The Edelman Trust Barometer 2018 has revealed that globally, average trust levels in NGOs have not risen over the past year, with declines seen in a number of European countries.


The Barometer surveyed people in 28 countries globally. While media has become the least trusted institution globally for the first time, trust in NGOs has remained static over the past year with 53 per cent of the general population saying they trust them.


However, there has been a 3% drop in trust among what the report called ‘the informed public’,* from 67% to 64%. And, on a country-by-country basis, there were declines in trust in half of the 28 countries surveyed. In Europe, Italy saw the biggest decline in trust of NGOs, falling 13% year on year, while Germany, the Netherlands, and France also saw trust levels decrease slightly, by 2%, 1%, and 2% respectively.


European countries where trust increased were Sweden, which saw levels rise by 13% (although still only 42% of people say they trust NGOs), Ireland (+3%), Poland (+6%), and Spain (+1%). NGOs are most trusted in Spain, by 61% (up from 47% in 2012), and Poland (54%).


In the report’s executive summary, Ben Boyd, Edelman's president of practices, sectors and intellectual property, says:

“NGOs have historically been trusted as a remedy for social ills left unaddressed by government. But when government is distrusted and media no longer is perceived to serve as its watchdog, both NGOs and business can fill the role of providing reliable information about—and solutions for—the issues that people care about. Our study began 18 years ago with a focus on NGO trust; today, business and NGOs are viewed equally as the institutions holding the most hope for our respondents."


The Barometer surveyed more than 33,000 people across 28 countries: 1,150 of the general population in each one, and 200 ‘informed public’ (500 in the US and China).


*Informed public are defined as those that meet four specific criteria: aged 25-64, college educated, in the top 25% of household income per age group in each country, and who report significant media consumption and engagement in business news. Fieldwork was conducted between 28 October and 20 November 2017.