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Independent human rights organization Civil Rights Defenders sought to increase funding from American donors. With Business Sweden’s help, the organization was successfully introduced to and increased its understanding of the philanthropy markets in New York and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Human rights organization Civil Rights Defenders is non-profit aiming to defend civil and political rights while also supporting human rights defenders at risk. Civil Rights Defenders continuously monitors governmental bodies, informs people about their rights and influences decision-makers to bring attention to basic human rights concerns. The non-profit also empowers local activists through knowledge-sharing, training and support.

Civil Rights Defenders was founded over 30 years ago at the Helsinki Accords as the Swedish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights. They are now focusing on increasing their understanding of the large philanthropy markets in the U.S., specifically in the San Francisco Bay Area and in New York.
Business Sweden played an integral role in this process, supporting Civil Rights Defenders through market research as well as the mapping of and introduction to relevant philanthropists and donors, both private and corporate, in the specified geographic areas.

Business Sweden sought to research the philanthropy market while targeting the companies, organizations and donors in these areas. Furthermore, Business Sweden examined what the typical funding process looked like and which key companies Civil Rights Defenders should meet with to gain a better understanding of the market.


“Our team was able to identify the relevant foundations and stakeholders of high potential for Civil Rights Defenders, and then open doors to these key donors in what is a very competitive landscape,” says James Armstrong, Consultant at Business Sweden. “We also managed to investigate different entry options that our client had not yet considered, and connected them with potential partners.”

Following the background research, Business Sweden put together a visiting program with multiple players – including the Rockefeller Brother’s Fund and the Cisco Foundation – for Civil Rights Defenders to meet.

”I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of Business Sweden’s study, most of all because it was so hands-on with a great overall analysis,” says Hampus Stenberg, Director of Communications and International Relations at Civil Rights Defenders. “Business Sweden managed to go in-depth into certain relevant areas and provided very concrete output with the meeting program.”


Business Sweden found that the physical presence of Civil Rights Defenders will play a crucial role for increasing awareness and expanding their network. By using its extensive network and thorough research, Business Sweden could present hands-on guidance for which companies and organizations Civil Rights Defenders should target, how and where to target them and a structured schedule for the actual meetings.

“Other than exploring the philanthropist- and donor market, we were also looking at various types of tech partnerships for our innovations. Business Sweden helped us in both areas, which has enabled us to establish good contacts in San Francisco,” says Hampus Stenberg. “Thanks to this, we now have a desk in Palo Alto where we work continuously.”

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James Armstrong

Project Manager Chicago Project Manager, Chicago
+1 312 781 6223