Managing Relationships with Government Partners: Building Trust

Start with a good attitude: The first rule of working with government is to put cynicism about government and government officials aside. “You have to come in with the attitude that government can work,” said a grantmaker who has been part of many partnerships. “A lot of people seem to believe that government is really bad and bureaucrats are just bureaucrats. If you come in with that attitude, you’re not going to get very far.”

Make candor a habit. “Be candid,” advised another grantmaker, “it builds trust faster. I expect candor, and if I don’t get it, I assume I’m dealing with someone who doesn’t have a lot of power or is trying to give me the runaround. You can be candid in a respectful way that’s not prescriptive or directive, and that invites commentary. Use humor! It can be really effective in breaking down barriers quickly.”

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by Candid Learning for Funders using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Working with Government.