Doing participatory budgeting (PB) sparks a variety of powerful, lasting impacts across a community.

Increased civic engagement.

  • Folks learn democracy by doing it.
  • PB is a gateway to more civic engagement that creates paths to lifelong civic engagement.
  • Participants see the tangible results of investing in their community, often inspiring them to become more involved.
  • PB increases engagement in elections, making people 7% more likely to vote.

Stronger relationships between residents, government, and community organizations.

  • PB leads to more collaboration between people and government.
  • Participants meet and work directly with elected officials, agency and institution staff, other parts of city government.

Broader political participation, especially from historically marginalized communities.

  • PB is open and accessible to people who have faced historical barriers to participation and voting. This includes young people, formerly incarcerated people, recent immigrants, and others.
  • PBP’s model of PB includes adequate resources to reach deeply into communities to ensure that everyone is able to participate.

New community leaders.

  • There are many opportunities for leadership in PB, from joining the Steering Committee to being a facilitator or Budget Delegate.
  • Participants gain valuable skills including public speaking, negotiation, facilitation, (etc).
  • Youth participants especially gain confidence, communication skills, and leadership.

More equitable and effective spending.

  • Public funding is more responsive to expressed public needs.
  • Decision-making is directly by residents, rather than by a small number of officials or “squeaky wheels”.
  • Residents offer innovative spending ideas.
  • Often ideas proposed for PB (that don’t get funded) are cues for officials that there is a need there, and often some of these projects get funded outside of PB.