Our shared PACT: Trust

Our shared PACT

Trust: Investing in our core currency

“We need to move at the speed of trust” Civil society pioneers workshop

“Leave the people who you trust to actually make the decisions they know about” Penzance community workshop

Trust is the most important asset we have as civil society.  But trust is too often seen narrowly or undervalued. It’s considered important to win over a donor rather than something much more profound – the core currency of civil society.

Even more vital than money, trust is an essential foundation for everything we do. Relationships built on trust are very different to those that are not: embodying shared responsibility, shared ownership, collaboration and cooperation.  From women’s shelters to online communities to carers to international development, the real work that enables us to have genuine impact is the work of building trust.

We cannot take trust for granted.  Following abuse, financial mismanagement and the damagingly competitive pursuit of funds, alongside a wider trend of declining faith in institutions, trust in parts of civil society may be falling – the data varies, but it is an issue that has come up consistently through the course of this inquiry.

Not just public trust, but also mistrust between different parts of civil society that is so damaging. Many people have told us they feel large civil society organisations are slaves to their brand, bureaucratic, disconnected from their supporters and too close to government or corporations, who they fail to challenge as a consequence.

It’s time to restore and increase trust in civil society – enabling us to achieve even more – by valuing trust and continually investing in it.

We will each stay true to our values and do what’s right, however uncomfortable it may be, knowing it may mean being unpopular. We will be honest about our failures and successes and learn from them, acknowledging others, sharing bravely and openly.

We will defend rights and call out injustice. Civil society is political: we will challenge those in power – even if they fund us – and work with others to fundamentally change systems of inequality and powerlessness.  We will also stand in solidarity with others who do this, actively speaking up even when their actions are unpopular.

We will prioritise building trust with the people and communities we work with. We will devote time and other resources to relationships, taking the time, commitment and care that’s really needed.  We will find ways to measure trust and reflect it in how we evaluate success.

We will trust people, communities and other civil society groups to provide insights, make decisions and run things  – recognising that they often know best about what they need and what can be done.  We will live this out in the way we work and the decisions we make, both the big and the everyday.


The future could include…

Every process includes time for dialogue and getting to know each other…

Communities trusted to make decisions, own and control assets such as land and housing and permanently endowed local funds…  

National groups have a genuine and deeply rooted presence at local level…  

An end to the Lobbying Act because we must be free to speak out on political issues – but a refusal to let it stand in our way in the meantime…  

Shared measurement and understanding of trust…

Year zero funding for projects, including significant time to build trust and relationships between people…   

Funding made available for the disobedient who challenge systems, trusting and rewarding them to do more…  

Funding entrusted to people even if they are not connected to an organisation…

Explore 92 ways to put the PACT into practice »

Full worksheet: how to put the PACT into practice »


Stories of investing in trust:

Hand raised silhouetted against a sky

92 ways to put the PACT into practice

17th December 2018

Did you see the Civil Society Futures PACT and wonder “what can I do now?” Here are some suggestions for things you could do or ask your organisation.

Polish Centre Shrewsbury

Promoting understanding… but uncertainty about the country we call ‘home’

17th December 2018

In all we do at the Polish Centre Shrewsbury, we believe that understanding our neighbours is a key to build better communities. But now with shadow of Brexit there is uncertainty about our own future in country which we called ‘home’.

Featured Video Play Icon

The Food Journey

20th November 2018

At our final launch event, performers took people on a journey through their food history – exploring issues of power, accountability, connection and trust through different senses.

Featured Video Play Icon

“We are here”: art to bring the PACT to life

18th November 2018

Artist Rebecca Strickson has created a response to the civil society PACT through four beautiful banners that bring it, and people’s voices, to life.

Featured Video Play Icon

Befriending in Mansfield – A new way to look at community

14th November 2018

Over the past four months, people from across the local community have been coming together to create a Befriending Service for Mansfield.

Featured Video Play Icon

Alone but not alone

4th November 2018

Alone and a very, very long way from home – how is this local community group in South Shields welcoming refugees and asylum seekers?

Featured Video Play Icon

From litter to better

1st November 2018

“Am I going to let the world go to rack and ruin or am I going to change things around me?” What is this residents association in Sunderland doing?

Featured Video Play Icon

Belfast is welcoming refugees with a radical new approach: speaking to them

11th October 2018

We’re having different conversations about immigration, race and community. They are successful, and fun, and they could change the world.

Access and civic activism

30th August 2018

One of the common civic actions is to take part in events and discussions. How often is it incumbent for the disabled participant to ensure that his/her/their participation is possible?

Civil society for fun

22nd August 2018

It is important that we manage to retain the balance between civil society in response to need, and civil society for fun: civil society is not only good for society, but also good for the people who take part.



18th November 2018