Take a Cue From One of America’s Most Trusted Institutions: Businesses
Associations can learn from for-profit businesses
Institutional trust is at a low, but one type of entity is coming out ahead: business. Edelman’s 2021 Trust Barometer survey found that businesses are now the most trusted institution globally, with 61 percent of respondents backing them, a rate well above government (53 percent) and media (51 percent) and even outpacing nongovernmental organizations (57 percent).
The study found that people consider businesses to be both ethical and competent. (While NGOs were seen as more ethical, businesses were the only category of organization seen as competent by respondents.) Part of what’s driving this shift, per Edelman, is COVID-19, which significantly affected trust in the government and the media. While the start of the pandemic fostered trust in these organizations, that faded as the months wore on.
So what does this mean for associations, which often sit in a territory between businesses and NGOs in terms of the type of institution they represent? And how can we use the lessons on how the public regards businesses to help generate deeper trust in associations?
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