The best volunteering opportunities for kids in Shanghai

Help kids engage with topical issues and give something back to the world via one of these organisations

Volunteering is a fun and great way to introduce children to a whole new world of opportunities beyond the confinements of school. Whether you're enthusiastic about finding new shelters for animals, trying your hands on farming or even starting your own charity initiative, there's something for all junior do-gooders in Shanghai.

For DIY lovers

There are plenty of organisations available to help student groups to start up their own charity projects. Check out Shanghai Roots & Shoots, part of the Jane Goodall Institute, which helps groups of students of any age to set up their own projects locally – either in school or the wider community. All you need to do is contact the institute and tell them about your field of interest – whether that's in environmental issues or animal welfare – and they will help identify nearby institutions and charities that might need assistance and provide you with support in contacting them.

Download a group application form from to sign up.

For animal lovers

In addition to running pet fostering and adoption programmes, Second Chance Animal Aid (SCAA) organises monthly visits (usually on Sundays) to their Baoshan-based shelter project, which currently houses over 120 abandoned cats. Volunteers may help with feeding and grooming the animals as well as cleaning the facility. SCAA accepts individual volunteers of any age, although under-18s will need a consent and waiver form signed by a parent, while children under 15 should be accompanied by an adult. If need some more fuzzy cuddles in your life, but are unable to stretch to a fostering or adoption programme, this is a great short-term commitment.

Visit or email for more details.

For eco-warriors

Environmental volunteering opportunities abound in Shanghai. Pudong-based urban farming project BioFarm offers a variety of volunteer opportunities, where kids of all ages are welcome to help out with weeding, feeding animals and composting on a ‘one-day volunteer’ project basis.

Another option is River of Hearts, a Pudong-based outreach programme run by Community Center Shanghai that focuses on helping people in need in Mainland China by donating clothing, shoes, bedding, toys and other items in good nick. The programme offers volunteer opportunities for kids age 16 and over with the chance of sorting, packing and loading donated goods on a location-based project basis.

Visit BIOFarm's website at and River of Hearts at for details.

For bilinguals

Green-minded but don’t fancy getting your hands dirty? If you’re 17 or over and have the appropriate language skills, you could try typing for charity. Greenpeace China is always in need of bilingual speakers (Mandarin and English) to translate their online content. Once you’ve taken a test to check that your language level is up to scratch, you can start translating on a schedule that suits you. The same goes for China Dialogue, an online environmental non-profit organisation, which needs volunteers who speak both Mandarin and English to translate their content.

For Greenpeace China, contact to request a preliminary language test. For China Dialogue, send your CV to

For sociable sorts

If you’re an outgoing type who’s happiest bringing smiles to other people’s faces, HandsOn Shanghai runs 50 group-based activities every month at elderly care centres, children’s hospitals and specialist migrant schools. There’s no age limit, though activities are age-dictated: under-18s are limited to singing, dancing and playing games with elderly residents or sick children, while older volunteers can get involved with teaching, mentoring and after-school sports, music or art clubs. Events take place during weekday evenings or at weekends, and you can sign up on an activity-by-activity basis, so long-term commitment isn’t necessary.

Meanwhile Shanghai Healing Home runs a student-specific programme on Saturdays for 16 to 18-year-olds that includes ‘playgroup’ sessions with babies with special needs and project-based tasks such as toys and clothes sorting days and fundraisers.

For HandsOn Shanghai, visit or e-mail For Shanghai Healing Home, fill out an online student registration form at

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