The increasing reliance on commercial income in the nonprofit sector (“nonprofit commercialization”) in various countries has become a highly contested topic. In recent years, Chinese nonprofits have also paid growing attention to commercial activities and revenue. However, empirical studies on the commercialization of Chinese nonprofits are limited. This study conducts the first empirical research to examine the scope and antecedents of nonprofit commercialization in China. Through a nationwide survey of 336 service-delivery nonprofits (private non-enterprise organizations), the study finds that Chinese nonprofits’ overall level of commercialization is modest, but the level varies substantially by organization. Further, informed by resource dependence theory, institutional theory, and organizational ecology theory, the study finds that Chinese nonprofit commercialization is driven by resource insufficiency, government connections, and environmental munificence. These findings extend the literature on nonprofit commercialization with new empirical evidence from a non-Western, authoritarian context.
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