adhocracy+ is a German tech platform that makes participatory democracy easy and accessible. The platform makes it possible for municipal governments, universities, political parties, and civil society organizations to start digital participation projects. adhocracy+ can be used to, for example, gather citizen feedback on policy proposals, generate ideas for new policies and initiatives, and co-create strategies and plans with citizen input. The platform is designed to be easy to use, requiring no programming knowledge, installation, or updates. It is open-source, enabling innovation, collaboration, and transparency, which is especially important whenever software is used for political purposes. The use of adhocracy+ is free of charge and financed by individual donations as well as fees from add-on services. adhocracy+ is a project launched and supported by Liquid Democracy, a non-profit organization dedicated to making democratic processes more participatory, transparent, and equal through the development of open-source software.
Theory of Change
Free and easy-to-implement participatory policy making tools help facilitate greater citizen involvement in policy making processes, promote transparency, and strengthen trust in political institutions.
The adhocracy+ platform offers a wide range of functional modules that allow users to carry out participation projects. Modules include brainstorming, spatial brainstorming, idea challenges, spatial idea challenges, text review, polls, participatory budgeting, interactive events, prioritization, and debates. Participation modules can be combined and added to facilitate more complex participation processes. For participation projects intended for smaller, private groups, projects can be marked as private, with invitations to participate extended via personalized email links. In addition to the platform itself, adhocracy+ offers a suite of add-on services, which organizations can access for a fee. These services include trainings on the use of the platform, support packages that provide access to on-demand assistance from the adhocracy+ team, URL personalization, and data analytics. Once a month, adhocracy+ holds free, hour-long webinar workshops to educate users on the various functionalities of the adhocracy+ platform as well as on the general benefits of digital democracy. The adhocracy+ website also suggests use cases that are intended to serve as inspiration for project organizers. These use cases, ranging from developing mission statements to organizing innovation competitions, help demonstrate the platform’s usability as well as the potential application of participatory processes to a wide range of problems.
adhocracy+ has been utilized by over 300 organizations with 12,000 active users, helping to launch 700 participation projects. Many organizations utilize adhocracy+ on a repeat basis, running multiple participation projects at a time. Several cities in Germany, including Lindau, Puchheim, and Arnsberg, have utilized adhocracy+ to run participatory projects. One project by the city of Werder (Havel) sought to include the voices of children and young people in determining how the city’s budget should be used. The project leveraged adhocracy+’s participatory budgeting and prioritization modules to generate ideas for projects and initiatives that would benefit the city’s youth. In total, the project generated 38 proposals, which 1,787 students from city schools then voted on. The winning proposals included a graffiti wall at the youth center and an outdoor fitness park.