China and Inner Asia

Organized Panel Session

2 - One Alternative, Two Logics, Three Options: China’s “New Normal” NGO Funding Game

Friday, July 6
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Jacaranda I, First Floor

Recently the “ecology of opportunity” for NGOs in China has changed significantly. First, the government has changed from exerting tight control to creating a boom in demand for NGOs. Second, private philanthropic foundations supporting grassroots NGO development grow rapidly. Third, most NGOs need domestic funding sources after the new “Foreign NGOs Management Law” took effect. How are NGOs’ daily practices affected by such grand changes in the environment? Through ethnographic fieldwork, interviews, and focus groups, this study describes the grassroots NGOs’ experience with the government’s purchase-of-services contracting and the private foundations’ grant schemes in Shanghai, Beijing, and Sichuan. It illustrates that the foundations’ business management style and “investment” approach stand in contrast to the government’s bureaucratic operandi modus and “purchasing” rationale in NGO project selection, performance evaluation, and programme expansion. Thus, foundations offer an alternative or even become a competitor to the government in funding NGOs, enabling the NGOs to grow and operate in versatile ways. But given the foundations’ reliance on state permission and support, they are generally risk-averse and don’t deviate from state intentions. Moreover, government agencies and foundations have together created a result-driven, competitive and institutionalized environment where the NGOs are highly dependent on the funders, face various isomorphic pressures and easily lose sight of the organizational mission. In response, NGOs adopted constantly-evolving, multifaceted resource strategies to adapt to, maneuver through, or shy away from the “new normal” funding game predominantly 

Yi Kang

Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong

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2 - One Alternative, Two Logics, Three Options: China’s “New Normal” NGO Funding Game



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