Center Director Lester Salamon Discusses the Future and Role of Foundations in China

By on June 27, 2017

In January 2017, Center Director Lester Salamon visited Beijing at the invitation of the Asia Foundation Beijing Office to speak to foundation leaders and students at the China Foundation Centre (CFC), China Donor Roundtable (CDR), and the China Global Philanthropy Institute (CGPI) about key issues facing the foundation and nonprofit sectors in China. This visit came at a particularly important time for China’s philanthropic sector, which the International Center for Nonprofit Law describes as follows: “Civil society and its accompanying legal framework have become considerably more complex in China in recent years. The range of nonprofit, philanthropic and other social organizations has expanded rapidly, as have their fields of activity and their partnerships with the government and business sectors. CSOs of various kinds are moving gradually but steadily from the margins of society into the mainstream.”
In particular, two new laws—the Charity Law, which establishes a “comprehensive framework for revamping the government’s management of the social sector;” and the ONGO law, which governs foreign NGOs operating in China—have come into effect in the past year, presenting both new opportunities and new challenges for the civil society sector in China. Within this context, Dr. Salamon presented “Foundation Realities and Possibilities: An Overview” at the CDR Annual Meeting on January 12, focusing on how foundations in China can think beyond grants to leverage their resources more effectively; the importance of seeing nonprofit organizations as crucial partners in carrying out key philanthropic and social objectives; and the resulting stake these philanthropic organizations have in strengthening and supporting such nonprofit organizations.
Later in the day at CGPI, Dr. Salamon presented the Philanthropication thru Privatization (PtP) project, which has particularly powerful implications in China—one of the most fertile fields in privatization today. In fact, as detailed by the Privatization Barometer’s PB Report for 2014-2015: “China was, by far, the leading privatizing country during both 2014 and 2015, raising $73.6 billion (€55.7 billion) during 2014, and an astonishing $133.3 billion (€123.0 billion) through August 2015.”
CGPI has uploaded Dr. Salamon’s presentation and an extended conversation on the PtP concept with students, scholars, and philanthropic leaders in its entirety here: Part 1 | Part 2.
During his visit, Dr. Salamon also sat down for a series of interviews, which you can view below:
Question: How do international NGOs contribute to China’s development?

Question: How can government, business, and civil society most effectively work together to promote social progress?

Question: What are the new trends emerging in the philanthropic sector?


Chelsea Newhouse is the Communications Manager for the Center for Civil Society Studies and manages the Center's Nonprofit Economic Data and Philanthropication thru Privatization Projects and the Nonprofit Works Interactive Database. Prior to joining the Center in 2008, she worked for the Johns Hopkins University Department of Molecular Biology & Genetics, the Baltimore Sun, and as a community organizer for Clean Water Action and the Democratic National Committee. She holds a degree in Philosophy from the University of Virginia. Chelsea can be reached at