How to start working with the City Hall (in a smaller city)

Way developed as a result of an expert workshop carried out with the participation of representatives/s of city halls from all over Poland.

STEP 1: A visit to the mayor

Starting a relationship with the office in a smaller locality is possible through direct contact with the city manager. You can come to such a meeting with a specific proposal for action or with a strategy for the development of the organization - but with a strong focus on the role of the office in all activities and an indication of the benefits offered to the city. You should prepare well for such a meeting - you can make a good first impression only this once! It is important that the person representing the organization shows full professionalism, understanding of the city's priorities, and is ready for constructive criticism and the search for compromise. It is also important to present your idea in a coherent, essentialized way, focusing on the tangible values offered to the city. A major value of the offer will be to indicate the prospects for its sustainability: how it can steadily grow, become financially independent and reach a larger audience.

STEP 2: Joint, non-financial project of NGO and CH

A good idea for the first steps in cooperation with your city/locality will be to offer the office a project that does not require financial support from the office. So, think about such an initiative, which the city can support from the promotional side, material side (providing facilities, spaces, tools) or substantive side (providing participation of experts, giving advice, co-authoring a document). This kind of activity will be of little responsibility for a less experienced organization. It will also certainly add value to the office, create a space for your organization to present itself from the best side, establish good relations with local government representatives, build institutional history, provide your team with experience, recognition and develop your network of local contacts.

STEP 3: Citizens' Budget

Otherwise known as participatory. Citizens' Budget is a process by which residents of a locality can submit their initiatives and democratically select those for which the local government will allocate money. Under the Budget, any resident of a locality can submit a project for a public task (along with its description and estimated budget). Most often, they are subject to approval by the authority, and then put to a democratic vote. The projects with the highest number of votes are financed with municipal funds. This form of implementing your initiatives with municipal funds is unique, because the decision on its success is made not by the decision-makers, but by the residents of your locality. Remember, however, that your project must be well thought out and feasible for the local government.

STEP 4: Microgrants

Based on Article 19a of the Law on Public Benefit Activity and Volunteerism, non-governmental organizations can apply for funding for their activities not only in open competitions proposed by the office, but also with their own original initiative. However, the amount of such a grant cannot exceed PLN 10 thousand. This is a good financial start - the organization can realize a small event, prove itself as an organizer, write an excellent financial settlement and start a systematic partnership with the local government unit in the best style!

STEP 5: Local initiative

According to Article 19b of the Law on Public Benefit Activity and Volunteerism, a local initiative is a tool that enables local governments to implement tasks submitted to them by the residents themselves. Such an initiative must concern one of the areas listed in the aforementioned article. A local initiative proposal can be submitted by min. 2 residents acting jointly or a local NGO. The authority enters into a fixed-term agreement with the applicants for the implementation of the initiative. This action is carried out jointly by the local government and the applicants - both parties must commit to a certain contribution to the initiative (it can be financial, in-kind, community service).

Best practices

Regardless of the size of your locality, when establishing and implementing cooperation with the local government, remember these principles:

The local government does not support every type of activity in every area - so it is important to know the city's priorities and financial capabilities in the area you are interested in.
At every stage of your relationship with the local government, you must take care to build trust in yourself as a partner - so you must be professional, reliable and responsible.
In any cooperation with the local government, it is worthwhile to take care of the promotion of both sides (provide promotional materials of the activity on the Internet, mark the pages of the office, adequately describe the activities of both sides).
In any application for funding, it is worth focusing on the experience you have - not only of the organization itself, but also of individual members of its team.
It is a good idea to ask questions at every stage of cooperation - this will allow both parties to avoid unnecessary mistakes and solve problems at an early stage.


STEP 1: A visit to the mayor's office
STEP 2: Joint, non-financial project of NGO and CH
STEP 3: Citizens' Budget
STEP 4: Microgrants
STEP 5: Local Initiative
Best practices

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