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Commodifying Compassion
Case Studies

As part of the "Commodifying Compassion: Implications of Turning People and Humanitarian Causes into Marketable Things" research project (2017-2023), funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research and led by Professor Lisa Ann Richey, the project team analyzed a series of humanitarian partnerships between government agencies, not-for-profit humanitarian organizations and for-profit corporations centered around commitments to donate proceeds of product sales to social causes.


Background databases on the proliferation of this type of partnership were compiled for three donor country contexts - the US, Denmark and Italy - as part of this research. This deposit contains the institutional data for United States which has informed one of the project's publications in process. This work was supported by Samfund og Erhverv, Det Frie Forskningsråd [6109-00158]. Support from the Danish Council for Independent Research for the project Commodifying Compassion (Richey, PI 6109-00158B). (2018-10) (2019-8-6) (2022-04)


Find the publicly available data and studies of each case below.

Italian Case Study

This case study explored the growing privatization of Italian context of humanitarian helping. Through the study of the legislative frameworks surrounding humanitarianism in the country as well as through studies into the operations and campaigns of individual nonprofits the case shows that the institutional context grants fertile ground for brand aid–style partnerships and other forms of commodifying compassion

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Danish Case Study

This case study explored the institutional framework of Danish contemporary aid. The case study shows how the Danish Government has encouraged civil society to engage in joint ventures with the business sector and describe a spectrum of humanitarian and development initiatives with private business. Together these trends and initiatives have resulted in a Danish institutional framework that, we find, strongly supports and promotes the involvement of business in the development sector. 

US Case Study

This case study explored the privatization of US development aid from the 1970s until 2021 through a case study of the USAID. A database on the privatization of USAID was constructed and used as the basis of the study.

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