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Learn how to replenish trust: civil society guide to reversing the trust deficit coming soon

Come January 2024, we can expect another slew of reports from groups such as the Edelman Trust Barometer and Gallup detailing declining trust across American society. This growing trust deficit is a serious problem. It erodes a high-functioning pluralistic democracy, compromises vibrant public health and makes it impossible to solve collective problems like climate change. Trust in institutions is necessary to create and improve the social contracts that govern democracy and allow communities and the nation to strike sustainable civic bargains. Trust doesn’t just happen. It is earned person by person, moving through large segments of society. It is handed down and passed on. 

The next time one of these reports comes out, don’t despair. Take action. Civil society leaders have a unique position in society and can use their power to make trust a strength — rather than a weakness — for their organization and in society.

There are concrete steps civil society organizations can take to be part of the solution. With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Note: The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.), Spitfire went deep into the social sciences to learn what we know about earning and rebuilding trust. On Jan. 11, we will release a guide geared toward civil society leaders that offers insights and ideas for earning, rebuilding and maintaining trust. If you want a sneak peek of “Replenishing Trust: Civil Society’s Guide to Reversing the Trust Deficit” before it is released, email me at, and I will send it to you.

For civil society leaders to reverse the growing trust deficit and use social trust to bridge rather than divide society, leaders need to know the most effective ways to earn trust. Now is the time to act. Those who are pitting communities against each other and sowing misinformation are harnessing faster and fancier tools to do their worst. Organizations face a mix of challenges regarding trust: Some are manageable within an organization’s people and processes, while external factors make it hard to predict when trust might be put to the test.

The guide offers leaders ideas for how to earn high trust, including:

  • Ask: What is the spirit of trust you want your organization to embody, and who needs to trust you?
  • Assess: Where are you when it comes to being trusted?
  • Implement: 10 concrete ways to earn trust.
  • Rebuild: Mend broken trust. 
  • Ask and act: Keep trust top of mind.

Reflect: How would your work be different and more effective if you enjoyed greater trust among the people you work with, partner with and serve?

P.S., We are doing a Spitfire U on the guide on Jan. 11 at 1:00pm Eastern. Please join us. You can register here as space is limited.

This entry was posted on Monday, December 11, 2023 at 08:08 am and is filed under Communication planning, Spitfire culture and Trust. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.