Collaborative budgeting and funding is not a new practice. Its original application was in the field of civic engagement, to tap into the collective intelligence of local citizens to decide how to allocate municipal funds. The first documented participatory budgeting took place in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 1989, to give citizens a stronger voice in political decision making.
To cope and thrive in today's rapidly changing environment, many organizations today want to become more self-managed, participatory and human-centered. While these new practices are becoming increasingly refined and established, applying these principles to decisions around money and resource management is still a struggle for most organizations. Yet when done well, this practice can be a very powerful starting point for creating more engagement, participation, agility and transparency in any organization.
Budget governance is an essential pillar part of running an organization. By giving stakeholders, employees or members insight and control over the whole or a proportion of the treasury of an organization, you are enabling them to deeply care about the health of that treasury and of the organization.
The reasons for doing collaborative funding are manifold, but here are some common objectives:
To run participatory internal innovation programs and call-for-proposals
To catalyze employee or member engagement by enabling them to propose projects and allocate resources to them
To create more participation and transparency in their financial and budgeting processes.
Cobudget was originally developed by members of the Enspiral Network for their collaborative budgeting processes. With the help of Cobudget, the 5 step process described in this guide can be run easily, but you can also use a simple spreadsheet or any other collaborative decision-making tool.