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Which budget for a citizen consultation?

  • Friday, February 26, 2021

  • Blog cover image

    The budget of the citizen consultation is very difficult to estimate for the communities - as revealed by the Barometer of the digital local democracy of the think tank Décider ensemble*.

    How much does it cost to set up participatory processes in a community? What are the prices for an online citizen consultation platform? What services, functionalities, support, does the price of a service by a civic tech like Fluicity take into account?

    We answer you.

    1. How is the price calculated?
    2. Is it cheaper to develop a tool in-house or through an IT provider?
    3. Fluicity's advantage: support services included in the price
    4. 2 examples of budgets

    Qualitative survey conducted in 2019 among 300 local authorities of all sizes that have developed digital citizen participation initiatives.

    How is the price of the citizen consultation calculated?

    To predict the right budget for your citizen consultation processes, it is important to understand how the fees are set.

    There are several elements to consider.

    • The platform and the choice of the offer according to your needs**.

    The platform is of course the key tool of your approach. It centralizes participation, information, data, different functionalities, etc.

    At Fluicity, we offer 3 types of packages for our online participation platform: Essential / Advanced / Premium. These packages can be adapted according to the type of consultation you want to set up (one-off, long-term, participatory budget, survey, etc.), the level of customization you want (white label) and other functions and services you may need such as open data, identity verification, data analysis, etc.

    • The number of inhabitants in your community**.

    The size of the population is also crucial because it affects many factors: the number of computer servers needed to maintain the consultation data, the time spent on moderation, the work of analysis of the data at the end of the process, the communication budget, the possible support services for the citizens...

    Some services and functionalities will be more or less necessary depending on the size of your community.

    • The duration of the commitment to the platform

    Very simple: longer memberships may result in reduced rates.

    But then, how much does it cost in the end?_

    As you can see, there are many elements to consider. We can estimate the cost from 250 euros per month for small communes, to 1500 euros per month for larger territories.

    Is it cheaper to develop a tool internally or via an IT service provider?

    One might think that the expertise of civic tech and the acquisition of a SaaS (software as a service) would cost more. This is not the case.

    In-house developed participation platform

    "For local authorities that develop in-house tools, the cost rarely exceeds 5,000 euros," says the barometer of local digital democracy.

    Attractive indeed, except that :

    • "this does not take into account the human resource costs" (human time devoted to participation which, we shall see, can be quantified),
    • nor the cost of the possible advice of a firm specialized in participation to design its platform.

    The local authorities are left alone to design the digital tool - without any expertise on the consultation features or on the user experience - and to manage the process.

    The results: platforms that may be slightly less expensive, but not very well adapted. And additional support services to be invoiced.

    Participation platform developed by an IT service provider

    This lack of methodological expertise is also to be deplored for platforms developed by IT service providers, since the specification is left to the intuition of the communes.

    The price of these platforms is sometimes slightly more attractive than that of civic tech platforms, at several hundred euros. However, additional costs** will inevitably fill this gap, or even exceed it: site maintenance, server costs, updates, etc. These are elements that SaaS software includes in the initial price.

    For a city, a platform built by an IT service provider is even more expensive on average.

    Extract from the Barometer of Local Digital Democracy on citizen consultation rates](Capture-de_cran-2021-02-12-a_-15.43.51.png)

    Source: Barometer of digital local democracy, retrospective 2016 - 2019_

    Finally, let's add that IT service providers do not in any case provide advice on participation (framing, communication, analysis...), as Fluicity does. Here again, local authorities will have to obtain additional services from a consulting firm or rely on their limited knowledge of the subject.

    Fluicity's advantage: services included in the price of the platform

    Let's talk about the services and human resources that allow a participatory project to run smoothly. The barometer of digital local democracy reminds us of the importance of accounting for human time in its budget estimates.

    Number of FTEs needed to implement a digital participation system

    Extract from the barometer of local digital democracy on the human time needed to launch a citizen consultation, to be taken into account in its budget](Capture-de_cran-2021-02-11-a_-16.13.56.png)

    Source: Barometer of digital local democracy, retrospective 2016 - 2019

    According to the survey, launching a digital consultation platform requires an average of 1 full-time job (FTE) -which often gets caught up in a multitude of follow-up tasks, communication, coordination, etc.

    This launch is usually entrusted to a communication officer within a community. If we estimate his or her salary at 1,800 euros per month and a successful launch at 2 months, the human cost amounts to 3,600 euros (excluding charges) to implement the participation**.

    Estimated cost of launching the participation if it is entirely managed internally:_

    5,000 (platform) + €3,600 (FTE at launch, excluding expenses) = €8,600

    A very basic price that does not include consulting for the realization of the platform nor for the editorialization of consultations, framing, data analysis, animation and weekly moderation, etc. In short, it does not include any expertise in digital consulting.

    At Fluicity, we believe that this methodological expertise is precisely indispensable to succeed in citizen participation. This is why we include support and consultation framing services in our "Essential" offer.

    Other complementary services are added for the more advanced offers (data analysis, communication management, complete project coordination, etc.), and contribute directly to the success of your project.

    This support represents a significant gain in time, cost and quality. If it does not exclude the need to have a project manager on the side of the administrations, it allows to lighten his task and to transmit directly the good practices.

    2 examples of complete citizen consultation budgets

    • Montigny-le-bretonneux : 33 000 inhabitants
    • Types of consultation : secured survey for the elections of the district councils
    • Duration of engagement: 1 year
    • Budget: ≈ 12,000 euros, "Advanced" offer
    • Additional services Fluicity: reinforced pedagogical support (tutorial, email and phone exchange with citizens...), communication kit for election candidates (visuals for social networks, email examples for his network, etc.)

    "Adapting": a word that makes sense in Montigny! To maintain its neighborhood council elections despite the health constraints of Covid-19, the city decided to organize them entirely online. A first!

    The votes were done on the Fluicity platform, thanks to the "secure survey" feature. In two weeks, 3,48 % of the population registered and more than 800 votes were recorded.

    The city is already pursuing its participative approaches, as a call for ideas is planned within the framework of the land use planning for the 2024 Olympic Games.

    Discover the complete case study of Montigny-le-Bretonneux.

    Logo of the city of Bertrix](logobertrix.png)

    • Bertrix : 8 000 inhabitants
    • Type of consultation : Participatory budget
    • Duration of commitment: 3 years
    • Budget : ≈ 8 000 euros - "Essential" offer
    • Additional services from Fluicity: organization of the different stages of the participatory budget (from the launch to the announcement of the winning project), accompaniment of citizens, direct coordination with the mayor, communication campaign (Facebook ads: text, visuals, budget follow-up).

    Bertrix, a rural municipality with a low population density, conducted its first participatory budget with a masterful hand! In two months, 10% of the population joined the platform, 45 projects were proposed, finalists were aged 18 and 67... A real participatory and inter-generational success. Less than a year later, its second participatory budget is already underway.

    Discover the Bertrix participatory budget case study

    You want to estimate the budget of the citizen consultation in your municipality? Contact us to get a personalized quote!

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