Challenge 3: Trust


Trust issues will always surface when engaging with partners in shared activities, whether they are familiar partners or unknown stakeholders. It is not surprising that people are sceptical when deciding to commit funds to a certain project, or to get engaged with partners that they have perhaps not yet worked with in the past. How do you know whom to trust or how do you know if the funds will be used for the intended purposes when living abroad? Asking some critical questions can help to address these uncertainties.

Have a look at the inspiration below on how you can improve trust relations. Try to answer the questions for yourself and determine to what extent you feel you offer a sense of trust to your partners and beneficiaries.


Would you trust yourself if, as an outsider, you had full insight into the internal affairs of your organization or project?


How do you communicate with stakeholders or beneficiary communities? Do you keep them well informed?
Are you easily accessible to them, or are they often told to 'call back another time'?
Is the communication a fruitful and pleasant exchange?

Listen first

Do you listen to the messages of your partners or beneficiaries?
Have you created channels for getting their messages and the time to deal with them?
Do you repond and take action to what you have heard?


Is it clear what you do, why, with whom, and to what effect?
Are all financial flows transparent?

Practice accountability

Do you give your partners and the beneficiaries the opportunity to discuss what you are doing?
Do you report clearly on past activities and future plans?


Do you ask for suggestions? Do you follow advice - or explain why you do not?


Do you speak negatively about your partners or beneficiaries when talking to third parties?


Do you deliver what you promised?

Confront reality

Do you reflect on your own activities and actions as they really are or as you would like them to be?

Clarify expectations

Do you only promise what you can keep?
Are you clear about what can be expected from you - and what not?

Extend trust

Trust creates trust (and suspicion creates suspicion)
In which way do you show you trust your partners and/or beneficiaries?
Do they know that you trust them? Or the reasons why you do not?

Inspiring project

Agricultural Youth Training Centre

Keeping informed
Because of the great distance between management and implementation of the project, the organization needed to establish a sound trust relation with their local partner. As they themselves were not able to monitor the project, they had to rely on the goodwill and judgement of their partners in Sierra Leone. Although challenging, they established monthly updates in which they requested written updates, photographs and reports to stay on top of the project. This required a strong sense of trust in the partners' engagement and commitment.