Policy Kitchen

Policy Crowdsourcing Method

What is Policy Kitchen?

Policy Kitchen is a policy crowdsourcing method developed by foraus, using a combination of a digital innovation platform and physical workshops. It enables a diverse network of thinkers to collaboratively generate bottom-up policy recipes for pressing foreign policy challenges. foraus secured funding over three years for improving the platform, building knowledge and scaling the community. This empowers program groups of all think tanks to run crowdsourcing campaigns - on their own, in collaboration with other think tanks, and/or with external partners.

Get a sense at www.policykitchen.com

Policy Kitchen is supported by: Engagement Migros

Why? - The Open Think Tank Network is more than the sum of its parts.

When working on issues of transnational relevance, it’s silly to stay inside the national bubble. We will make better policy recommendations when drawing on a transnational network. We will also have more impact with coordinated communications to our respective governments. We are in fact experimenting with ways to make global governance more democratic. Why not?

Learn more on the network, click here.

What’s in it for me?

  • You can use an advanced crowdsourcing software to generate content, build your community, and get visibility - for free!

  • You get support from our experienced project team in running your campaign.

  • We invest in developing the platform according to your needs.

  • You can use Policy Kitchen for your fundraising pitches - it has made it easier for us to get money, and it will make it easier for you, too.

Highlights of Policy Kitchen

  • Pilot challenges on Biodiversity (autumn 2018)

    • 7 workshops, including in Berlin in partnership with Polis180 and the Bosch Alumni Network (first case of transnational collaboration).

    • Rapidly built a network and visibility among major stakeholders around the topic (where we neither had networks nor expertise before). This includes a Jury with the state secretary on foreign affairs, members of parliament, CEO of WWF, etc...

    • Generated 43 ideas, some of which were handed to the Swiss Delegation at the COP-14 on biodiversity. Currently in the next phase, will lead to publication.

  • The challenge “Towards a Swiss AI Strategy” (winter 2018/19):

    • 3 workshops were held in Switzerland and San Francisco

    • It aimed at generating inputs for the Swiss Federal Working Group on AI

    • In collaboration with swissnex San Francisco and Microsoft, 68 participants representing youth, industry, policy makers, academia, and civil society generated 38 ideas for the working group. A summary can be found here.

  • The challenge “EU Digital Policy” (spring 2019):

    • This was launched by Polis180, in collaboration with Ponto

    • Several workshops were held in Berlin, Heidelberg and Vienna on giving young voters the opportunity to participate actively in shaping and improving the Digital Policy of the European Union

    • The 10 best demands were then selected, put together and published in this paper. Since then, they have been further discussed with members of the European Parliament at the Polis180 event on 26th September 2019 in Berlin.

  • The challenge on “Towards an AI strategy for Switzerland” (spring 2019):

    • 2 workshops in Zurich and San Francisco in partnership with Swissnex. Participants included governments, academia, NPO, UN, industry (also Google & Microsoft), civil society & youth

    • More than 40 new users and more than 20 ideas in 1 week.

    • Ideas have been submitted to the working group on AI of the Swiss government.

  • Further challenges led by members of the Open Think Tank Network include Swiss China policy, EU cultural policy, UK migration policy and more.

So how does this thing actually work?

1. Define challenge

  • “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask… for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.” (Albert Einstein)

  • Get feedback on your challenge question from the target audience (policy makers?) of your result. This gets you a buy-in from the beginning.

  • Know what the challenge should become at the end of the process: a paper? A blog series? A project? Think big, start small.

2. Set up a challenge

  • Once you have a rough idea, get in touch with policykitchen@foraus.ch.

  • They will provide you with backend access and a proper on-boarding, on how to use the platform.

  • Basically, you’ll need a challenge intro text and an image, clarity on the timeline and a selection of mechanism (crowd, jury, none?).

  • Below you will find a video tutorial on "How to create a challenge on Policy Kitchen".

3. Plan workshops

  • Workshops are used to seed ideas and users, foster community, and get visibility.

  • We suggest at least 2-3 workshops in different places.

  • You will find below a Policy Kitchen workshop design, yet feel free to make your own.

  • Get experts and spaces early to avoid rushing with invitations.

  • Target your core community and external stakeholders of the issue - the magic is in the mix, ideally vertically (junior / senior) and horizontally (different perspectives).

  • Workshops tend to need some budget. Consider event sponsoring or project based fundraising. We can help, yet it is better to do a small thing than nothing at all.

4. Engage the crowd

  • Use your core community and main channels.

  • Also use the opportunity to grow your program by targeting specific people and networks. Spend time identifying stakeholders and multipliers.

  • Physical workshops are key to get people interested. Just posting a link may work, but don’t put all your eggs in this basket.

5. Moderate the Platform

  • You’ll need 2 or more people moderating the activity on the platform. Welcome new participants, value new ideas, ask questions, give pointers to resources and people, discourage abuse. This role can be given to a junior with a witty mind and some basic knowledge about the issue. Time investment is about 1-2 hours per week over the course of your campaign.

6. Follow-up with chosen ideas

  • The result of the online process will likely be idea drafts, not the ready products. Authors may need some guidance to finalize their work. We usually offer workshops where authors get feedback from experts and peers.

  • Your process may also involve an ‘in-house’ team consolidating the output. Make sure you acknowledge the contributors if you do that.

7. Make noise

  • Ideas are worthless if nobody hears them. If you have decent output, make events around it, invite important people, go wild on social media, etc.

*This is flexible and experiments are always welcomed. Let us know your ideas!

Policy Kitchen Workshop Design Template

*This video explains how to run a policy kitchen workshop

Duration: 4 Hours

Participants: About 10 - 40 people. We strongly encourage you to ensure diversity, both horizontally (interdisciplinary, multiple sectors) and vertically (mixing senior and junior).

Roles: One person can have multiple roles (e.g. host, facilitator, representative), but the roles are distinct and you can empower more people by giving them representative or facilitator roles.

  • A Host - hosts the entire workshop

  • Facilitators - hosts a group session on a topic (~ participants / 10 = facilitators)

  • Expert(s) - provides brief challenge (“this is the problem, help us solve it”), provides advice and feedback to groups, supports group sessions with know-hows, and presents for questions.

  • Helper(s) - for organizational reasons

  • Representative of the organiser

  • Representative of the partner

  • Documentation (photo & video) - a person who documents the workshop


  • Inspiring space for whole plenary

  • Walls/ Whiteboard with standing space for 10 (as many such walls as facilitators)

  • WiFi, password visible in all relevant places.

  • Beamer

  • Name tags (optional)

  • Post-its

  • Paper cards (post-its can also do the job)

  • Pens for all

  • Each participant should bring a laptop

  • Catering (drinks/snacks throughout, after-workshop beer)


  • This format can be cut to 3 hours or extended to 2 days. Talk to us to know how.

  • This format doesn’t end with a flurry of useless post-its, but actual, public, output.

  • You need to know and communicate where the journey is going, and why you are doing this.

  • Policy Kitchen allows you to combine outputs of multiple workshops (and remote contributions) in one place.

Questions? Contact Policy Kitchen

A Schedule Template







(Optional: register / name tags)




Welcome message

Why are we here? What will we do?

Plenary, seated in half-circles with view to screen & presenter.



Who’s in the room?

(Brief if many, deeper/playful if few)



Intro: Organiser / Policy Kitchen

Representative of organiser


Message from Partner

Partner representative



Context and most important questions about the challenge



Issue mapping

What are the most pressing challenges?

  • 8 mins: Divide plenary in as many groups as there are facilitators / walls, according to interest in different aspects of challenge.

  • 7 mins: silent on post-its.

  • 30 mins: one by one, present issue to plenary, stick to wall. Build clusters organically. Stick duplicates onto clusters without comment.

Groups of ~10, standing at wall or large whiteboard



Groups form around issues according to interest. Use ‘3 dots each’ to figure out interest is and who’s in which group.



Break with snacks




Policy Kitchen On-boarding

Show on-screen how to create an account, post an idea and add co-authors. Make sure everyone got an account.





  • Silently: production of many! ideas on paper cards (7 min)

  • Without discussion: cluster ideas (10 min)

  • Choose 1 idea to work on (10 min)

  • Upload rough draft on platform as co-authors (20 min)

Groups of 2 (or 3)




Each group presents what they have been working on. Allow discussion if time permits.


(ideally seated in circle)



Ending / thank you’s



Drinks & Beer

This informal space is as important as all the rest above. Make sure you can keep the room for a while.


How about the fundraising part?

Policy Kitchen makes it easier for you to raise funds using a narrative along these lines:

“Look, we bring all this value and innovativeness to the table: a glitzy Policy Kitchen platform, a kick-ass international community of thinkers, loads of experience running participatory bottom up processes. Here are some of our previous successes (list).

Now all we need is a little support to run campaign X (or more). A little project management, some money to unlock workshops, publications and impact events (and a modest overhead). All the rest we already bring with us. This stuff is gonna shape the future and your name will be associated with it.”

You can now use that same narrative referring to Policy Kitchen when you do your fundraising. We would appreciate it if a fraction of the money also went to improving policy kitchen, but at this stage it’s more important that your projects fly.

Contact Information

Project Lead: Jonas Nakonz


Generic: policykitchen@foraus.ch