Reference Work Entry

International Encyclopedia of Civil Society

pp 3-9


  • Alnoor EbrahimAffiliated withHarvard University


Calls for greater accountability in all sectors of society – public, private, and nonprofit – have become increasingly common over the last two decades. For the first time in 2007, a public relations survey known as the Edelman Trust Barometer recorded a decline in trust in nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), after six years of consistent increases (Edelman, 2007). NGOs are no doubt still widely trusted, but not in all places. The divide between the wealthy nations of the North and the poorer countries of the South is especially stark: While NGOs are most trusted in many Northern countries such as the United States, France, and Germany, businesses are more trusted in many rapidly growing economies such as Brazil, India, and Russia. While these findings are limited, they capture a wedge of public unease and uncertainty about NGOs, and about civil society organizations (CSOs) more broadly.

Over the past decade, regulators, funders, and civil society actors themse ...

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