The role of strategic communication in driving trust for NFPs

The government and media are in a cycle of distrust, and are viewed as a dividing force in our society, with Edelman’s 2022 Trust Barometer revealing that consumer trust in the institutions is lowering each year. Businesses and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are increasingly trusted by consumers,  with NGOs viewed as a unifying force. This can be used to an NFP’s advantage, as people want to hear from them as a believable source.

If you’re an NFP leader here are four key ways to build trust with your target audience.


1. Allow your audience to get to know the experts behind your organisation

Allowing people to get to know the faces behind your organisation will help build trust. Staff are experts in their fields, and leveraging their expertise and allowing them to communicate publicly will help humanise your organisation and drive credibility.

This could involve:

  • Providing industry and staff updates through email marketing, sending digestible information out to the community of donors and corporate partners.
  • Running Q&A sessions on social media accounts, using posts, stories, or live videos to communicate your organisation’s expertise in a credible way.
  • Pitching staff as go-to industry experts that can provide commentary on the situation. This can publicise an organisation to the broader community and position members of the organisation as experts in the field.


2. Communicate transparently with your community 

Transparency is key to building trust in the NFP sector. From communicating how your organisation is utilising financial contributions, to openly sharing human-led impact stories, it’s beneficial to make sure your audience feels involved and connected.

NFPs shouldn’t underestimate the role sharing feel-good, outcome-driven stories plays in driving trust. As well as tapping into emotional appeals, it’s also important to recognise the role of sharing your unique competitive difference and return on investment.

It’s important to showcase the good your organisation is doing, and open up the doors to show them the process that is driving outcomes. 


3. Keep communication channels open 

Communication channels should be developed with the user in mind, and allow your audience to easily connect with you.

Channels like websites, email marketing and social media pages should be accessible. Having accessible front-facing touchpoints communicates that the organisation understands its responsibilities, is well-connected with its community, and welcomes all. Your communication channels should be monitored daily so that your community feels prioritised and listened to.

Platforms should invite your community to ask questions and raise any concerns that they have. This way, the organisation has the ability to control the narrative, communicate good work proactively, and be seen to be responding to feedback.

Keeping communication channels open is key to starting two-way communication, which is a key driver of trust.


4. Tailor your communication to your audience to enhance engagement

To build trust, it’s important you are active on the channels your audience is using, and you communicate your messages in ways that will resonate with them.

From low-cost digital platforms like a website, social media or email marketing, to traditional assets like flyers and posters, it’s important to find out which platforms they turn to. Knowing the communication channels your target audience uses is the first step to starting to build a relationship with them.

Tailored communication is about basing your communication efforts around your audience, and this can involve drawing on supporting voices that you know they trust.

For example, Generation Z regards an expert voice highly, scientists, doctors and educatorsthose highly involved in the organisation, and frequent users of the product and service. These experts can build credibility by providing statistics behind the organisation’s methodologies, as well as leveraging the voices of people who have a story to tell about their experience with the organisation. Gen Z gets their news on social media and podcasts and enjoys being communicated with frequently, via digital channels like social platforms or text messages.

Contrarily, Generation X has high trust in word of mouth, their loved ones, co-workers, or people who feel related to them in some way. Employing an ambassador or influencer that accurately represents the target audience as a spokesperson instils trust amongst this demographic. Gen X is low on time, so communication must be efficient and serve a purpose. Gen X like being communicated to via communities on social media, like Facebook groups, phone calls or email.

Leveraging these voices and platforms to communicate the key messages can help build trust between the organisation and the public.

If you need help with strategic communications planning, media outreach, government engagement, or crisis management, Fifty Acres can help. We have award-winning expertise and experience in helping not for profits and community-based organisations to tell their stories. We care about what we do, and we do extraordinary things. Get in touch today at or

Want to learn more or say hello?