What are Citizens' Panels?

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Everyone deserves the chance to participate in the decisions that will impact them. But if you’ve struggled with balancing over-represented and under-represented voices in a public engagement, you understand how challenging it can be to bring a full range of perspectives to the table. 

Solve your engagement challenge with Citizens’ Panels.

Citizen’s Panels are made up of a diverse cross-section of the members of your community, led on a journey to participate in your public engagement via Ethelo-designed communications campaigns. We work within your community to draw a representative panel of participants to the process, and provide you advanced results analysis and list-building at the end. 

Our smart, multi-channel campaigns are tailored to the values and interests of different under-represented groups, saving your staff time and money otherwise spent on outreach and promotion. We identify and target key geographic, demographic, and stakeholder groups over a variety of media channels with strategic content that speaks to their unique values. We also build meaningful working partnerships with community connectors and influencers to help spread the word in an authentic way.

‘People’ become ‘participants’ of a Citizen Panel once they understand how they’re personally connected to the public engagement, and why it’s so important that they have their say. 

Here's an example of a Citizens' Panel: 

Citizens' Panels helped Salt Spring Island, BC, hear from 10% of the population in their recent climate action planning process - a representative sample that helped create a GHG reduction plan with broad support. 

How did we do it?

Our communications & engagement experts  identified the different demographic groups on the island and connected with diverse groups like farmers, cyclists, youth, business owners, renters, and housing advocates in order to learn about their priorities and craft targeted content that was relevant to them. We also amplified the voices of local influencers to reach stakeholders that might not otherwise have participated.

Residents were led to the platform via a combination of digital ads, direct emails, mail-outs targeted to specific postal codes, posters, and local stories in both online and traditional community newspapers. All of the advertisements were written in a personal voice, featured images of local people, plants, and locations. To make the process hyper-local, the ads highlighted both risks of climate change to Salt Spring Island, as well as opportunities for improving the quality of life in the community while also reducing greenhouse gases.

These efforts made the process look and feel local - because it was local. 

“It’s challenging to engage a representative slice of our island community using traditional public meetings. Generally, the same small group of people attends all the public engagement sessions. It was great to see that a broad cross-section of community members took part in the process and, as a result, this process will be able to help us identify specific policies that can be more widely agreed upon by the community”. - Laura Patrick, Island Trust Elected Official. 

Read the full Salt Spring Case Study here.

Find solutions that will work for everyone

Citizen’s Panels deliver a community ‘temperature check’ on the issues at hand. Unlike polls or focus groups, the Ethelo platform allows participants to give nuanced feedback on different policy options by weighing trade-offs, prioritizing options, and working within constraints. Ethelo combines this feedback to generate policy strategies that are most likely to have a broad level of support, especially after a representative sample of people has had their say. 

Find the stories in the data with advanced reporting

Public sentiment is analyzed and displayed in real-time throughout the engagement. Each community is different, and we monitor engagements and continually adjust strategies to reach the sub-communities whose voices have not been heard. At the end, the rich data is packaged into a detailed, ready-to-share report that tells the story of each person’s preferences. This data is key to making decisions that better reflect the community’s real interests and attitudes, and helps decision-makers meet their specific engagement goals - whether that’s avoiding unpopular decisions, finding the right mix of ‘carrots’ and ‘sticks’ for policy-making, or demonstrating public support for an issue. 

Build your lists to stay in touch with participants

In addition to advanced reports, you’ll receive lists of contact information from all participants who choose to opt in, giving you an easy way to re-engage Citizens’ Panel members in future initiatives or projects. The lists are segmented into categories of your choice based on demographics and interests, and are ready-to-upload into email newsletter programs.

For example, local governments have combined Ethelo surveys, Citizens' Panels, and our list-building capabilities to find great potential applicants for PACE funding programs. 


When decision-makers commit to bringing the full range of representative voices to the table, it results in fair, accurate, and transparent plans that community members are ready to take ownership of. Citizen’s Panels deliver actionable results with the social license to move forward, built on a foundation of inclusive two-way dialogues with your community.

Want to know how it could work for you? Click here to learn more about Citizens' Panel, or fill out the form below to schedule a free 1-on-1 Consultation with our team of Engagement Experts.




September 23rd, 2020 | Engagement, Citizens' Panels | 0 Comments