Less trust in NGOs

The 2018 Edelman Global Trust Barometer indicates that trust in the Australian not-for-profit sector is down from 52% in 2017 to 48% in 2018. (Note – the link provided here takes you to the Trust Barometer page on the Edelman website, where you can choose whether or not to download the 114 Mb file).

In my October 2017 post regarding Rachel Botsman’s book ‘Who can you trust?, the erosion of trust arising from the Panama Papers, Royal Commissions into child abuse and banking scandals, among other developments, were highlighted as contributing to a decline in trust of institutions.

To read some commentary on the Edelman Trust Barometer, you would think that we had reached an all-time low and that we were well down from historically high levels.  The chart below was developed using data on page 41 of the Edelman survey report, showing the results of surveys between 2012 and 2018.  As you will see, the level of trust in Australian NGOs is the same this year as it was in 2013.  Also, NGOs are still trusted more than the other three sectors covered in the survey, with government and media organisations closely tracking each other in most survey years.

Edelman Trust Barometer 2012_18

The recent news of regulatory action in response to CPA Australia, RSL NSW, and Oxfam International governance problems may be seen as part of the reason for the decline in trust of NGOs in Australia (and elsewhere).  Clearly, not-for-profit boards all need to consider what more they can do to enhance the community’s trust in their organisations and to ensure that they continue to enjoy their social license to operate.

Board briefings

If you would like to arrange a Board or Audit and Risk Committee briefing or discussion on the issues raised in this post, please contact me on 0419 347 599 or email me at garry.pearson@polgovpro.com.au