How to start a participatory budgeting process in your community

Successfully campaigning for participatory budgeting (PB) requires a variety of tactics and perseverance, and anyone can take the first step. Often, elected officials or government staff with control over a public budget, community organizers looking to create change, and members of school communities begin the work of getting PB started.

When you're ready to get started, consider working with us as advisers, designers, or implementers to make the best PB process possible!

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If you’re an official or staff member interested in starting PB, check out our PB Scoping Toolkit.

If you’re a student, educator, school principal, or a family member of a student, check out our Guide to PB in Schools.

If you’re a community organizer, check out our Organizing for PB Toolkit.

1. Learn about PB.

We suggest first watching our four minute introduction to PB video, and then checking out some of our other videos and materials about what PB is and how it works.

2. Connect with existing organizing efforts.

Cities all across the US, Canada and the globe are already working bring PB to neighborhoods and schools. Cities with existing PB processes, like New York City and Chicago, are expanding and deepening their processes. Take a look at the "Participate in PB" page on our website to see if you could support organizing efforts in your area.

3. Get resources when you need them.

Based on years of planning, designing, and implementing PB, our team at PBP has developed materials and resources to support your work starting PB, including:

  • Implementation Manual - The answers to your questions about how to run your PB process well are available in our Implementation Manual "Running a PB Process From Start to Finish - A How To Manual". It's an excellent document designed to be read in any order - with plenty of tools, templates, timelines, and tips.
  • North American PB Network -- The PB Network consists of cities and institutions who are implementing PB in North America and who seek to improve their work through peer-to-peer learning and collaboration.
  • PB Resource Center -- This resource center contains a variety of tools and guides, and is designed to help YOU reinvent democracy.
  • Digital Tools -- The Participation Lab at PBP continues to test and develop digital tools related to PB.
  • Technical Assistance -- If your city or school is seeking an experienced team to support your implementation of Participatory Budgeting, please feel free to reach out to learn more about services PBP offers to directly help you launch and run your process.

4. Identify and Contact Your Local Elected Officials. 

Successful campaigns to start PB with public budgets require support from elected officials who control money. And the best way to get them on your side is to speak with them directly.

Try to set up a meeting with your representative, and contact us if you need support!

Click here to contact local elected officials in your city and county.

Try to set up a meeting right off the bat, and feel free to contact us if you need support!