15 Key Metrics for Evaluating Participatory Budgeting: A Toolkit for Evaluators and Implementers

Developed by Public Agenda and the Participatory Budgeting Project together with the North American Participatory Budgeting Research Board, and with generous funding from Democracy Fund.


Evaluation is a critical part of participatory budgeting (PB) in the U.S. and Canada. Systematic evaluations of PB processes are helping implementers, participants and other stakeholders better understand PB’s growth, reach and impacts in individual communities and across North America.

In this toolkit, we describe 15 indicators (“metrics”) that capture important elements of each PB process and the PB movement in North America overall. These metrics were developed with the goal of encouraging and supporting some common research goals across PB sites and, in turn, meaningfully informing local and national discussions about PB in the U.S. and Canada. The North American Research Board, Public Agenda (PA) and the Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP) drew on previous evaluations of PB in the U.S. and around the world, the academic literature on PB as a democratic innovation and the experience of local evaluators in the U.S. and Canada to develop these metrics.

This toolkit also includes a set of Key PB Metrics Research Instruments to support local evaluations and to facilitate the collection of data that address the key PB metrics. To create these instruments, Public Agenda and PBP adapted surveys originally developed and used by local evaluators in various PB sites across North America.

The Key PB Metrics Research Instruments are the following:
1. Idea Collection Participant Survey Template
2. Voter Survey Template
3. Questionnaire for Evaluators and Implementers

By sharing a common set of metrics and instruments, individual PB sites contribute collectively to a better understanding of PB as a whole. At the same time, these metrics and related research instruments should not distract from or diminish local evaluators’ capacity to pursue research questions that are most relevant to their local PB processes. While we hope local evaluators share our belief in the value of some common research objectives and will find these materials useful, we want to stress that these materials are only recommendations. Local evaluators may decide to adopt or not adopt all or part of them as best fits their goals and capacities.