Apply for up to £500 to help make the change you want to see in the world.

The ‘Imagine Democracy – You Decide!’ initiative aims to fund creative actions by groups or individuals that re-imagine local democracy through activism, campaigning, creative expression, building public awareness, etc.

For example, you might want to organise a public action, event or visual display to raise awareness or promote action around an issue you care about; encourage voter participation at the upcoming local elections; or persuade government and/or your elected representatives to take action on a particular issue.

We’re very open minded as to the type of actions we will support and are hoping you’ll inspire us with your creative ideas!

We ask only that ideas meet the following basic criteria:

  • Fair: actions must not be exclusionary or discriminatory in any way and should focus on an issue or issues that are of clear benefit to wider society or groups that are experiencing disadvantage in some way
  • Legal: you must have any necessary permissions in place for your proposed activities and it should not breach any existing legislation
  • Feasible: the activities must be realistically achievable within the budget and timeframe (all activities must be completed no later than 31st May 2019)
  • Non-party political: this funding has been made available by the Building Change Trust, a registered charity, and so must abide by Charity Commission for NI rules – in particular your activities must not explicitly endorse or oppose any specific political party

If you are considering submitting an idea to Imagine Democracy we would strongly recommend you contact us to discuss it first. Here’s the contact information for the relevant people:

To apply for the funding please complete the brief application form below, with your details and the outline of your bid and submit it online no later than midnight on Friday 29th March.

This will then be evaluated by an independent panel, which will decide whether your application meets the criteria of being fair, legal, feasible and non-party political.

Successful applicants will be invited to do a public ‘pitch’ on Saturday 30th March 2019 from 2-5pm at the Crescent Arts Centre, University Road, Belfast as part of the Imagine Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics. You will have a maximum of three minutes to present your idea to the audience in whatever format you wish, the more creative the better. If you need any aids (e.g. a projector screen to show a presentation or video) or have particular requirements please let us know in advance via the application form.

Members of the public attending the ‘Imagine Democracy – You Decide!’ event will vote for their favourite ideas and the top six ideas will be funded (more if funds allow). Each attendee will have multiple votes, one of which they can use for their own idea, with the remainder distributed amongst their other favourites.

Please note that for technical reasons the funds awarded will be spent on the winners behalf on the activities specified, or reimbursed, rather than paid upfront.

The winning ideas will be invited back to a celebration event in June 2019 to tell us about what they did with their awards.

The Imagine Democracy – You Decide initiative is an example of participatory budgeting, a democratic innovation where members of the public come together to explore community priorities and decide directly how public money is spent. It is part of the Participatory Budgeting Works project funded by The National Lottery Community Fund through the Building Change Trust.


  • Applicants must be at least 16 years old at the time of application, however are free to involve younger people in their activities if they wish. Anyone over the age of 10 is free to attend and vote in the event on 30th March
  • Applicants must be based in Northern Ireland
  • Only one application per organisation, group or individual please.

NB. Please make sure you save your answers to the questions in a separate document. If necessary a copy of your completed application can be requested from Paul Braithwaite via

application form

Q1. Name of individuals or group(s) bidding for the award?


Q2. What are your contact details?


Q3. What is your idea & how will you make it happen? When do you expect it to be completed? (The project has to be completed by 31st May 2019.) NB. 300 words max – we will count them so don't go over!


Q4. Tell us how your idea will help re-imagine or deepen local democracy? (200 words max)


Q5. How much money do you need and how do you plan to spend it? (Remember you can bid for a maximum of £500.)

Total amount needed:


Q6. Please name the person or people who will be there at the event on 30th March at 2pm in the Crescent Arts Centre to present your idea. Please provide at least one additional contact phone number different from the one already provided in Q1:


Q7. Do you have any accessibility (e.g. disability, language) or any technological requirements (e.g. laptop, projector screen, sound) to help you with your pitch at the voting event on 30th March? NB. If you have a slide presentation or video you will need to send it to Paul or Louise (see earlier contact info) no later than 4pm on Friday 29th March.

NB. Please answer all questions.

and finally…

  • Don’t forget to register for the event on 30th March – you can do that here
  • Please also check out the Participatory Budgeting Works website at and sign up for our mailing list

thank you and good luck!