Mission, Approach, and Values


The Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP) is a nonprofit organization that empowers people to decide together how to spend public money, primarily in the US and Canada. We create and support participatory budgeting processes that deepen democracy, build stronger communities, and make public budgets more equitable and effective.
Read more about our work in our annual reports

Theory of Change PBP_FINAL-4

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Our Approach

Building on decades of experience around the world, we understand participatory budgeting (PB) as a democratic process in which local people directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. We approach our work in three main ways:

We build real power over real money
We develop processes that let people make real decisions, moving beyond consultation. We facilitate grassroots democratic decision-making over:

  • The design of the budgeting process
  • What proposals go on the ballot
  • What gets funded

We transform democracy
We work to rebuild the relationship between government and the people. We change how government works and how people can engage in democracy, by crafting processes that:

  • Build individuals’ skills and knowledge, to develop new community leaders
  • Bring neighbors together across divides, to build stronger communities
  • Connect residents, experts, and officials, to make better decisions together

We address inequality
We recognize that many people face obstacles to participating in government, and we work to ensure that everyone has an equal voice, regardless of age, race, financial resources, or other issues. To level the playing field of participation and make public budgets work for everyone, we:

  • Prioritize engaging underrepresented groups, such as youth, people of color, and low-income people
  • Partner with local organizations that are already engaging marginalized communities
  • Provide people with the tools to make fair and equitable spending decisions


The following values guide our work externally in communities and internally in our organization:


We strive to bring people together across differences, and support them in learning from each other, forging new bonds, and working together to achieve shared goals.

Participatory Democracy

We believe in democracy by and for the people, in which community members are able to directly participate in making the decisions that affect their lives.


We focus on including those who face the greatest barriers to participation, distributing power and resources to where they are needed most, and reducing disparities between groups.


We strive to share information clearly, make decisions openly, and communicate courageously, to help people access information, understand decisions, and create a culture of accountability.


We seek to constantly improve our work by experimenting with new approaches and learning from successes and failures, in order to execute swiftly, develop our individual abilities, and advance our mission.