Participatory Budgeting

Participatory Budgeting

Similar to Deliberative Democracy, the aim of Participatory Budgeting (PB) is to get more people involved in governance and build trust. It also provides transparency, which is an important part of a healthy democracy.

The Participatory Budgeting process allows community members to decide how to spend part or all of a public budget. It gives people real power over real money. This may start as a community survey on what the priorities are for the community. 

Thousands of cities and institutions are experimenting with Participatory Budgeting.

The Next System Project detailed one project. In 2018, nearly 100,000 New York City residents allocated more than $36 million to 124 community projects in what the Participatory Budgeting Project calls “the largest local civic engagement program in the US,” with participants as young as 11 years old. Since 2012, $210 million has been allocated through PBNYC, which the Participatory Budgeting Project says has sparked an additional $180 million in spending through the traditional appropriation process. According to Michael Menser of Brooklyn College, women have been “overrepresented in every stage of the process” and “people of color and middle- to lower-income residents were better represented in PB than in the local elections.” New York residents can also locate and track projects in the city through the online myPB tool.


  • Jackson Free Press Article on how Jackson, Mississippi uses PB   
  • Next System Project article – Participatory budgeting democratizes public investment by giving people the power to decide how public dollars are spent – 
  • Hollie Russon Gilman of New America – Book on Participatory Democracy
  • Next System Podcast episode on PB
  • Making Democracy Fun book by Josh Lerner