an event, be part of their editorial team or host a playdate or get-together, there is something for everyone, and it makes their community stronger. Their website is very comprehensive, with guides to living in Shanghai, blogs that provide an anecdotal touch, or a more in-depth view on a topic and extremely useful classifieds. This impressive group of volunteers genuinely make a difference to international families living in Shanghai, so reach out to them to join the group and gain all you can from life in this fantastic city.
See listing for Shanghai Mamas here.
Children and Infant Programs
Beacon of Love
Beacon of Love is a non-profit charity organization that raises awareness for children who have congenital heart disease (CHD) in China. Every year, the charity hosts a carnival event in partnership with Shanghai Children’s Health Foundation to help raise money for the children and awareness about their condition. The charity has funded close to RMB10 million to help children receive life-saving surgeries. The goal of this organization is to ensure that these underprivileged children have an opportunity to live a healthy life with a bright future.
Donations to this charity help fund lifesaving medical procedures that these children need. To date, the organization has helped support 221 lifesaving heart operations for children in China.
Beacon of Love is always looking for volunteers to help out with events, raffles or sponsorship solicitation.
See listing for Beacon of Love here.
Heart to Heart Shanghai
Heart to Heart is a volunteer organization that helps provide corrective surgeries for children born with congenital heart defects (CHD) whose families are under financial constraints. Since its foundation in 2003, they have sponsored more than 1,230 children across China. These surgeries not only save the child’s life but also enhance the lives of their families. Heart to Heart is a 100 percent volunteer organization, so they are always looking for more volunteers.
Volunteers can visit the hospital playroom or help the assembly team create schedules and activities for the sponsored children and their families. Another way to support these children is by purchasing a ‘Heart Bear.’ These bears wear hand-made clothing with a crystal heart that is made by the Heart to Heart volunteers. To date, over 20,200 bears have been sold, and all proceeds go towards children's medical bills. You can find them at bazaars around Shanghai throughout the year or contact the email address below. Contact them via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
See listing for Heart to Heart Shanghai here.
Shanghai Baby’s Home
Shanghai Baby’s Home is a non-profit organization that helps orphan babies from impoverished towns seek the medical care they need. They are partnered with some of the top medical companies and professionals in Shanghai and specialize in helping babies with life-threatening conditions such as cerebral palsy, cleft lip and palate. After the babies undergo surgery, they seek out foster homes for them.
This organization was founded by 11 mothers from various backgrounds in Shanghai. They decided to start up Shanghai Baby’s Home after seeing a plea from an orphanage that needed help with infants who were very ill. Since the infants are from impoverished villages, they are mostly unable to seek treatment there. They are transferred straight to one of the many medical facilities in Shanghai for medical care. This organization was founded in 2008 and since then, they have saved the lives of at least 40 infants and helped them find loving homes.
Volunteers are always needed, whether you would like to care for a child or donate funds to contribute to their ongoing work.
See listing for Shanghai Baby’s Home here.
Chunhui Children is an organization that aims to help vulnerable children in China by providing them nurturing care and education programs. The organization is working with supportive, government-run Social Welfare Institutions to bring their professional help and programs to these children in need. Chunhui Children recruits committed local people and trains them to become professional nannies, teachers, mentors and foster parents who provide family-like nurturing.
This child-centered approach helps babies from the time they are born into young adulthood. They believe that every child needs a loving, caring adult to thrive. Founded in 1998, Chunhui began their first program in 2000. Since then, they have treated over 162,900 children and trained over 35,000 caretakers.
Volunteers are needed, and sponsors are always appreciated. Volunteers can foster or mentor a child, hold fundraising events or even a home party for the underprivileged children that Chunhui is looking after. Sponsors can donate to the babies or the mothers/caretakers of the children.
See listing for Chunhui Children here.
Shanghai Adream Charitable Foundation
This non-profit organization in Shanghai focuses on solving education inequality for children across the country. Founded in 2008, Adream provides children with an education system that integrates into local curriculums and helps facilitate classrooms learning. They believe that education is what helps children find their passions, so with this program, they strive to make sure children grow up with confidence and dignity.
They train teachers and donate computers and holistic curriculums to poor, urban inner-city schools. Volunteers are always welcome to help teach their curriculums to children. They welcome volunteers of any nationality, although it is helpful if you speak Chinese.
See listing for Shanghai Adream Charitable Foundation here.
Shanghai Sunrise is a non-profit organization which breaks the cycle of poverty by raising educational funds for underprivileged and at-risk youths in Shanghai. Founded in 1996, Shanghai Sunrise has raised over RMB30 million, an equivalent of 11,000 high school and university scholarships for over 2,500 students. Volunteers are at the core of the Shanghai Sunrise operation, and they are always on the lookout for people to generously invest their skills, minds and hearts to support the needs of the young people they strive to assist.
Volunteering opportunities range from event management and generating public awareness to fundraising, sponsor engagement, community outreach, marketing, accounting and IT. Volunteers can offer their time daily, weekly or monthly. During this time they will foster friendships and be given a sense of purpose that comes from working with a team and helping people in need. Contact them via email: email@example.com.
See listing for Shanghai Sunrise here.
Stepping Stones is a charity organization that bridges the rural-urban educational divide through English education. This organization strives to help kids receive a better education by sending volunteers to different schools every week to teach English. They reach thousands of students by working in more than 30 migrant workers’ schools and community centers in Shanghai and Zhejiang province, and more than a dozen schools in rural China.
This program offers a rewarding way to educate children. With over 5,000 students receiving English tuition each week, you can take on a variety of roles from English teaching, tutoring, video link teaching or a tour volunteer at rural locations. Volunteers are asked to teach three to six hours per week for a minimum of three to four months. There are also other positions available, such as tutoring and working as a substitute teacher. For those who prefer to work from outside the classroom, they can volunteer in a fundraising, digital content management, marketing, translation, editorial, finance or photography role.
See listing for Stepping Stones here.
Best Friends China
Every year, many abandoned animals suffer from lack of adequate care. Founded in 2012, Best Friends China is an animal adoption agency that strives to help as many cats and dogs as possible to receive the care they need to survive and thrive. Best Friends China uses its digital platform and partnerships with rescue groups to publicize animals in need of a loving home. Their goal is to set up rescue and adoption protocols that ensure animals go to responsible families. And, if pet lovers are not ready to adopt, they can always foster a pet until they find a permanent home. This process gives the precious animals a break from the shelter, and besides, they are a great company to have at home.
Best Friends China is managed entirely by volunteers who promote the program on Chinese and English websites and host regular adoption days downtown. They are always looking for people who are passionate about animals to join their dedicated team or adopt a pet in need. The team at Best Friends China also runs a WeChat Mini Program which you can follow to learn more about the animals who need a family and how you can sign up to volunteer yourself at one of their events.
See listing for Best Friends China here.
Second Chance Animal Aid Shanghai
Second Chance Animal Aid is a nonprofit organization focused on improving the health of animals through training, education, medical care and foster care. Since Shanghai has no city shelter, if you rescue an animal, it is yours. SCAA accepts fostering animals and adoption responsibility until the animal has a permanent home. Their foster homes have limited space, so volunteers are always needed. Thanks to our volunteers, SCAA has helped rescue over 1,000 animals.
See listing for Second Chance Animal Aid here.
Spare Leash makes life easier by providing pet sitters for busy people in China. Whether it’s a long day at work or a vacation, Spare Leash sitters will take care of your pet while you’re away. These pet-sitters can walk your dog, care for your furry friend in your apartment, or you can drop off your pet at their home. Vet runs are also available. The Spare Leash pet caring services are cage-free, safe and reliable.
You can get involved with Spare Leash by becoming a pet-sitter yourself. They currently have over 800 registered pet-sitters and are always looking for dedicated animal lovers to join their teams in Shanghai, Nanjing, Beijing, Hangzhou and Suzhou.
See listing for Spare Leash here.
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