Why Prioritizing Community Trust Is Key

Here’s how one women’s organization in the Philippines is building trust and advancing sustainable initiatives within their community.


The pandemic has played a significant role in changing public perception and community trust of institutions in the Philippines. According to the 2021 Philippine Trust Index report , public trust in non-governmental organizations has increased the most across all sectors, jumping from 37% in 2019 to 70% in 2021. Key drivers for the increased trust in NGOs are the way these organizations:

  1. engage in real programs such as the provision of jobs and livelihood, health care, and educational assistance,
  2. clearly define advocacies, programs, and projects, and
  3. demonstrate unwavering support to their causes.

“Institutions that were able to use existing organizational structures and community connections to quickly adapt to changes are also the ones who saw increased public trust.” – 2021 Philippine Trust Index

The responsiveness of nonprofits and local organizations to community need, especially during the pandemic, has been a significant factor in building community trust.

Building strength and trust between communities and community-based organizations is a continuous process. Leaders play a significant role in ensuring that community issues are addressed, and that trust is built and maintained. The Crusher Women’s Movement Association is a great example of an organization that took the time to prioritize building trust with their community, while facing challenges, and created greater impact as a result.

The Crusher Women’s Movement Association

Based in a resettlement area in Crusher Bigte Norzagaray Bulacan, Philippines, the Crusher Women’s Movement Association, or CWMA, is a women’s organization formed in 2010 but recently reactivated. It has 70 members ranging from 21 to 63 years old, and the majority are homemakers without formal education or a source of stable income. These women and their families rely heavily on their husbands’ income while taking on part-time work and offering services, such as shoe and bag repair and sewing, to make ends meet.

Recognizing that they lack the knowledge and financial resources to improve their quality of living, CWMA wanted to enhance the skills and capacities of their members and other women in their community. With help from their long-time partner organization the Solidarity of Oppressed Filipino People Inc., or DAMPA-SOFP, they sought assistance from the Abot-Kamay Community Solidarity Fund and were awarded US$9,000 (PHP$500,000) to support this initiative.

Building community resilience

The main goal of this initiative was to build resilience through saving mechanisms, livelihood opportunities, and the implementation of food banks. To achieve this, CWMA members proposed a series of training and capacity-building activities facilitated by DAMPA-SOFP, aimed at strengthening their leadership, basic bookkeeping, cooperative development, and exploring income-earning opportunities through food banks. DAMPA-SOFP also ensured members were educated on their rights and reminded them of the important role they play in the community as women.

The establishment of a food bank for the community serves several purposes. First, the funds provide CWMA access to cheaper rates by purchasing commodities they need in bulk. With an initial savings of US$250 (PHP$13,000), the organization bought sacks of rice at wholesale price and then repackaged and sold them to their members and others in the community with a mark-up price of 10%.

According to DAMPA-SOFP, when buying rice in bulk, there are some extra kilos of rice to be expected. These extra kilos of rice serve as an emergency supply in times of crisis. These are periodically replaced when a new batch of rice is purchased.

The majority of the profit, about 80%, is allocated to profit-sharing among members, while the remainder of 20% is earmarked for emergency and disaster situations. That can include social benefits (for burial assistance or personal crisis), organizational savings, and management or mobilization allowance.

Aside from the food bank, CWMA also started its lending enterprise, which is open to both members and non-members. In a poor community, access to affordable loans is rare and often a lifeline. Typically, borrowers use the loans to alleviate the heavy cost of capital for their part-time jobs, buy necessities while waiting for their husbands’ salaries, or pay for the children’s tuition.

The association’s lending enterprise is designed similarly to the food bank, whereby loans are marked up by 10%. Half of the profit goes to a management allowance and the other half is to be shared by members. This unique model ensures that management and operating costs are covered while still supporting the members and community.

Maintaining community trust

This initiative has been successful, but there were also challenges. Even before it started, the organization was faced with controversies around leadership and disbursement of the funds. The issue started when some members thought the grant was going to be transferred directly to their President. This caused some members to lose confidence in CWMA leadership.

To resolve the situation, their partner organization, DAMPA-SOFP, focused on clear communication with the members to build back trust. They clarified the terms of the ACSF grant and emphasized that it would not be given to them in cash. At the same time, CWMA conducted an election to ensure its members had confidence in the leadership. Following these community trust-building measures, the current President was re-elected, and the process helped to settle doubts in the community.

Prioritizing trust creates greater impact

With a successful launch of the social enterprise and community trust-building initiatives, CWMA generated a return on its investment and accumulated profits of US$600 (PHP$32,000) and counting. Because of this, the members gladly told the ACSF team that they were expecting a merrier Christmas this year. The organization even had enough surplus to send mutual aid to their neighboring barangay, or village, that suffered heavily from flooding, making use of the emergency fund.

CWMA and its members took it upon themselves to uplift not only each other but others in the community as well. Currently, the group is planning to expand its membership and is looking into other accreditations to be able to access funds and services from the government and other funding entities.

Beyond income and developing financial skills, the members also expressed appreciation for the empowerment they feel in knowing and exerting their rights, as well as the confidence they’ve built to actively participate in improving living conditions within their community. These were the very same women who, up until recently, mostly kept to themselves. As Patria Antoni, CWMA President shared:

“As a woman, I am shy myself. But after finishing the activities for the first quarter, I think I am more confident in speaking. I also believe that it is important to learn something that I can also share with others in the community—and that this is an ongoing process.”

Read more community stories and learnings from the Assets, Agency & Trust Program.


Featured Photo: Abot-Kamay Community Solidarity Fund by Center for Disaster Preparedness Philippines (CDP) Note: The work delivered through Assets, Agency & Trust Program is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this post are the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

Get Free Tips + Tools in Your Inbox
Subscribe to get the best content from the Learn Library in your inbox once per month.
Meet Your New Fundraising Team
Join GlobalGiving for training and support tailored to you.

Looking for something specific?

Find exactly what you're looking for in our Learn Library by searching for specific words or phrases related to the content you need.

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.