Can We Trust NGOs?

YOU might not have heard of this unusual form of measurement, but the Edelman Trust Barometer has been tracking trust since 2001.

The responses for this annual survey are collected from 28 countries, which are then used to evaluate the public’s level of trust in governments, businesses, NGOs, and the media.

This year’s results were particularly alarming as they revealed a broad decline in trust across all sectors, exposing a general lack of faith in world leaders, institutions, and systems.

Developing Dependability

With a culture of distrust surrounding NGOs globally, there is an evident scepticism about India’s development sector in particular. This may be due to highly publicised scandals, a pervasive assumption of corruption, nepotism within organisational structures, financial mismanagement, a general lack of understanding of how NGOs operate, or the political rhetoric of anti-nationalism surrounding the sector.

As a result, authentic organisations struggle to build donor bases and gain meaningful partnerships as faith declines. Thus, the need for building a deeper public trust in the development sector.

Restoring Confidence

Most of us have probably participated in some sort of “trust-building” exercises during our school days or at a professional retreat, be it walking blindfolded through an obstacle course or falling into the hopefully waiting arms of a partner/group. These kinds of activities intend to instill confidence and build trust amongst participants.

So, how can India’s development sector harness this idea to restore its waning image?

Some ways NGOs can regain public faith would be to focus on attributes people find important:

  • Address actual, pressing societal needs
  • Listen, respect, and prioritize the knowledge and expertise of beneficiaries and stakeholders
  • Empower communities to be agents of their own change
  • Implement programming that has a positive impact on the local community as well as beneficiaries
  • Collaborate and partner with other reputable agencies to increase reach and impact
  • Stand up for your principles
  • Operate ethically and transparently
  • Be accountable
  • Create new jobs and opportunities within the local community
  • Treat employees, volunteers, donors, stakeholders, and beneficiaries equally well
  • Communicate frequently, spontaneously, and honestly
  • Tell stories of hope and progress while sharing the small wins that drive larger goals
  • Address any issues responsibly and openly

Trust Builders

There are a number of organisations working to help NGOs achieve these goals:

  • GuideStar India registers and certifies NGOs nationally by meticulously verifying and rating their legal and financial compliance.
  • Civil Society magazine reports credible news on issues, trends, and voices not heard in mainstream Indian media and spotlights leaders driving change.
  • Credibility Alliance promotes accountability and transparency within the sector by setting standards and best practices for governance and disclosure for voluntary organisations in India.
  • Small Change connects the public with the most highly accredited NGOs striving to change India and provides these agencies a platform on which they can find volunteers or launch a fundraising appeal while acting as a watchdog to ensure money raised is used to make a difference.

Find an NGO to support financially or with your time and skills or showcase the work that your NGO is doing to address the needs of your community here.

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2 thoughts on “Can We Trust NGOs?

  1. True. Trust is built on faith and credibility. You should not only be trustworthy but also be seen as being trustworthy.That demands some sort of internal brand building on ethics and values and raising the awareness among the philanthropic community about what you have done towards upliftment of society and giving back to society

    1. Very true. But there are also preconceived notions about NGOs being untrustworthy that we need to overcome. There are bad eggs in every sector, NGOs should not be singled out

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