How Participatory Budgeting Works

Participatory budgeting (PB) involves an annual cycle of meeting and voting. It becomes part of the broader budget decision-making process. PB changes the way government works.

Each city, school, or organization that does PB adapts it to their specific needs, but PB generally follows these steps:

Design the process

A steering committee, representative of the community, creates the rules in partnership with government officials to ensure the process is inclusive and meets local needs.


Brainstorm ideas

Through meetings and online tools, residents share and discuss ideas for projects.


Develop proposals

Volunteers, usually called budget delegates, develop the ideas into feasible proposals, which are then vetted by experts.



Residents vote to divide the available budget between the proposals. It’s a direct, democratic voice in their community’s future.


Fund winning projects

The government implements the winning projects, such as laptops in schools, Wi-Fi in public parks, or traffic safety improvements. The government and residents track and monitor implementation.

Improve the process and spread the word for next year!

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Check out our toolkits, guides, white papers, and digital tools that show how PB works and will help you make stronger communities with PB!