In August 2002, the Service Center for the Reform of the Community-based Non-governmental Organization Management System was established by the Changshoulu Subdistrict Office of the Putuo District in Shanghai. The Center was designed to provide support and assistance to non-governmental organizations (NGOs). After considerable exploration, the Center established a management system that is characterized by service delivery, management, and early-warning notification. In 2003, the Shanghai Municipal Department of Civil Affairs extended this System to the entire city. As of 2007, 59 centers have been established in Shanghai.
Each Center, is a service platform for NGOs that provide services, assistance to those in difficult situations, and serves as an "incubator" to guide and support development of new organizations. In addition, the Center takes on tasks assigned by the local government, such as conducting investigations and evaluations NGOs, family adoptions, and running Charity Supermarkets.
Facets of the system include:
A Comprehensive Registration System for Social Organizations. By requiring that all NGOs register at the Center, it has created a comprehensive early-warning system that assists government departments in providing immediate assistance. The Center is also empowered to register small community-based social organizations which are usually prohibited from registering by government regulations. Since the management network is connected to the Administration Bureau of Social Organizations it facilitates management of numerous organizations in a more flexible manner.
Improved management: With the help of the Center, NGOs are learning about self-development, self-management, self-education, and self-service. In addition, the Subdistrict Office is kept informed of the latest developments of NGOs and their needs and capabilities.
Coordination: When government and NGOs join forces, it reduces the cost of government administration and increases the efficiency of service delivery. By subsidizing development of the Center and other social organizations, Changshou has successfully transferred some service functions formerly performed by government to various civil organizations. This has not only facilitated development of civil organizations, but also improved service delivery for residents.
Early Warning System. Relying on the platform set up by the Center, the government is fostering and supporting development of NGOs. Under the Center's guidance, these organizations are beginning to take on responsibilities that are being transferred from the government. In addition, an increasing number of NGOs are pooling their resources to better serve residents and contribute to local community construction. Finally, to improve communication, party branches are also established in these non-governmental organizations.
Service Delivery. Charity Supermarket, run by the Center, is devoted to charitable work in the community, such as providing financial and medical aid to the disadvantaged. Assistance offered by the Charity Supermarket has more social impact than conventional assistance programs because it utilizes social resources in an effort to develop mutual social aid. More importantly, it also demonstrates to citizens that the local government attaches great importance to meeting their needs.
Although the Service Center for Non-governmental Organizations maintains a close cooperative relation with local government, it should not be considered as "a second government." It serves as a bridge for communication and interaction between government and civil society and can offer approaches that might improve government functions.
There are still several issues to be addressed as the system is expanded, such as how to perfect the mechanism of the Service Center and how to further expand its functions.