Regional Overview

With its rapid economic expansion and burgeoning nonprofit sector, Shenzhen has a reputation as China’s Silicon Valley. Located in the Guangdong Province, Shenzhen was designated China’s first Special Economic Zone. Since this policy initiative in the 1980’s. the city has grown dramatically from a fishing village of 50,000 to home for more than 12 million people today. Of this population, around four million people are permanent registered residents while approximately 8 million people are non-registered workers that have migrated to the city for work. The city is also home to some of the largest technology corporations in China, including Huawei, Tencent and ZTE.

A nonprofit sector has also emerged in Shenzhen with young and vibrant organizations, shaped by both the political decentralization and the technology expansion. Although the city has an abundance of financial resources, the Shenzhen government is small in comparison to other large Chinese cities. Public institutions, such as schools and hospitals, are established according to the size of the registered population, thus they support only about a quarter of the total population in Shenzhen. With a large migrant population and small local government, a significant space has opened for the nonprofit sector to bridge the gap that exists between the demands of a large urban population and the available public services.

The research team is curious to explore how this developing nonprofit community compares to its more established counter parts in the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle. Through comparing these various cities, the research team will learn how different nonprofit sectors respond to problems. We think the transfer of these ideas will prove beneficial to all nonprofits and cities in our study.

The interactive map below shows the representative sample of nonprofits in Shenzhen. The color and size of each of the bubbles below indicate nonprofit density by district. The color bar at the top of the map indicates the distribution of organizations by subject area, which are aligned to National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE) codes. The registration date scale displays the evolution of the organizations by district over time. 


  • Total residents: 12.5 million 
  • Racial composition: 95% Han, 5% other
  • Median annual income: ~67,000-107,000 RMB ($10,000-$16,000 USD)
  • Poverty rate: 0 – 24.8%

Nonprofit Sector

  • Registered nonprofit organizations: 9,000 
  • Nonprofit ratio: 1,400 people: 1 registered nonprofit organization 


  • Area: 792 sq. mi (2051 sq. km)
  • Population density: 16,000/sq. mi (6,100/sq. km)
  • Founded: 1979