Trust and NGOs

My friend Olaf Brugman has invited me to take part in a workshop in Brussels on October 29th. It looks set to be an interesting gathering of Knowledge Managment gurus so I’m feeling quite chuffed to be speaking there. I’m going to talk about trust which I like doing – even though the more I write about it the fuzzier a topic I think it is!

One thing I like to empasise about trust is to think of it as something we do not just a nice warm feeling we’re all somehow entitled to feel. Too many debates on the topic have a “why oh why?” quality, bemoaning the disappearance of trust in society. There’s plenty of evidence that we don’t trust the media and institutions in the way we used to… but I think it’s not that trust has disappeared, it’s just that we make much more personal choices about how we invest it.

Lots of organisations try to create trust with reassuring image making, but I think that misses the point. The best way to create trust is to invest trust in others, to speak with integrity and beware of making empty promises that can’t be delivered. Sometimes we choose to trust others and get let down – but that to my mind is a price we have to pay to learn who to trust and in what context. It’s better not to think of trust as an anaeshetic to prevent pain; actually risking hurt is probably a pre-requisite for creating trust.

NGOs tend to come off best in surveys of institutions we trust, but I think that can be misleading – and certainly Olaf confirms that that kind of trust vanishes fast if an organisation lets people down.

1 thought on “Trust and NGOs

  1. Ton Zijlstra

    Hi John,

    I look forward to meeting you there! And I understand George Por will also attend, as well as Martin Roell. This will be an interesting gathering of people!

    Best regards,



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