Shanghai has become of the world’s largest economies. Few geographic areas have ever experienced such rapid growth over such a short period of time. Of course, this growth has had serious side effects: income equality is lopsided, the housing market is greatly inflated, and the environment has been sidelined for greater industrialization. Volunteers are definitely needed in many fields in Shanghai.

Program Types

Youth Development & Education

The demand for English teachers is high in Shanghai, a place that is becoming a more popular Western tourist destination each day. Teaching English to kindergarten or elementary school students can be a rewarding experience and a great way to culturally immerse yourself. For many programs, prior teaching experience is not needed.

Community Development

Shanghai is a paradise for the rich but a challenge for the poor. As the city experiences rapid economic growth, more farmers have left the countryside to find work in the city, only to find high housing prices and poor living conditions. Some ways volunteers can help improve community conditions by working at soup kitchens and local hospitals or clinics.

Planning Your Trip

Volunteering Tips

NGOs/Non-Profit/Volunteer History: Considering how strict the Chinese government is, there is a wide variety of NGOs in Shanghai ranging from clothing and toy distribution to low-income families to helping children of imprisoned parents to teaching English.

How Volunteering in Shanghai Will Help Your Future: Shanghai is bound to continue growing exponentially for at least the next decade or two. To see how such growth affects everyday life of low-income families can be a transforming experience that might impact your long-term aspirations.

Questions to Ask: What kind of transportation is best for commuting around the city? Should I speak proficient Mandarin before volunteering? Is this smog a problem?

Health and Safety of Volunteers in Shanghai

Shanghai does not experience frequent episodes of violent crime. Pick-pocketing in crowded areas and scams, whether in a tea house or in a taxi, are much more common. Like any bustling city, keep your eyes peeled for suspicious activity and don’t leave valuables in plain sight. When you’re in a foreign place and don’t know the language, cautiousness can be an important ally.

Shanghai is a major city and is still susceptible to disease. You should take the following vaccinations before volunteering in Shanghai: diphteria, hepatitis A & B, influenza, polio, and typhoid. Although some of these vaccines combat diseases found more commonly in rural areas, it’s best to be on the safe side, right?

Visas for Volunteering in Shanghai

A volunteering visa for Shanghai and greater China requires can be a single, double, or multiple entry visa depending on how long you plan on staying. Given how strict the Chinese government is in monitoring who enters and leaves, be sure to check what documents you must submit well before your departure date. For more information about Chinese visas, consult Visa HQ.

Volunteer Programs in Shanghai

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Other Volunteer Programs in China

Not enough options in Shanghai? Check out these other Volunteer Abroad programs in China!

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