Participatory budgeting: next generation democracy

White Paper by the Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP): How innovative leaders are reaching more people, bridging community divides, & making government work.


In a time of rising civic disengagement, many city leaders are using an innovative tool to reconnect with the people they serve: Participatory budgeting, known as “PB.” PB is a democratic process that gives ordinary people direct control over a portion of a public budget. It empowers residents, engages them in finding solutions, and knits communities together. Leaders in more than 3,000 cities and municipalities have implemented PB, for three main reasons:

  • It’s Effective Leadership. The process motivates broad participation, and engages communities in finding solutions that respond to community needs. See page 2.
  • It’s Fair Leadership. PB engages a true cross-section of the community. More people get inspired and active, including those who often can’t or don’t participate, like youth. See page 10.
  • It’s Visionary Leadership. By supporting their communities to become more resilient and connected, officials who do PB build a legacy as bold and innovative leaders. See page 14.