Nonprofit organizations (NPOs) have developed vigorously amid China’s current social transformations and government reforms. Government-organized, public-interest foundations are a new and unique example among these NPOs. While their arrival has helped introduce NPOs’ social, public-interest characteristics to a broader segment of the public, this type of NPO is also largely a derivation of government system transformations. Viewed as a process of institutional change, we can see, in China’s reforms, characteristics of increasing returns and path dependence. Theories of institutional change and path dependence can therefore not only offer a systematic response to and analysis of public-interest foundations’ emergence and reforms; they can also offer helpful new directions for the healthy development and organizational improvement of China’s foundations.