Citizens’ panel

$5k to $15k
estimated cost of external help
  • Scan and research
  • Prioritise options
  • Consult
9 weeks or more
estimated run time
3-5 weeks
estimated lead time
Adept organiser
recommended experience
A large, demographically representative group of citizens who have been invited to be part of an ongoing program of research and consultation. Participants are generally recruited through random sampling of the electoral roll or postcode address file, and may be available for consultation over a period of months or years. Typically, consultation of the panel involves regular surveys but may extend to focus groups and workshops.

This is not an engagement technique in itself, rather a means of sourcing and maintaining a representative group of citizens who can be easily contacted when the need arises. The clear communication of expectations at the recruitment stage is important in making the citizens’ ongoing involvement a positive experience.

In 5 steps...

  1. Map out the desirable make-up of a panel.
  2. Develop material that presents both a clear value proposition to participants and what their level of commitment will be if they accept.
  3. Communicate requests for participation that allow some lead time, so the participant can ensure their availability.
  4. Provide feedback on outcomes where appropriate.
  5. At the end of the citizens’ panel, provide feedback on the sum total impact – the number of policies, services and so on that used the participants’ feedback as input.

When to use it

This participant recruitment technique is most appropriate in the planning stages of a project, if it’s likely that regular ongoing consultation will be required.

The panel can also be used to track changes in participants’ attitudes towards certain issues over time. As a result, it may also be useful in the delivery stage as a means of getting targeted feedback to measure the success of implementation.


  • Allows the targeting of specific groups.
  • Can enable feedback from a representative sample, even with very short lead times.
Long term
  • Tracking of the sentiment of a group over time.
  • Building a dialogue between the community and government.


  • Having one group that is repeatedly engaged may limit exposure to new ideas and create false expectations of the actual population’s sentiment, especially if the participant group is not large enough to be considered a statistically significant sample.



  • Determine the sample size and structure you require.
  • Establish documentation and communication paperwork that clearly articulates the task, likely frequency of engagement, and value to the participant.

During the process

  • Ensure that the communication with participants is regular, and that when requests are made, these are done in a consistent and clear manner.


  • If compensation for time is part of the arrangement, ensure that payments are made in a timely manner.
  • Communicate the end results of any projects that participants influence, so that their interest is maintained and they feel like they are having a meaningful impact.

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