Participatory Budgeting

Participatory Budgeting is an approach by which community members can decide how to spend part of a public budget. Through this method, the public can make proposals and vote for the proposals they agree with. Participatory budgeting process can be launched on an online platform, which allows eligible individuals to participate remotely. In order to verify the eligibility of the participants, identity authentication is usually needed.

Basic Information on the Method
Mode of communication
Group size
31 and more
Geographical scale
Public space, Neighbourhood
Skills required
Basic, Average, Advanced
Resources needed
Level of Involvement
Level of involvement
Consult, Involve, Collaborate, Empower
Type of knowledge enabled
Additional Criteria
Planning phase
Initiatiion, Planning & Design
Methodological approach
Expressive, Organisational, Political

How to use the method

Participatory Budgeting can be an annual cycle act that integrated into regular budgeting process or a one-time act, and it is usually operated following these steps:

  1. Preparation - mobilize communities and sectors
  2. Processes design - Select a steering committee representing the community to create rules, priorities, criteria, engagement plans, and methodologies. Committee should be composed of community representatives of residents, relevant experts, and city officials.
  3. Call for ideas - Citizens share and discuss ideas for projects through meetings or online tools.
  4. Develop proposals - Volunteer “budget delegates” develop the ideas into feasible proposal.
  5. Investigation and evaluation - Experts and representatives investigate the proposal sites, and give evaluation based on the designated priorities and criteria.
  6. Citizens and representatives vote on the proposals
  7. Government/institution funds winning proposal, and allocates resources
  8. Implementation of selected project(s)

What are the outcomes

  • Selecting and implementing desired projects selected by citizens
  • Building a stronger colaborative relationship between government, residents and community
  • Increasing the transparency of budgeting process
  • A better resources allocation that satisfy more citizens

Skills required

Skills required form participants: basic, average, advanced

  • Depending on which role and which phase a participant is in, participating in Participatory Budgeting requires different skills from him/her.
  • For those who participate in the proposal development phase, basic knowledge of policy and finance is needed.

Resources needed

Resources: high

  • Experts to evaluate the realisability of different proposal objectively and fairly
  • Administrative and financial support for the annually continuously functioning committee
  • A platform that allows the public to submit and vote for proposals

Strengths and weaknesses

  • Transparency between citizens and communities
  • Tend to allocate more resources to low-income districts, and increase equability
  • Increases public learning and promotes active citizenship[1]


  • Increased potential for competition among civil society organisations
  • Government holds the final right of decision-making
  • Experts and government representatives can manipulate the process in the investigation and evaluation phase
  • Participants have reduced role in implementation phase of planning
  • Lack of long-term planning. Many participants are interested in short- or medium-term public works projects, which makes it difficult to generate discussion on planning for the future

Use cases


Helsinki city has allocated an annual sum of around 4.4 million euros for implementation of ideas proposed by the citizens through Participatory Budgeting. Proposals can be provided by anyone, notwithstanding age or place of residence. The first proposal stage was at the end of 2018 and it resulted in as many as 1,261 proposals. They were developed into 369 plans during the joint development phase, in which the authors and city experts participated. [2] The city is responsible for the realisation of the most voted proposals.


The participatory budget in Paris is the largest ever implemented in the world.  The first cycle of PB was introduced as soon as Ms. Hidalgo came into office in 2014 and, as a result, ran with a relatively small budget and only allowed citizens to vote on project proposals submitted by City Council. Parisians, however, were keen to participate: total number of voters exceeded 40,000, the pilot project was deemed a success and the process became a city-wide institution now offering more ways for Parisians to get involved in the allocation of public funds.

Try one of these tools & resources

  1. [1] Shah, A. (Ed.). (2007). Participatory budgeting. World Bank Publications.
  2. [2] Rask, M., Ertiö, T. P., Tuominen, P., & Ahonen, V. L. (2021). Final evaluation of the City of Helsinki’s participatory budgeting: OmaStadi 2018–2020.
  3. Cabannes, Y. (2004). Participatory budgeting: a significant contribution to participatory democracy. Environment and urbanization, 16(1), 27-46.
  4. de Sousa Santos, B. (1998). Participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre: toward a redistributive democracy. Politics & society, 26(4), 461-510.