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Chinese NGOs struggle to grow

Many of the unofficial groups lack know-how for training volunteers and keeping track of how donor money is spent.

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Two months after China's devastating earthquake, where do Chinese unofficial nongovernmental organizations stand?

Two months after such volunteer groups won widespread praise for delivering urgent quake relief, the government has not adjusted its restrictive policies toward them, as people in the field had hoped.

Many groups are continuing quake aid in Sichuan Province anyway. They're setting up offices in Chengdu, the provincial capital.

But some of them say NGOs' main challenge now isn't that the government won't let them grow. It's that they don't know how to grow.

"The biggest problems for NGOs are from inside the field.... They lack abilities and methods," says Zhai Yan, director of the Huizeren Volunteer Development Center, based in Beijing. "People who work in this field are not professionals."

During quake relief efforts, volunteers' work often overlapped or conflicted – coordinating was tough, given the scale of the tragedy, but also, many people just didn't know how to help.


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