AbstractIn the past two decades, the number of grass-roots NGOs in China has grown dramatically, yet most scholarship on Chinese civil society has had little to say about the resources on which they rely for survival. This article presents the first large-scale study of these groups and their resources. We compare 263 NGOs across issue areas (including HIV, education, the environment and labor rights) and regions (Beijing, Guangdong and Yunnan). We find that these groups are tapping into high levels of human resources—volunteers, boards of directors and informal government ties—even without official government approval for their activities. We also detail their sources of funding, revealing a diverse support system with clear regional and issue-based biases. Taken together, our findings form a baseline for understanding China’s grass-roots NGOs and point out new research questions that have yet to be addressed in the civil society literature.
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