Shanghai has introduced a new initiative to its social credit system that recognizes residents' contributions to society, in addition to their legal history.
The first beneficiaries would include 1.28 million registered volunteers, who have spent at least 10 hours on volunteer work, the government said yesterday.
They will be rewarded with prioritized access to public services, discounts for using public transport, and free access to cultural and sports events.
The details of the reward system have, however, yet to be worked out.
"Shanghai is the first city in China to introduce such a measure. With this effort, we hope to give people more incentives to serve as volunteers," said Yu Wei, Vice Head of the Department of Volunteer Services.
As of the end of last month, there were some 3.5 million registered volunteers in Shanghai. Collectively, they have spent about 234 million hours on volunteer work.
According to a government report on the development of voluntary service in Shanghai that was released in March, respondents of a survey said the most effective incentive for volunteers was to be given credits based on the time spent on such work. They preferred this to other benefits such as awards, education and money.
Every registered volunteer has an identity card and a digital profile, which allows real-time recording of the time spent on volunteering. However, many elderly volunteers have not tried to register for an identity card because of privacy concerns or they are unable to use smartphones.
"We will encourage them to register and think of other ways to help them to get their working hours recorded," Yu said.
Volunteers' credit information, based on time spent on voluntary work, would be updated at least once a year, Yu added.
Chen Wenjun, a retired English teacher who lives in Changning District's Chengqiao community, has been doing volunteer work for years. "It's a good idea to reward volunteers, but I personally have never expected anything in return for my work," she said. "I'm living a happy and fulfilled life after retirement by helping people from my community."