Involve UK is a public participation charity founded in 2003 that works with government, civil society, academics, and the public to support and enhance democratic processes by putting people into the heart of political decision making. In 2020, Involve released its 2020 and onward strategy that aims to create healthier democracies through six major objectives: 1) establishing participation and deliberation as a democratic norm; 2) gaining political support for participatory and deliberative decision making; 3) making the use of such processes frequent inside and outside of political institutions; 4) using and building on evidence that demonstrates the impact of this vision; 5) defining standards and principles to support good practice in participatory and deliberative processes; and 6) continuing to learn and innovate on democracy and democratic practices. In addition to these objectives, Involve is driven by and committed to conducting this work in line with its core values: collaboration, equality, independence, purpose, and quality.
To realize these objectives, the organization focuses on supporting stakeholders in three primary areas: 1) making the case for the importance of participation and deliberation in healthy democracies; 2) embedding change through building capacity for democratic dialogue and practices with public; and 3) pioneering practice by encouraging the uptake of dialogue and deliberation processes.
Involve has also made its resource library, the Knowledge Base publicly available. This database is home to a wide breadth of resources, including basic definitions of dialogue and deliberation terminology and guides that walk through the processes and stages of programming; checklists and flow charts that help organizers put together a participatory dialogue event; and literature which discusses the impacts, outcomes, and qualities of Dialogue & Deliberation.
Involve’s funding sources and amounts are posted on their website for transparency.
How to Use
The Knowledge Base is a compilation of resources developed by Involve and others participating actively in Dialogue & Deliberation, as well as deliberative democracy more generally. For those new to public deliberation and civic engagement in general, the explanations of the terminology, jargon, and processes can provide the necessary background information to enter the Dialogue & Deliberation space. Their guidance on developing and designing participatory processes can be informative for new organizers because it provides information on defining scope, purpose, identifying participants, and conducting evaluations and reviews of the process. The Knowledge Base also has several guides and training documents for building out facilitation skills, evaluating programs, and for engaging in virtual contexts.
In addition to these basic guides and checklists, the Knowledge Base includes literature and reports that can provide a deeper context into the practice of Dialogue & Deliberation, public participation, and inclusive decision making. For example, one subsection of resources focuses on the qualities of good participatory processes and includes links to reports by the International Association for Public Participation and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, that describe the two organization’s core values for public participation and principles for open and inclusive decision making. Involve also has a subsection in the Knowledge Base devoted to common myths about public participation, which can be useful for those who are uncertain about the benefits or value of public participation and for organizers to review for talking points when working with skeptics. Involve has developed resources for users that provide the basic practical information for community guidance and engagement.
Users can take advantage of the Knowledge Base for a variety of reasons, including for gathering basic information about the principles and how-tos of public participation or using the resources to design more fulfilling, robust, and inclusive programming. Materials on the site can also aid in program management and organization or ensure that key stages and considerations are not overlooked.