CauseLabs has built many financial literacy projects during our 15 years in business, and Balancing Act is one of the most exciting. Since 2014, we’ve worked with our long term partner Engaged Public to encourage private citizens to change the way they think about public policy and budgets via the Balancing Act budget simulator.
Balancing Act is a budget simulation tool for governmental entities and organizations, like cities, towns, and other municipal groups that
CauseLabs CEO Sheryle Gillihan recently attended a conference and awards ceremony for the Neighborhood Association Leaders across Fort Worth where Balancing Act was demoed in one of the workshops. 60 attendees participated in the workshop demo where they were tasked with balancing a hypothetical deficit of $4.2 million with a few intentionally challenging fiscal options thrown in.
This generated some interesting discussions, such as how difficult it is to balance cultural practices with citizen wellbeing, and how to increase funding for transportation without pulling money from valuable community programs. Participants got creative with their thinking about ways a city could provide public programs beyond taxes, like partnering with local nonprofits. Sharing the reality of these complex financial decisions with the public challenges their beliefs on how budget decisions are made.
It’s always exciting to see people interacting with your product in real-time, and though this wasn’t a formal user study, the results are equally valuable. Tools like Balancing Act aren’t inflexible, stagnant products — they’re a constant, iterative collaboration between Engaged Public, CauseLabs, and our future and present users. Thanks to the Neighborhood Association Leaders of Fort Worth for trying our product and sharing your thoughts.