The most significant social consequence of China’s economic reform is the increasing diversification of public resources, interests, and needs. A modern nation, regardless of its political system, must find it imperative to combine public and private efforts in providing social services for its citizens.

The Chinese government has also begun to realize the essentiality as well as the benefits of encouraging the growth of nonprofit organizations and private philanthropy. However, the concept and operation of the nonprofit sector of a modern nation have not been adequately understood in China.

In The Third Force: America’s Nonprofit Organizations and People-to-People Diplomacy, Yong Lu presents an introduction of the U.S. nonprofit sector and private philanthropy to the Chinese audience. The book provides every detail of the nonprofit system in the United States, ranging from the historical background and structure to contemporary development and innovation of the institution. In addition, Lu discusses how private, nonprofit organizations can play an important role in public policy making and diplomacy.

The purpose of the book is to enhance the Chinese understanding of America’s nonprofit sector and help clarify numerous common misperceptions on this subject. This study not only clarifies the scope, structure, rationale, and operation of the nonprofit sector, but also examines the subject from historical and cultural perspectives and puts it into context in relation to government and business. The book should generate discussion on both Western experiences in philanthropy and how China can develop its own version of vibrant nonprofit sector and civil society.

It is the first Chinese-language book to provide a systematic, comprehensive, and cutting-edge analysis of America’s nonprofit sector based on both extensive research and firsthand professional experience.

The discussions are organized into three major sections. The four chapters that comprise Part I provide a broad overview of the nonprofit sector and its role in American life.

Chapter 1 defines what nonprofit organizations have in common and explores their rationale and social functions. It also examines various types of nonprofits, their different tax treatments and political activity restrictions, and then looks in detail at the public-benefit organizations.

Chapter 2 explores how government facilitates, finances, and regulates nonprofit activities, and how nonprofits, in turn, shape the way government serves the public. It examines the blurring of the boundaries between nonprofits and business as the two sectors develop partnerships and new organizational forms.

Chapter 3 turns to the history, culture, and underlying values of American philanthropy. It explains the evolution from individual charity to organized philanthropy, and emphasizes the role of religion and rule of law in the making of nonprofit sector.

Chapter 4 reviews some of the key challenges and trends that nonprofits are facing today.

Against this backdrop, the four chapters of Part II discuss the practices and principles for managing the nonprofit organization.

Chapter 5 examines the all-important questions of vision, mission, and leadership.

Chapter 6 tackles nonprofit governance and self-regulation issues, including Board development, bylaws, fiscal procedures, and personnel policy.

Chapter 7 addresses how to convert the organization’s mission statement into specifics. It discusses detailed strategies and tactics for program innovation, marketing, and fundraising.

Chapter 8 focuses on the essentials for building an accountable and financially sound organization.

Part III then looks closely at nonprofits in the field of diplomacy and international affairs.

Chapter 9 argues that in today’s world the target audience of diplomacy must not only include foreign governments but also include all aspects of the society in a given country. The nonprofit organizations can be very effective in engaging foreign publics and conducting people-to-people diplomacy.

Chapter 10 examines the influence of think tanks in policy-making process.

Chapter 11 examines the operation of private foundations and their international programs.

Chapter 12 focuses on several nonprofits that play a key role in promoting U.S.-China mutual understanding, including the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, Asia Society, China Institute, Committee of 100, China-related museums, and business leagues.

The epilogue concludes the book by offering recommendations for China.

First, nonprofit organizations will be beneficial to social stability. The nonprofit sector provides a vehicle through which specialized demands and interests can be pursued in a legal and nonviolent manner. It also provides an appropriate mechanism through which private wealth can be redistributed for public needs.

Second, nonprofit development requires other infrastructure, including a strong market economy, rule of law, public trust, and modern financial systems.

Third, nonprofit organizations need to adopt professional management methods.

Overall, Lu prompts readers to understand nonprofits as a viable way advantageous to meet the social needs that inevitably come out of the rapid modernization of the country. The author suggests that the government should trust, tolerate, and encourage nonprofit activities and work together with the private sector on carrying out various social tasks.

For more information about the book, visit the China Social Sciences Academic Press website.