Key Points

Amid the accumulation of private wealth in China, family foundations have begun to emerge in recent decades. Little research, however, has explored this nascent phenomenon. This article examines the development of two Chinese family foundations — the Lao Niu Foundation and the Lu Jiaxiang Foundation — using document analyses and semi-structured interviews with foundation leaders.

While detailed data on program effectiveness and efficiency is lacking because of underdeveloped methods of evaluation, it is evident that both foundations have generated positive impacts on social development despite an overall lack of support for the foundation sector from Chinese government policy.

The case studies indicate that Chinese family foundations are exploring new paths in an increasingly mature philanthropic environment, and suggest several development approaches for family foundations in China and other emerging philanthropic sectors.

Open Access