Digital Democracy Home - Citizens Foundation
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Citizens Foundation video introduction

Connecting governments & nonprofits with citizens

The Citizens Foundation was founded in 2008 in Iceland and now has offices in Iceland, the United States & the UK. It’s mission is to help connect governments and nonprofits with citizens by creating open online engagement platforms and offering consultation on how to best plan & execute successful citizen engagement projects.


The Citizens Foundation believes in non-partisan futurist solutions to current problems facing democracy. We have recently seen technology undermine our faith in debate in the public arena; the foundation believes that innovations in technology can be used to restore faith in democratic debate and institutions instead.

We were awarded for our efforts with Better Reykjavik in 2011, winning the European award in the e-Democracy Awards as well as several local awards in 2011 and 2012. In 2015 a forum of the mayors of the Nordic capitals awarded our Better Neighborhoods project in Reykjavík the Nordic Best Practice 2015 award.

Connecting citizens and governments

Upgrading Democracy around the world

Active Citizen / Open Active Voting / Participatory Budgeting / Policy Crowdsourcing / Your Priorities
Active Citizen / Participatory Budgeting / Policy Crowdsourcing

Open Participation Solutions & Services

Policy Crowdsourcing with Your Priorities


Your Priorities enables citizens to come up with great ideas and debate those while minimizing personal arguments and trolling. Your Priorities has been used in hundreds of engagement projects in over 20 countries by over 1.5 million people for the past 10 years.


Citizens add ideas, can view other people’s ideas, and take part in an effective debate about each idea. For each idea you can add points for or points against. Once you’ve added a debate point, other people can vote the point up or down but they can’t comment directly on it – they will have to write a standalone counterpoint that has no direct connection to your initial point. This makes trolling almost impossible, defangs and downplays any personal arguments between participants, and is the key to the high-quality engagement that is achieved when using the Your Priorities platform.


Participatory Budgeting


Budget voting and civic education with Open Active Voting

Empower Citizens With AI


Empower citizens with Artificial Intelligence with Active Citizen

Meet The Team

Robert Bjarnason

President & CEO

Róbert is a successful entrepreneur that introduced the web to Iceland in 1993 and in 1995 to Denmark. Before co-founding the Citizens Foundation in the year 2008 he worked in the online gaming industry where his team received many industry awards.

Guðný Maren Valsdóttir

Creative director

Maren is a multimedia artist and a designer. She is a force of creativity energy at the Citizens Foundation and works on the design of our apps and websites since the year 2012. Maren also contributes to the overall strategy and sits on the board of directors.

Gunnar Grímsson
Gunnar Grímsson


As a co-founder and former CEO Gunnar has been at the heart of the Citizens Foundation since its start. He is an experienced process and interface designer with a strong background in multiple fields and has worked on citizens engagement projects all over the world.

Joshua Lanthier-Welch

Executive Director, Citizens Foundation America

Josh brings to Citizens Foundation America a diverse background, with stints in academic development and philanthropy fundraising, working closely with Robert in writing, design and business development tasks in the videogame industry, and most recently in socially responsible entrepreneurship in promoting sustainable agriculture and improved food systems.

Katherine Breedlove

Director, Citizens Foundation America

Katherine brings years of experience in logistics and operations. For the last ten years she has worked closely with Josh in social, political, and educational outreach in the agricultural sector, helping to build a brand that promoted sustainable agriculture and best practices in the food industry.

Dave Parsons

Director, Citizens Foundation UK

David has been involved in the development of Internet applications since 1996. Initially working at the Internet Applications Group (INTAPPS) delivering enterprise level applications for companies including PwC, UBS, Vodafone & BP. In 2004 he founded Decypher Media that developed advanced Fintech applications and websites for global hedge funds GLG Partners, Man Group PLC & Castle Trust.

Our Social Networks


Open Source Software

Your Priorities App


Participatory idea generation and policy crowdsourcing social network application on github.

Open Active Voting


Budget voting and civic education app on github.

Active Citizen


Artificial Intelligence for citizen via Active Citizen library on github.

Let’s connect!

The Citizens Foundation, a global nonprofit based in Iceland, provides affordable, creative, and secure open source solutions using the latest web technology for civic engagement. Easy to use, mobile adapted, multilingual solutions for citizens to engage their governments or other organisations are our speciality. Our tools are used daily to generate ideas and solutions for communities as well as to make binding or advisory budget choices on refined ideas during special periods.

Request information on our tools. Please tell us what you need from digital tools for your community or organisation.

Check ALL the items that interest you and leave us a short message. Send me information on:

Digital Solutions and Tools Information with links to the best videos and presentationsFree Webinar about Idea Generation and Participatory Budgeting with Q and A on our digital tools (Better Reykjavik’s 8 years, 4 million Euros per year participatory budgeting experience.)Hosting or Software Development Options - Affordable service level agreements, advanced hosting, software customizationOpen Source Code - I am a technology developer interested in options for collaboration

How do we make our communities better? Please share your thoughts with the Scottish Parliament. You have until the 20th of January to make your voice heard. 📢

There isn't much time left to submit session proposals for #TICTeC in #Reykjavik. If you have interesting insights, research or experiences about using #tech for civic & democratic purposes we urge you to apply - some travel grants available

NEW FUND 📢 Our Democracy Pioneers project is offering £100k for up to 10 innovations that are experimenting with ways to reshape everyday democracy in the UK: Apply by 31/1

.@SP_LocalGovt are seeking views on how to achieve #CommunityWellbeing. You can tell us what you think in a variety of ways, including by video, using our new digital engagement tool here: The closing date for views is Weds 22 January.

Congratulations and thanks to @OliverEscobar & @StephenElstub for creating such a comprehensive guide to the field. Really looking forward to reading/teaching it.

I was delighted to author the 'Democratic Innovations in Social Policy' chapter:


📖 New Book‼️We’re really excited to present the Handbook of Democratic Innovation and Governance, co-edited by @StephenElstub and I, featuring 38 chapters by 60 authors covering this field of research and practice around the world #demopart #democracy #participation Thread 1/5 2

Have you learnt lessons from developing #civictech or #digital #democracy projects? Or have some impact stories to share? If so, we would love to hear from you via our open Call for Proposals for #TICTeC. Come and share your experiences in #Reykjavik!

Better Reykjavik has “show[n] people that a little bit of transparency and a little bit of participation dramatically decreases divisions between people” #govtech @CitizensFNDN @GilbertYourTown @DanaBerchman @Cityof_Flint @CitiesOfService @MoDataGarcia

Icelandic citizen engagement tool offers tips for U.S. #civictech #govtech @CitizensFNDN @GilbertYourTown @DanaBerchman @Cityof_Flint @CitiesOfService @MoDataGarcia

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