[Chinese Political Science Review] A Typological Study of the Recent Development and Landscape of Foundations in China

Qun Wang
Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Bloomington, USA

Foundations in China’s nonprofit sector have been increasing in both number and importance. However, scholarly research and nonacademic reports have left a question in the literature waiting to be answered: What led to the recent development and landscape of foundations in China? To answer this question within the framework of “manufactured civil society,” the typological method was used, in which 3342 foundations founded before 2014 were divided into seven types with regard to their founders and policy-related issues, namely government-created, corporate, school, family, religious, community, and independent. The results show that, to a large degree, (1) the government has been one of the major drivers behind the foundations’ development and (2) the government’s attitude and policy toward foundations have shaped and will continue to shape the foundation landscape in China.

Foundation Typology Manufactured civil society Government-nonprofit relationship China

Fulltext (dataset available): https://doi.org/10.1007/s41111-018-0094-2

Expanding to panel dataset: Identify the same foundation across different years

As the dataset grows, RICF is being expanded to panel database. One of the most critical challenges is to identify the same foundation across different years. The “ricf_oid.tsv” is built to resolve this issue. You can find this file under the root directory (GitHub master branch).


  • ricf_oid: RICF unique organization ID.
  • ba_cn: Foundation name used by RICF.
  • nacao_uscc: Unified Social Credit Code (统一社会信用代码) developed by  NACAO (http://www.nacao.org.cn/; 全国组织机构统一社会信用代码数据服务中心).
  • name_set: String token recording all the aliases of a foundation, names are splited by “#”. This variable can be used for “fuzzy matching”, although errors may occur. Use with caution!

[Voluntas] From Direct Involvement to Indirect Control? A Multilevel Analysis of Factors Influencing Chinese Foundations’ Capacity for Resource Mobilization

Qian Wei
Department of Sociology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John’s, Canada

Fulltext: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11266-017-9924-3

Some nonprofits easily attract resources, while others struggle to survive. However, little is known about what characteristics account for the difference in nonprofit organizations’ capacity to mobilize resources, especially in authoritarian countries. Using multilevel modeling techniques and a national sample of 3344 philanthropic foundations in 31 regions of mainland China, this research seeks to address this knowledge gap by examining the effect of both organizational and contextual factors on foundations’ revenues, paying special attention to the government’s role. Results show that the distribution of resources is highly unbalanced in China’s foundation sector and that foundations with particular characteristics are systematically favored. By exploring what factors give foundations the edge in mobilizing resources, this study reveals how the Chinese government has used a more sophisticated, indirect method than direct control to shape resource distribution and regulate the development of nonprofits. Social organizations can survive and even thrive, but only certain types.

Keywords: Resource mobilization; Foundations; Government control; Multilevel modeling

The author would like to thank Liam Swiss, Anton Oleinik, Qun Wang, Huafang Li, Bin Chen and two anonymous reviewers for their comments on earlier versions of this article. All errors in this work are entirely the author’s. This paper was presented at the 45th Annual Conference of the Association of Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA), in Washington, DC, on November 18, 2016.

[Social Networks] State power and elite autonomy in a networked civil society: The board interlocking of Chinese non-profits

Ji Ma, Simon DeDeo

In response to failures of central planning, the Chinese government has experimented not only with free-market trade zones, but with allowing non-profit foundations to operate in a decentralized fashion. A network study shows how these foundations have connected together by sharing board members, in a structural parallel to what is seen in corporations in the United States and Europe. This board interlocking leads to the emergence of an elite group with privileged network positions. While the presence of government officials on non-profit boards is widespread, government officials are much less common in a subgroup of foundations that control just over half of all revenue in the network. This subgroup, associated with business elites, not only enjoys higher levels of within-elite links, but even preferentially excludes government officials from the NGOs with higher degree. The emergence of this structurally autonomous sphere is associated with major political and social events in the state–society relationship. Cluster analysis reveals multiple internal components within this sphere that share similar levels of network influence. Rather than a core-periphery structure centered around government officials, the Chinese non-profit world appears to be a multipolar one of distinct elite groups, many of which achieve high levels of independence from direct government control.

J.M. thanks Dr. Zhaonan Zhu and Bin Chen for assistance with coding; Qun Wang and the RICF data quality team for data collection and data quality control. S.D. thanks the Santa Fe Institute and the Alan Turing Institute for their hospitality while this work was completed. We thank Dr. Peter Frumkin and the 2016 Penn Summer Doctoral Fellows Program fellows, Dr. Richard Steinberg, Dr. Lehn Benjamin, Dr. Bin Chen, Dr. Xinsong Wang, Xunyu Xiang, Xiaoyun Wang, Bradi Heaberlin, and Torrin Liddell for their valuable comments. The RICF project is supported in part by the Dunhe Foundation.

Fulltext: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socnet.2017.10.001 (Open Access)
Datasets in “state power and elite autonomy in a networked civil society”





Continue reading “职务性与制度性政治关联对基金会收入的影响”

RICF 2015 Data Released 2015年数据更新 (v2015.1.0)

Download the versioned release: https://github.com/ma47/RICF/releases


Change log:

  • Release 2015 data tables: basic and financial activities.
  • Improve data quality: 2013 basic table, 2014 basic and financial position table.
  • Add new variables to codebook:
    • ba_accf, 会计师事务所名称, Name of accounting firm doing audit
    • ba_stck, 持有股权的实体数, Number of entities of which the foundation has stocks or shares
  • Other minor edits.

[资助] RICF为参加ARNOVA亚洲会议的学者提供资助



  1. 论文被会议接受,获得展示机会;
  2. 展示论文使用RICF数据(可以同时使用其它来源数据,但主要研究结论必须基于RICF);
  3. 在北京以外的地区学习或工作(不限大陆)
  4. 在校生(本硕博)、教师及研究人员均可申请。




  1. 论文接收通知;
  2. 完整论文;
  3. 个人简历(因财务流程需要,请提供个人身份证号码与联系方式)。


请将申请资料于2017年5月10日前发送至office@intetix.com, 并抄送wq@intetix.com(王群),邮件主题:姓名-单位-ARNOVA亚洲。



[Preprint] Are the Wealthy Also Healthy? An Empirical Evaluation of the Financial Health of Chinese Foundations

Qun Wang, Indiana University Bloomington
Lijun He, Pace University

Since the 2004 Regulations of Administration of Foundations, there has been no research on Chinese foundations’ financial health. Considering the importance of foundations in the civil society, this is a needed task. The present paper conducts an empirical evaluation of their financial health using 2,763 foundations with 10,102 observations. The adapted Tuckman and Chang (1991) model, which measures adequacy of equity, revenue diversification, administrative cost ratio and operating margin, reveals that two thirds of the foundations are not financially healthy. From 2008 to 2013, foundations’ overall financial health has improved only to a limited extent. Public foundations outperform private foundations, but not on all measures. A group of recent foundations show that in a short run, foundations may improve on some measures but in general their financial health deteriorates. This may indicate a nonlinear learning curve for foundations to be financially better-off. Organizational variables are largely correlated with the four measures; revenue diversification and administrative cost ratio are more likely to correlate with financial variables. This research contributes to theoretical hypothesizing and practical foundation financial health benchmarking.

Full-text available https://www.researchgate.net/publication/312119633_Are_the_Wealthy_Also_Healthy_An_Empirical_Evaluation_of_the_Financial_Health_of_Chinese_Foundations