The China Welfare Institute was founded by Soong Ching Ling, Honorary President of the People’s Republic of China, in Hong Kong on June 14, 1938. It was originally named the China Defense League. In December 1941, CDL was moved to Chongqing, and it fully rallied support for the War of Chinese People against Japanese Aggression. In December 1945, it was renamed the China Welfare Fund with its headquarters moved to Shanghai to support the great cause of liberation of the Chinese people. Meanwhile, it was active in promoting children welfare through cultural and educational programs. In August 1950, the name was changed to the China Welfare Institute, with its guidelines set to run experimental and demonstrative projects in women and children's health care and children’s culture, education and welfare, enhance scientific researches, and continue international exchanges and cooperation. The highest authority of CWI is its executive committee, which consists of a chairman, vice-chairmen and executive members. The executive members are officials of relevant departments and organizations at the central level and in Shanghai Municipality. The secretary general has overall responsibility for its routine work under the leadership of the Party Leadership Group. CWI is successively chaired by Soong Ching Ling, Liao Chengzhi, Kang Keqing, Huang Hua and Hu Qili. Wang Jiarui is the current chairman. 

        Since China's reform and opening up, CWI has inherited and carried forward Soong Ching Ling's guideline of giving our wholehearted service to women and children. Based in Shanghai with its aim at serving the nation and the world, CWI adheres to high standards, continues enhancing its quality of service and expands the scope of its undertakings, which cover seven fields,including maternal and children healthcare, school education, out-of-school education, children’s play, children’s publishing, old-age benefits and publicly raised funds. The “Three Awards and One Festival”, i.e., Soong Ching Ling Scholarship, Soong Ching Ling Camphor Tree Award, Soong Ching Ling Children’s Education Award and Shanghai International Children’s Cultural and Arts Festival, have become well-known brands across China. CWI also carries out several initiatives for serving the national strategies, e.g. Chunxiao Initiative, Snow Lotus Initiative, Chunlan Initiative, Igniting Initiative and National Training Initiative, which add more splendor to its undertakings.