The companies' combined capabilities provide leaders with the next-generation of engagement solutions to unite governments and residents, increase trust, and strengthen confidence in decision-making.
Polco is proud to welcome Balancing Act, maker of simulation-based public engagement tools for budgeting, housing, climate, planning and other issues.Community engagement is at the core of both companies, making the merger a natural fit.
Engagement can solve some of the most pressing issues local governments face today. Most residents do not understand the inner workings of government, especially budgeting. This knowledge gap contributes to polarization and damages public trust.
Engagement can educate and cultivate empathy with community members who may otherwise be out of the loop on government decisions.
In Polco’s case, the mission is to involve as many residents as possible in decision-making processes. Balancing Act’s simulations allow officials and community members to experience the trade-offs it takes to balance a government budget. Producing better outcomes through engagement and improving government-community connections are at the heart of both solutions.
“This merger furthers Polco’s mission to bring communities together around their most important topics in a civil and constructive way,” said Polco CEO Nick Mastronardi. “The budgeting process is one of most important parts of the fiscal operational year, and Balancing Act excels at getting input on that process.”
Polco will soon integrate Balancing Act’s simulations, providing residents the opportunity to see new data and interact with it. In addition to the simulations, Balancing Act offers a Taxpayer Receipt that estimates local government revenue and shows residents how their tax dollars are put to use.
Subscribers can expand their engagement options with Balancing Act’s tools if they choose. The simulations add more quality input into decision-making. For example, Polco products identify community priorities. Officials can then use the Budget Simulation with those priorities in mind. The additional engagement cultivates a stronger, more active community audience.
The extra layer of engagement enhances the quality of government-resident interactions overall as well. Balancing Act’s simulations put everyday residents in the shoes of the decision-maker. Residents who experiment first-hand with the sometimes difficult concessions it takes to balance a budget gain more understanding for government officials. Furthermore, Taxpayer Receipt cultivates trust through transparency.
Example of Balancing Act's housing simulation
Balancing Act’s brand, service, and staff, including President Chris Adams, will continue providing budget engagement solutions under the Polco umbrella.
“Our public engagement tools help local governments establish effective communication with their constituents, no matter the conditions,” Adams said. “Our team is thrilled to join Polco’s in this mission to provide governments with multiple methods of community involvement for increased transparency and trust.”
Used together, Polco and Balancing Act form an end-to-end participatory decision-making experience. A roadmap of how to use each of these engagement tools throughout the planning cycle will be available soon.
Balancing Act and Polco are philosophically aligned government technology organizations addressing the challenges local governments face today through government-citizen collaboration.
Polco brings the voice of everyday residents to government leaders with award-winning community engagement services, online polls, and survey research and the most robust government performance data set ever assembled through Government Performance Action & Learning (GPAL). Balancing Act offers award-winning simulation-based public engagement tools such as Budget Simulation and Housing Simulation.
Together, they provide the only of it’s kind data-driven decision-making tool set to empower government-citizen collaboration and the next generation of solutions to address polarization, declining trust, staffing issues, housing shortages, and other concerns.
What is the business rationale for this transaction?
It was an obvious alignment. Third parties have called this merger, “One of the most complementary unions in govtech industry history”. Together they will fill a significant unmet need by empowering leaders with a complete toolset for collaborative and data-informed government decision-making.
The combined companies will shape a new era of informed government decision making and community problem solving. The joint capabilities and expertise of the company represent the first and only of their kind solutions that are exactly what is needed by government leaders and their communities.
The merger will help address declining trust in government and the impact of misinformation on communities.
The National Community Survey by Polco showed overall confidence in local government decreased 8% from 2020 to 2022. While tech didn't cause the initial seed or decline, utilization of tech that wasn't designed for civic applications has unfortunately accelerated that decline to a dangerous point and all-time lows.
A Polco survey showed almost 80% of local government professionals said misinformation has negatively affected their organization by a moderate to a significant amount. Sheer tech communication into different echo chambers inside of Facebook and ultimately into completely disparate platforms is a good example. Anecdotally, from various communities, their use of non-civic technology survey solutions, and then their inability to reference the results, has had negative sustainability effects where people fail to come back and re-participate in such platforms.
The irony is that tech that is correctly designed for civic applications, Polco and Balancing Act, together are uniquely able to help reverse these trends and strengthen communities.
Will product offerings change?
The products of both companies are continuously evolving and now benefit from added enhancements made possible by the merger. Through integration and R&D investments the products will continue to be enhanced and expanded in value and in a breadth of ways we can better serve our customers.
How will this change impact customers?
Customers will maintain their existing access to products, features and high quality customer success relationships. Polco and Balancing Act will be hosting a webinar for all customers to share more details about the enhanced value of the partnership. Customers should keep an eye out for an invite or contact your customer success manager for more information.
Customers in most cases will not need to make any changes to their billing and contracts. Additional product purchases can typically be done with a simple contract addendum.
How will the merger impact the employees and locations of the companies?
The company will retain the employees of both Polco and Balancing Act. The company will operate with offices in Middleton WI, Boulder CO and Denver CO; and supports many hybrid and remote team members.