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We are glad to present our Participatory Budgeting (PB) Online Manual to you! This online guide aims to support you in designing and implementing PB. It can be used by any interested person, be it administrative clerk, politician, policy maker, citizen or representative of an NGO.

In this guide we tackle the following topics and present our EmPaci project results, our project resources and other material. The structure is the following: 01 PB explained, 02 Citizen Needs Assessment, 03 PB Communication and Dissemination, 04 Technical tools for PB design, 05 PB pilots and 06 Training Manual.

Enjoy scrolling through our pages and learning!

If you want to connect and exchange with others on PB, please join our PBbase network on the right hand side. Also, there you find a database of material in the EmPaci project languages (English, Finnish, German, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish or Russian) when clicking on Orgware

Enjoy and kind regards from the EmPaci team!

Participatory Budgeting (PB) explained

Participatory Budgeting (PB) is the process of participation in which citizens are directly involved in the decision-making regarding the budget allocations of their local government or a district. It was first implemented in the 1980s in Porto Alegre/Brazil in particular to increase the transparency of the budget’s allocations and to cope with social inequalities and corruption. Since then, the concept of PB has been spread all around the globe and it has become a success story in terms of a public sector management innovations. Due to different starting conditions in each local government’s PB implementation, legal requirements but also due to experiences regarding successful PB processes, the original Port Alegre PB model has been adjusted several times. This even starts with the fact that there is no universal definition of PB.

Since “there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach”, each local government, which is willing to implement its own process, needs to consider different design possibilities and to make own decisions about how to design its own PB process. This, however, requires the implementers from the local governments to collect a plenty of information and to start “from scratch” with their processes.

PB Type Groups report

Toolbox to design an own PB process

Ideal Types of PB

Classification scheme of PB mostly in Europe

Factors for PB Success

Issues to be considered for the Ideal Types of PB

How to design a successful PB

Collection of 80 possible indicators to track, develop and evaluate PB processes

PB Blueprint: PB examples

Successful PB initiatives in the BSR and beyond.

Evaluation Scheme

Successful PB initiatives in the BSR and beyond

Additional materials

Find more resources with general information about PB

Citizen Needs Assessment

In order to integrate as many diverse citizen groups as possible into PB, it is of utmost importance to identify needs of different citizens’ groups before PB implementation. This can be realized for example by way of preparing and implementing a poll among the citizens. Academic studies and practitioners’ reports show that PB usually mobilizes a typical type of citizens (predominantly male, politically active, well-educated, 35-65 years old). As such, two important aspects of successful PB processes, i.e., representativeness and inclusiveness are limited. Hence it is necessary to figure out, what different citizen types expect from PB, how it should be designed and how they want to participate.

The EmPaci project partners have developed a citizens’ needs analysis, collecting the data through a survey of citizens in the project partnership countries – Germany, Finland, Latvia, Russia, Poland and Lithuania. This section presents the results of the needs analysis, as well as offers a practical tool to develop such poll in other countries. The information also includes the main principles underlying the questionnaire development to be applied by local administrators and citizen respondents.

The principles of designing questionnaire

How a survey should be designed

The logic behind the EmPaci project citizen survey

The structure of the EmPaci citizen survey

Questionnaire templates of citizen survey

Templates in English, Finnish, German, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish and Russian

Analysis of citizens’ needs in the Baltic Sea Region

Comparison of the needs of citizens across the EmPaci pilot municipalities

PB Communication and Dissemination

Communication and dissemination are essential parts of the PB process and should be strategically planned ahead. In the context of PB, the term communication means effectively disseminating targeted information for local audiences and acquiring the feedback. In this context, effectiveness means the use of awareness and interest in raising information content when targeting local citizens. Dissemination, in turn, means broadcasting key messages to the identified target groups without expecting the feedback. Prepared by an organizer, information on particular PB steps is sent out to and received by a target group for their awareness raising. Dissemination plays a crucial role in the transparency of PB, for instance, when a society is informed on the results of supported projects or the details of next PB steps.

Within PB, the main idea of communication is to show how a society can benefit from PB, starting from the promotion of potential benefits to multiple audiences and exchanging the information with engaged citizens throughout the cycle of PB. Dissemination usually covers project results only informing on how a society has distributed an available budget share and what are the impacts of participatory decision making. Dissemination also encourages society groups to use developed solutions.

This section reveals various aspects to be considered when setting and implementing the communication strategy of PB processes. The selection of study materials is presented here, however a complete Guideline of a Communication and Dissemination strategy can be found here.

Major Steps Within a Communication and Dissemination Strategy

Framework for achieving specific goals of PB

The Types of Communication

What needs to be integrated into PB communication

Stakeholder analysis (models)

Steps to identify and better approach stakeholders of the PB process

Establishing a strategic partnership

Practical steps and examples for creation

The design of the key messages

How to customize communication and dissemination messages

Visual identity

Examples of unique visual identities of PB

Communication Channels and Tools

Principles to be followed for selection


Aspects of internal, external and inter-institutional communication


Systematic collection of data during the PB implementation


Methods for data collection for PB evaluation

Additional materials

Technical tools for PB design

Modern civic participation, incl. participatory budgeting (PB) would not be fully possible without the digital softwares and systems that allow to gather citizens, engage them in debates, assess proposed solutions, as well as involve in project design and evaluation. The digital environment is beneficial in engaging much more stakeholders than the physical debates and voting could, and skill-ful optimisation of participatory processes would ensure the democratic effectiveness of decisions made. Dozens of various-level governments practice partly-gamified interactions with citizens as service users, service providers and decision-makers. Moreover, organisations and neighborhoods are overtaking online decision-making practices to engage members and foster their collaboration and sense of reponsibility. Special online platforms are design from scratch for community engagement. Others purchase ready to use platforms and adjust them, facilitating from user-frendliness and instant customer support. It allows to suggest, that civic participation and PB have become accessible as never before.

In regard to civic participation and specifically PB, this section composes the EmPaci project team’s analysi s of the PB solutions used across the Baltic Sea Region, as well as various articles and websites for own exploration on the topic of PB online platforms and digital engagement. Here you can learn about the various features of PB platforms, real case studies of PB implementation and get in touch with designers of relevant platforms. The external sources are used to complement the knowldge on PB, not limiting to experience of the Baltic Sea Region countries.

Feature Repository

Overview of functionalities for PB IT implementations.

Usability features of PB websites

Evaluation of 50 different cities for the fulfillment level of 47 IT design aspects

What is a Feature Matrix Tool?

Decision support to implement, compare or improve PB IT initiatives

Articles and materials for own exploration

Improve interactions with citizens with the customer journey tool

Validated reference architecture and method for PB tool selection

Options of a desirable eGovernment architecture

Best practice and experience reports

Analysis of 12 software solutions for PB

Consolidated set of tool patterns and success factors

Best practices and lessons learned from the EmPaci partners

PB pilots

The aim of this section is to portray PB experiences in each of the piloted municipalities of the EmPaci project. In eight municipalities or regions, PB has been piloted twice in two consecutive years (2020 and 2021), namely Bützow (Germany), Vidzeme Planning Region (Latvia), Rietavas and Telšiai (Lithuania), Bielsko-Biała (Poland), Moskovskaya Zastava, Moscow region of St. Petersburg and Suoyarvskoye Urban Settlement in the Republic of Karelia (Russia). In four municipalities, PB has been tested within one year without repetitions: Lahti and Riihimäki (Finland) as well as Gatchina Municipal District and Sverdlov Urban Settlement in the Leningrad Region (Russia).

To inform about the different approaches used by the pilot municipalities or regions, first of all a Status Quo Report aims to provide insights into the current state of citizen participation in general and PB in particular in each of the pilot places. This is followed by an overview of the local adaptations of the PB concepts: A table of municipal preconditions and the individual implementation of PB and the results of each PB cycle is shown. This aims to support other municipalities in selecting the specific PB design needed for their local circumstances. In order to inform about the specific implementation of the PB cycles, in each of piloted municipalities detailed descriptions of PB pilots in the first and second rounds are available for download. These documentations provide extensive information about how the PB processes were implemented, which barriers were tackled and what are tips and creative ideas for running PB with different ways of stakeholder involvement.

Status Quo Analysis: PB in the BSR

Reports of PB in the EmPaci pilot municipalities

Local adaptations: Clustering of municipal preconditions

Synopsis of the EmPaci PB pilots

Descriptions of PB pilots first and second round

Reports from each EmPaci pilot municipalities about PB implementation

Training Manual

To have a common ground and the understanding of PB processes and concepts, training on related topics has to take place before starting an action. An extensive few-days training or few smaller ones and more targeted training sessions for specific stakeholders (an implementation team, possibly engaging strategic partners) as a training activity depends on the scale of PB, implementers’ background, and the variety of key target groups. There are no particular rules in setting up a training activity except for being relevant to an audience trained, incl. relevant content, an applied language, and a format.

In this section you will find guidelines on how to organize a training on PB implementation for municipal and civic organisations. The guidelines will address both content-related advice and technical implementation suggestions. The Train-the-Trainer approach is proposed as an effective way for a training on PB internally within an organisation or across several organisations interested in PB partnerships. The experience of EmPaci project is presented as the set of examples to follow, including the curriculum proposed for the beginners in PB implementation.

How to organize trainings on PB implementation?

Guidelines for planning

Training budget

Expenses to be considered

Train-the-trainer approach

Structure to build up internal trainers

EmPaci Training Approach

Training materials and videos developed by the EmPaci partners

Finnish experience

T-t-T concept application in Lahti and Riihimäki municipalities

The EmPaci Learning Experience

Examples of trainings by the EmPaci partners