Community Engagement Trends

What is Participatory Budgeting: Definition, Benefits, and Implementation

March 30, 2022
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Participatory Budgeting

 Map-based surveys have become a standard part of public engagement practices, but participatory budgeting is still relatively underused by communities. In this blogpost, you’ll learn what participatory budgeting is and how you can deploy it with online participatory tools.

Participatory Budgeting: A Definition

Let’s start with participatory budgeting definition:

Participatory budgeting is a process where the public directly decides on how a municipal or public budget is spent.

Participatory budgeting (or PB) falls under the decision-making type of community engagement and works exceptionally well for cities, local governments, and urban planners who want to give residents the tools and authority to influence urban environment and policy-making.

PB can range from very small and locally focused projects to extensive processes where the community is asked to weigh in on annual budget expenditure for the entire city. There is no set PB model that has to be followed, but each community can tailor it to fit their needs.

What are the Benefits of Participatory Budgeting?

There are numerous benefits that can be gained from participatory budgeting. It increases transparency in decision-making as residents are able to follow the trajectory of an initiative from the germ of an idea to the final product. Check these examples of participatory budgeting to know more about all the benefits that PB can bring to various communities.

Participatory Budgeting is not just participation, but co-production, and thus supports the process of fostering a real partnership between the community and its governing institutions.

PB can also reduce conflicts by giving the community a better understanding of the realities of budget-creation with its constraints and trade-offs, and by giving the government/council new insight into the real needs of their stakeholders.

To put it another way, participatory budgeting is an effective method of building cities for people through citizen participation.

How to Implement PB Projects with an Online Community Engagement Platform?

The two most recent PB projects implemented with Maptionnaire PB Solution exemplify the flexibility of the process.

The City of Espoo used PB for a micro-level project to solve a conflict about the planning of a suburban street with its residents.  Annika Kemppainen, Horticultural Designer at the City of Espoo, said that she was very happy with the results of the project. Complaints from residents ceased after we set up the participatory budgeting survey.”

Read more about Espoo using small-scale Participatory Budgeting.

The City of Lahti, on the other hand, piloted a city-wide PB process where the public was invited to share their ideas and vote on them. The project resulted in 33 winning proposals and was so successful that in its second year, the city has doubled the PB budget. 4% of the city’s population participated in #OmaLahti (#MyLahti), especially the younger residents and working-age adults.

Read more about Lahti implementing Maptionnaire for an annual city-wide PB process.

 Other community engagement platforms

  • Coding required
  • Pre-structured, inflexible process
  • Different phases of the project need to be split between different platforms
  • Content submitted by citizens is immediately visible – regardless of its quality
  • Ideas from citizens are difficult to edit into realistic proposals
  • Ideas cannot be merged or split

 Maptionnaire for Participatory Budgeting

  • You can start using the platform immediately
  • No coding skills required
  • Flexibility of the process enables Maptionnaire to be adapted to the needs of different organizations
  • You can run the entire process from start to finish on one platform
  • Combine maps with participatory budgeting
  • You exert full control on the content and visibility of ideas submitted by citizens
  • Ideas can always be edited, split, or merged

How Does Participatory Budgeting Work with Maptionnaire?

Although participatory budgeting can be an effective way of strengthening local democracy, the resources that such a project requires deter many organizations from even trying it. This is where Maptionnaire is trying to create change.

Based on discussions with our clients, we’ve spent the last year working on expanding our community engagement platform to allow you to realize participatory budgeting projects with the least stress. We’ve created a flexible PB solution that enables you to realize each step of the process without the need for coding. 

Maptionnaire's solution for participatory budgeting
The image is just one example of a participatory budgeting process flow you can implement using our tool. Maptionnaire is designed to be flexible, and therefore you can also create your process to fit your needs.

Takeaways: Why Consider Implementing Participatory Budgeting in Your Community?

Providing citizens with opportunities to make an impact on their community and surrounding is key to building more socially just societies. Participatory Budgeting is a process that helps you achieve these goals by

  1. Allowing people to influence the way their surroundings develop paves the way for more sustainable, liveable, and loveable cities;
  2. Including residents in the discussion, planning and decision-making;
  3. Improving communication between the residents and the government;
  4. Empowering the local community by implementing joint decision-making and management of their neighborhood;
  5. Cultivating trust, transparency, and financial accountability.

Dialogue and transparency are critical in going forward, and governing institutions need to be ready to change their practices to adapt to change. This is not an easy task, but at Maptionnaire we can provide you with the tools that are needed for implementing a successful participatory budgeting process.

Do you want to see how Maptionnaire’s solution for Participatory Budgeting looks like?

We’ll be happy to show you around our platform in a short demo meeting.
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