How to start working with the City Hall (in a larger 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.


There is probably such an institution in your city. These are centers run primarily by NGOs as part of a commissioned task and financed by municipal budgets. They offer training opportunities, educational webinars, rental of space on preferential terms, free legal and accounting assistance. Check out what an NGO Support Center in your city has to offer!

STEP 2: Civil Dialogue Commission

These are civic advisory and opinion-making bodies, dealing with specific topics. If there is no Commission in your city dealing with the area you are interested in - the will to establish a KDO can be submitted by min. 5 NGOs operating in the city. Check if you can act within the KDO or establish a new Commission in your city!

STEP 3: Joint Bid

Provided for by Article 14(2) of the Law on Public Benefit Activity and Volunteerism. Two or more NGOs may submit a joint bid to the city, i.e. an activity performed in partnership. If, in cooperation with the City Council or on your own, you manage to find an experienced NGO that is looking for help in implementing your activity, then its joint execution will be a very good way to start the city's activities. It can build your organization's institutional history, enable networking, gain experience and build trust between your NGO and the local government!

STEP 4: Microgrants

This is how it looks, e.g. in Lodz, Gdansk. On the basis of Article 19a of the Law on Public Benefit Activity and Volunteerism, NGOs can apply for funding for their activities not only in open bid 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: Report the public task as a priority to the cooperation program for the next fiscal year

According to Article 5a (1) of the Law on Public Benefit Activity and Volunteerism, it is the duty of each local government unit to establish a Program of cooperation with NGOs for the next fiscal years. Some cities also create multi-year plans in this regard (but this is not mandatory). Organizations can participate in consultations of such programs and submit their proposals for public tasks that should be prioritized by the office. Such action can make your organization's activities closer to the goals pursued by the local office in the coming years!

STEP 6: Report for a meeting at a specific city council committee/ department

An interesting way to establish a closer relationship with the office is to arrange a personal meeting during a session of a selected city council committee or department to discuss your organization's specific proposal or general prospects for cooperation. When doing so, however, it is worth not expecting full acceptance of your proposal without any comments from the office. On the contrary, this type of meeting should be approached with understanding and interest in the work of the department in question, be open to learning and looking for possible points of common ground.

STEP 7: Experience of unpaid action

A way to gain the trust of the office, gather experience and build the history of your organization, as well as expand the network of beneficiaries and cooperating entities of your organization is to offer a free activity (conducted for a limited period of time). These can include workshops in schools, webinars, thematic meetings with local residents. In this way you can offer your local government a form of partnership - your organization will not only draw substantive and financial support from the local government, but will also offer something from itself. Of course, an unpaid activity can only be a beta version of a larger project - if you present yourself well, subsequent editions of such events can be financed from external sources, including those of the city 🙂

STEP 8: Participation in the Public Benefit Council

This is an advisory group that gives opinions on local legislation regarding the third sector, volunteerism or public benefit. The councils are appointed by the executive body (e.g., the head of the municipality). It is mandatory for a letter expressing the will of min. 5 local organizations. The term of office of a municipal or district council is 3 years. The powers of the council are primarily to take positions on legislation, but they can be expanded depending on the initiative of its members. 

STEP 9: Self-initiative proposal

In accordance with Article 12 of the Law on Public Benefit Activity and Volunteerism, any organization may apply for funding for an activity that has not been provided for by the local government through an open bidding competition. Such an application should include a description of the proposed task and an estimate of its costs. If the authority deems the task justified, it will inform you of the granting of the application and the date on which a tender competition will be opened for the task. Then your organization can apply in it. We hint: in the case of an initiative application, it is worthwhile to prepare your offer well. Present your organization, its vision and team structure to the office, and show what (measurable!) benefits our idea will bring to the city. Before submitting a formal proposal, it is worth arranging a conceptual meeting with the mayor or the person representing the office in the area, verify its good and bad points and together look for the best solution.

STEP 10: 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 application may be submitted by min. 2 residents acting jointly or a local NGO. The authority enters into a fixed-term contract 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).

STEP 11: Open competitions

This is the city's way of selecting organizations to carry out certain public tasks (within the framework of the subsidy provided). The competition is announced min. 21 days before the deadline for submission of applications in the Public Information Bulletin of the office, as well as on its website, in the press, social media, etc. Such an application, including a description of the proposal for the implementation of the task in question, its date, place, budget and experience of your organization should be submitted on the appropriate template; cities also often use an external platform on which to submit their offer (such as the platform Remember that such cooperation relates to specific public tasks, important from the perspective of the city - you can not submit any project to it. At the same time, it is necessary to regularly monitor the BIP page of your city to stay up to date!

STEP 12: Competition committees

Applications submitted in open competitions for offers undergo a formal inspection, conducted by employees and staff of the city office. Subsequently, the local government appoints a competition commission, which evaluates the bids on the merits (awards points and selects the winning organizations). Thus, cities conduct open calls for members of competition committees, looking for representatives of NGOs, such as in Cieszyn. in Cieszyn. Participation of a representative of your organization in the competition committee in your city can be another form of partnership with the local government - as it offers value to the office, puts the person representing your entity in the position of an expert, allows you to get acquainted with good (and less good) proposals submitted to open competitions, understand the procedure and the way the office functions, and get to know the employees and staff of the local local government unit better.

STEP 13: Request for Proposal

Local government units have the option of submitting an inquiry (in accordance with the Public Procurement Law). Such an inquiry means that the authority seeks an entity that will perform a specific public task for the most attractive amount, while guaranteeing the highest possible quality of the project. The inquiry must be sent to min. 3 different entities, but offices can also announce them publicly (e.g. on their website). After receiving bids to perform the task, the office selects the most favorable offer based on predetermined criteria.

STEP 14: Visit with the President

If your organization's initiative does not fall within the above framework, or you find that you need to establish direct contact with the city mayor (for example, you are keen on the honorary participation of the Mayor at a planned event), it is possible to arrange a direct meeting. However, it is important to prepare well for such a meeting. 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 values offered to the city.

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: NGO Support Center
STEP 2: Civil Dialogue Committee
STEP 3: Joint bid
STEP 4: Microgrants
STEP 5: Submit the public task as a priority to the cooperation program for the next fiscal year
STEP 6: Report for a meeting at a specific committee of the city council/substantive department
STEP 7: Experience unpaid action
STEP 8: Participation in the Public Benefit Council
STEP 9: Own-initiative proposal
STEP 10: Local Initiative
STEP 11: Open Competitions
STEP 12: Competition committees
STEP 13: Request for Proposal
STEP 14: Visit with the President
Best practices

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