China's volunteers have grown rapidly in number over the last two decades, but many obstacles are still obstructing development of the sector.
By the end of November, China had over 40 million registered volunteers, according the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China ahead of International Volunteer Day on Thursday. The committee also predicts that the number of volunteers could exceed 60 million by 2018.
While the swelling ranks of volunteers offer much to society, challenges such as unbalanced resource allocation, low skill levels and lack of continuity still exist, said Qiao Yijie, a social work professor with Qinghai Normal University in northwest China.
In Qinghai Province, there is no shortage of volunteers at a children's home in the capital Xining. Donations pour in from across the nation to one of the country's best known homes, but the Minhe Recovery and Health Center for the Disabled in Haidong City, only about 100 km from Xining, is neglected, with few visitors.
"Institutions with fame attract more volunteers," said Qi Yongjin, center director.
"Due to lack of proper guidance, volunteers prefer to help the children rather than old people, and students rather than the disabled are more likely to get volunteer help," Qi said.
Volunteering is more often offered on special occasions such as holidays, and the lack of persistence in such work is another problem, Qiao said.