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Italian Institutional Context Database

This case study has 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. 

This dataset contains information collected to find Brand Aid cases in Italy. As primary source the non-profit portal has been used. It would have been impossible to search through all official national and local nonprofit registries (over 3001) which were still in place at the time of research, when the single national registry (Registro Unico Nazionale del Terzo Settore) was not fully operational yet.

The international organizations found have been examined following similar criteria as for the USA cases. Their religious affiliation, roots or connotation has been recorded, along with their presence in the directory of Focsiv, an association of Christian international volunteering organizations.

Among the data on the campaigns, information on scope, cause, location of recipients, timespan and possible donations to the nonprofits has been recorded. Celebrity or celebrities involved (be them real or fictional) have also been reported.

Links have been provided to information sources. They were all valid at the time of collection (February to May 2019).


1 - last checked: March 2019

Database contributors:

Adriano Pedrana is a research assistant on the Commodifying Compassion project. He holds an MA in Communication for Development from Malmö University. His previous education and training inludes Applied Linguistics, Cultural Studies and Translation in Italy and France, as well as Journalism in Italy. In addition, Adriano has experience as a freelance journalist, videographer and exhibition manager with numerous media outlets.

Alexandra Cosima Budabin is Senior Researcher at the Institute for Minority Rights at Eurac
Research. She has been involved in and across the fields of education, advocacy, human rights,
humanitarianism, and conflict for two decades. Alex’s research centers on the everyday politics
of human rights, development, and humanitarianism specifically concerning the role and
leadership of transnational actors such as diasporas, celebrities, NGOs, and business. Her first
book Batman Saves the Congo: How Celebrities Disrupt the Politics of Development (2021), co-
authored with Lisa Ann Richey, examines the controversial role of the rich and famous in
development and humanitarianism and exposes the realities of neoliberal development.

Anna Salvatorini is a research assistant on the Commodifying Compassion project. Anna holds an MA in African Studies from the University of Copenhagen.

To cite this database:

Budabin, Alexandra; Lisa Ann Richey; Adriano Pedrana, 2023, "Commodifying Compassion: Italian Institutional Context Database",, Harvard Dataverse, V1

Related publications and presentations

The Institutional Context of Humanitarian Helping in Contemporary Italy

Pedrano, A., Richey, L. A. & Atal, M. R., 2021,

(CBDS Working Paper; Nr. 2021/2).

The institutional context of humanitarian helping in Italy is constituted by a moving constellation of relationships between the state, the church, and the nonprofit sector. As we see the changing institutional context for Italian nonprofits with decreasing public solidarity, negative discursive framing, and the need to diversify fund-raising channels, Italian businesses are being sought out for partnerships between profit and nonprofit actors (De Marchi and Martinez 2020). As in other donor countries, there has been a weakening of public trust in the traditional aid sector of Italian nonprofits combined with recently decreasing national funding for humanitarian helping abroad. These trends have led to an increasing need for nonprofits to pivot their fund-raising campaigns toward individuals and social networks such as Facebook (De Carli, 2019c). Today, the interface for “helping” brings together government legislation, state bodies, for-profit organizations, nonprofit organizations, the church, and individuals. To begin to understand the interface of humanitarian helping and the trends in Italy today, this working paper documents and explains the history of Italian cooperation for development and humanitarian helping. The next section will explore changes in perceptions of non-state helping and doing good. The third section will turn to government-based helping in contemporary Italy to understand the formal structures shaping humanitarianism and international development. The fourth section examines the institutional organization of the contemporary development cooperation system that links actors in helping interventions. Within this, we examine the public funding trends for development helping. Section five then examines the private funding available. Finally we conclude with some reflections on what this institutional context suggests for the mix of public and private helping abroad

Business, B-Corps and Buonisti: Understanding the Governance of Humanitarian Helping in Contemporary Italy

Richey, L. A., Pedrano, A. (2021)

In this presentation, Lisa Ann Richey presents "Business, B-Corps and Buonisti: Understanding the Governance of Humanitarian Helping in Contemporary Italy", done in collaboration with Adriano Pedrana. The study is the first English language survey of the national humanitarian context in Italy, examining the institutional framework in which individual ethical consumption and 'do-gooders' or 'buonisti' operate. We find that private actors play an important role within the Italian institutional setting, creating a fertile ground for brand aid style partnerships and other forms of commodifying compassion. 

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