Commodification of Kindness

We recently came across a BBC News video that shares the story of a UK-based concept of digital currency created in the city of Hull. The digital currency rewards people for doing good, or for doing volunteer work in their community. The rewards are non-monetary payments that allow volunteers to shop at participating stores and businesses for a discounted price. People who volunteer don’t usually get rewarded in this way. The creator of this digital currency in Hull calls this a commodification of kindness rather than a payment for a service.

Watch the BBC Video here!

Grounded’s Strategy

Grounded has implemented a similar form of non-monetary currency in the CommunityCare Pilot Program. Starting in September 2016, we recruited, trained, and equipped residents of Homewood to perform maintenance activities on vacant lots and urban greenspace. We recognize the fact that many of our CommunityCare stewards experience barriers to participating in volunteer work. In order to alleviate these barriers, we provide non-monetary incentives that seek to meet the needs of our stewards. Some of our incentives include a portion of a utility bill payment, a weekly bus pass, and a meal delivery kit. Currently, we are working to continue the pilot program in Homewood and expand the program to Larimer.

Find an in-depth description of the CommunityCare Pilot Program here!


As the BBC video states, the whole point of charity work is that you don’t do it expecting anything in return. However, we believe that non-monetary forms of incentives can provide motivation and sustain long-term volunteer work. Being compensated for giving back engages those who might not have otherwise been involved in this type of work due to various barriers. Allowing all an equal opportunity to make their community a healthier environment is the goal we seek to accomplish through Grounded’s attempt at the commodification of kindness.


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