I am excited to share with all of you the plan for GG19. Much thought and work has gone into this plan, and I would like to personally thank all of you who have helped contribute.
We present this strategy and invite feedback and suggestions; your voices helped to craft what is already here and will continue to be invaluable as we move forward.
Objective: To refine and enhance Gitcoin Grants, emphasizing its role as a catalyst for innovation in crypto while aligning with the broader objectives of progressive decentralization and community empowerment.
Core Values & Goals: The focus is on recentering core values, improving program quality and user experience, ensuring transparency, and advancing decentralization.
- ETH Infra: Transitioning to a curated format, spotlighting pioneering projects in Ethereum.
- OSS: Introduction of AI/LLM tooling for grantee evaluations, blending technology and human intervention for unbiased and efficient reviews.
- Web3 Community & Education: Emphasizing inclusivity and community engagement by minimizing barriers and leveraging Quadratic Funding.
- Climate Solutions: Transitioning to an independent entity to explore new growth avenues and align better with Gitcoin’s focus on digital public goods.
Featured Rounds: Moving away from the “Featured Round” terminology to align with a self-service model via the Grants Stack, empowering round operators and emphasizing community-driven growth.
Gitcoin Grants, often called “the soul of Gitcoin,” represent the heart of our community-driven ethos. The grants program pioneered Quadratic Funding and has undeniably been a crucible for innovation, recognition, and profound impact in Web3.
As Gitcoin embarks further on a journey of progressive decentralization, transitioning from a centralized structure to a DAO, it’s imperative to delineate between community-led initiatives and those steered by Gitcoin. Our evolution has shifted from predominantly service-oriented offerings, like Gitcoin Grants and Hackathons, to a holistic suite of products designed to enable anyone to Build, Fund, and Protect What Matters to them. These changes and growth have not come without challenges and, over time, have impacted Gitcoin Grants and the PGF Workstream, where the ownership of “the soul of Gitcoin” ultimately resides.
The journey from our roots to a comprehensive product suite has been enlightening and challenging. As we navigate these waters, it’s crucial to ensure that the essence of Gitcoin Grants, which many regard as the heart of our mission, remains intact and vibrant. The lessons learned from our evolution and the feedback from our dedicated community have shaped our vision for the next chapter.
As we navigate the evolution of Gitcoin Grants, it is important to elucidate the structures and entities that are instrumental in overseeing and managing our Program Rounds, namely the PGF or Public Goods Funding Workstream. While we internal to Gitcoin may understand this team’s work, it may not be so clear to those outside looking in, so we will start by delving into some key questions that will provide light on what the PGF Team represents, its roles and responsibilities, and how it distinguishes itself within the broader Gitcoin framework, laying the foundation for the subsequent discussions on the innovations and strategies for GG19.
PGF is a specialized workstream within Gitcoin focused on managing and optimizing Gitcoin Grants. It operates on grants.gitcoin.co and is primarily responsible for ensuring the success and integrity of both Program and Community Rounds during seasonal Gitcoin Grants cycles. This team is responsible for enhancing the grant rounds, driving funding, exploring innovation, improving user experience, and actively engaging with the wider community.
Gitcoin Grants is a quarterly cycle where Gitcoin helps to drive awareness and funding to both Program and Community Rounds. This “hype cycle” generates buzz and excitement, creating opportunities for projects to gain exposure and secure funding. Gitcoin Grants act as a catalyst, attracting contributors, participants, and spectators and offering projects and round operators a unique opportunity to maximize impact, reach diverse audiences, and enhance credibility.
Program Rounds refer to the specific grant rounds directly managed and overseen by the PGF Team. These rounds are meticulously curated and optimized to align with Gitcoin’s mission and values, emphasizing transparency, decentralization, and community engagement.
- Managed by: PGF Workstream
- Responsibility: Full stewardship and management of the rounds owned by the PGF Workstream.
- Focus: Core ETH Infrastructure, OSS, Web3 Community
- Alignment: Strict adherence to Gitcoin’s mission and values.
Community Rounds are primarily owned and operated by external parties, with support provided by PGF, MMM, and Product Workstreams. These rounds offer a more decentralized and community-driven approach, allowing external entities to take the lead in organizing and managing the rounds.
- Managed by: External Parties (with some support from the PGF Workstream).
- Responsibility: Primary ownership and operation lie with external entities, fostering a decentralized approach.
- Focus: Community-driven initiatives and a diverse range of projects.
- Alignment: Flexibility to align with the broader objectives and values of the external entities while still adhering to Gitcoin’s overarching principles.
Grants Stack is a testament to Gitcoin’s commitment to decentralization and credible neutrality. It is open and accessible, allowing any individual or entity to leverage its capabilities to foster innovation and community engagement in the decentralized ecosystem, irrespective of their affiliation with Gitcoin. Let’s outline the differences between these two things for context.
- Gitcoin Grants: Gitcoin Grants are the seasonal grants rounds comprising the Program and Community Rounds described above. These rounds can be diverse, with the Program Rounds managed by the PGF Team and Community Rounds managed by external parties.
- Grants Stack: Grants Stack, in contrast, is a suite of tools and services, a credibly neutral decentralized protocol provided by Gitcoin. It facilitates the creation and management of grant rounds, empowering anyone to initiate and operate them anytime, ensuring a decentralized and community-driven approach.
To avoid confusion and ensure clear communication with our users and the broader ecosystem, PGF must better establish a distinct brand identity for the PGF Workstream, separate from the main Gitcoin identity, starting GG19. This distinction will protect the main Gitcoin brand from potential issues arising in GG19 and help build and maintain community trust.
We acknowledge the need for clear, external-facing communications and education regarding the different components of Gitcoin. We are committed to making progressive efforts to make the distinctions and the interrelations between these components legible to the rest of the ecosystem. This involves building the brands and independence of our suite of products like Grants Stack, Passport, and Allo, and also for the entities building on top of them, like the PGF Workstream or the vast network of partners across the wider Gitcoin Ecosystem.
- Recenter on our core values
- Enhance the program quality and user experience
- Bring clarity and continued transparency to grantees
- Further our journey toward progressive decentralization
With these in mind, as we chart out the goals for GG19, it’s paramount to ensure that specific goals resonate with the broader objectives of the DAO. Our ambition is to drive the success of this round and bolster the adoption of Gitcoin’s broader product suite that includes Allo/Grants Stack, Passport, and PGN.
- Allo/Grants Stack: Drive $1M in total individual contributions, with at least 50% of matching pool funds coming from new donations.
- Passport: Strive for 75%+ of Donors to authenticate their identity using Passport, with a score of 20+.
- PGN: All Program Rounds Run on PGN
By harmonizing our GG19 goals with the overarching DAO objectives, we’re crafting a roadmap that promises immediate success and product adoption. This alignment is our commitment to fostering a holistic ecosystem where our products and initiatives intertwine, amplifying each other’s impact.
ETH Infra will go back to our roots in GG19, shifting from an open application process to a community-curated format. Historical data will inform the curation, specifically past Quadratic Funding (QF) results and applications.
Funders League: They may have started their journey with Gitcoin Grants in some way but have since grown beyond, establishing their monetization and sustainability models. Their evolution is a testament to Gitcoin’s impact, underscoring how the platform nurtured these projects during their early days when they were still finding their footing in the vast Ethereum landscape. They won’t be grantees, but this “Jedi Council” will be crucial in nominating projects and raising funds for the matching pool.
Established: These projects have consistently been recognized through ongoing funding and support from Gitcoin Grants. Names like Lighthouse, Protocol Guild, ethers.js, Nimbus, Prism, Beaconchain, Geth, Nethermind, and scaffold-eth are a few examples that come to mind. These projects have become known names in the Ethereum Developer Community, continuing to rely on the support of Public Goods Funding via Gitcoin and others for their sustenance and growth. Established projects will be grantees in the round and can nominate one Emergent project to join them.
Emergent: These are the “up and coming” projects on Ethereum. We plan to push more decision-making to the community allowing the Funders League and Established Projects to have the privilege to spotlight chosen Emergent Projects ensuring that the responsibility of nurturing the next generation of Ethereum projects is distributed beyond just Gitcoin.
Each project in this category has significantly contributed to the symphony of advancements that directly support and advance the Ethereum ecosystem. This round celebrates the innovation and groundbreaking advancements of projects contributing to Ethereum’s infrastructure and ensuring its growth remains rooted in its original principles. It’s our tribute to them, echoing the cultural shifts of the past while spotlighting the emerging stars of Ethereum’s bright future.
- Preliminary Review: The PGF Team conducts a comprehensive review to identify potential candidates for the Funders League and Previously Accepted Teams.
- Community Involvement: The community votes on the final list through governance, ensuring decentralized decision-making and active community participation.
- Finalization of Projects: Based on community votes, the final list of projects is finalized, and continuous evaluation mechanisms are implemented post-selection.
The criteria are stringent, focusing on projects whose absence would compromise the security and stability of the Ethereum network rather than those contributing to its popularity or diversity of use cases. It’s about recognizing the essential contributors that operate in the background, ensuring the stability and security of Ethereum.
- Evolution Beyond Gitcoin Grants: Projects that began in some way with Gitcoin Grants but have since developed sustainable monetization and growth models.
- Contribution to Ethereum: Projects that have had a significant impact on the Ethereum landscape and have been nurtured by Gitcoin in their early stages.
- Role: These projects won’t be grantees but will be pivotal in nominating and contributing to the matching pool.
- Recognition and Support: Projects like Lighthouse, Protocol Guild, ethers.js, Nimbus, Prism, Beaconchain, Geth, Nethermind, and scaffold-eth have consistently received funding and support from Gitcoin Grants.
- Community Presence: Projects that are well-known within the Ethereum Developer Community and continue to rely on Public Goods Funding for sustenance and growth.
- Role: These projects will be grantees in the round and can nominate one Emergent project to join them.
- Development Stage: Up-and-coming projects in the Ethereum ecosystem.
- Community Decision-Making: Projects spotlighted by the Funders League and Established Projects, emphasizing community-driven selection.
- Role: These projects are the focus of nurturing efforts, representing the next generation of innovations in Ethereum.
Projects should align with the specified criteria for each category. The emphasis is on clear developmental stages, contribution to the Ethereum ecosystem, community recognition, and the potential for growth and impact on Ethereum. Projects unsure of alignment should refer to the criteria listed above to assess their qualification status.
This refined approach celebrates and acknowledges the projects and developers essential to Ethereum’s infrastructure, ensuring its growth remains true to its foundational principles. It’s about giving due recognition to those who operate in the background, ensuring the stability and security of Ethereum. Success for us in this round will look like the following:
- Rebuild Trust: By refocusing on Core Ethereum Infrastructure, we have extended an olive branch to our foundational supporters across the Ethereum ecosystem. This gesture is a step towards mending relationships with those who might have felt disillusioned with Gitcoin’s direction in recent times.
- Drive Funding: We have revitalized matching pool funding and built better sustainability for ETH Infra and Gitcoin Grants moving forward. This is especially crucial as the category’s prominence has waned over time, correlating with perceptions of our brand diminishing within this community.
- Proactive Engagement: This new approach underscores our commitment to actively connect and collaborate with influential and evident projects. By doing so, we foster stronger partnerships and gain invaluable insights from these industry leaders about emerging projects that are pivotal for Ethereum’s growth and sustainability.
The Open Source Software (OSS) round has always held a special place within the Gitcoin community. Its rich history and consistent support have made it a cornerstone of Gitcoin Grants since our earliest days. Over the years, it has become a symbol of Gitcoin Grants’ commitment to nurturing open-source development.
This season’s evolution will surface the introduction of AI/LLM tooling, a transformative step in approaching grantee evaluations. Our initial phase will involve the development of an internal tool, tentatively called Checker, designed to ingest eligibility criteria and subsequently assign a score to each project. While in its infancy during GG19, this scoring mechanism will be a pivotal tool for our team, aiding decision-making and significantly streamlining the eligibility review process. Humans will still review grants, but the AI/LLM can assess basic criteria to save time and improve the process.
Throughout GG19, we’ll critically evaluate the bot’s effectiveness, including false positives, false negatives, correct positives, and negatives when compared with a human reviewing, gleaning insights and lessons that will be instrumental in refining its capabilities. We will measure the tool’s success by comparing the # of grants the model would have approved vs. the actual approved by the team. Our long-term vision is ambitious: we aim for this bot to transition from an internal tool to a public-facing tool, enabling projects to self-assess their eligibility, thereby enhancing transparency and fostering trust within the community.
The PGF team will remain actively involved, reviewing grantee data. This human oversight is crucial, especially in identifying and mitigating threats like spam and sybil attacks. While the AI/LLM tooling promises efficiency and objectivity, our team’s expertise ensures the integrity and authenticity of the process remain uncompromised. This blend of technology and human intervention marks a significant stride towards our vision of a more decentralized approach to Public Goods Funding.
With these potential upsides, we are also acutely aware of the potential risks and ethical implications that arise from the convergence of AI and DAOs. Algorithmic bias, a longstanding concern in AI ethics, takes on heightened significance in the context of DAOs. We recognize the potential for perpetuating societal inequalities if our algorithms inadvertently favor certain groups over others.
To counteract this, we’re committed to adopting fairness-aware algorithms and conducting regular audits to ensure unbiased evaluations. While AI offers efficiency, we understand it cannot replace the nuanced human judgment essential for ethical governance. We’ll ensure that human oversight remains integral to our decision-making processes and allow for fair appeal and dispute processes to preserve the balance between automation and human intuition. Lastly, the security of our AI systems is paramount. As we enhance our DAO with AI capabilities, we’re vigilant about potential vulnerabilities malicious actors could exploit. We’re dedicated to fortifying our systems, ensuring they remain resilient against potential threats, and upholding the principles of decentralized, democratic governance.
Our goal is to create a level playing field where all grantees, irrespective of their stature or history, are evaluated based on their merit and eligibility criteria for the open-source software round. In essence, as we move forward with GG19, we’re not just upholding the legacy of the OSS round but enhancing it, ensuring it remains a beacon of fairness, innovation, and community-driven growth for the long term. The success criteria for this round are as follows:
- Merit-Based Evaluations: Ensuring that all grantees, regardless of their size or history, are evaluated and supported based on the merit of their projects and adherence to eligibility criteria, thereby maintaining a fair and unbiased environment.
- Efficiency and Objectivity in Reviews: Successfully implementing and refining AI/LLM tooling to streamline the review process, reducing manual workload and enhancing the reliability and objectivity of grantee evaluations.
- Accessibility and Self-Service: Progress towards a platform where AI/LLM tooling is refined and expanded to enable self-servicing of eligibility and grantee review, reducing barriers and making the platform more accessible to the wider community.
The Web3 Community & Education round has always been a unique facet of Gitcoin Grants. Historically, its broad acceptance criteria have made it one of the most challenging rounds to review for eligibility. This vastness, while a testament to the inclusivity of the community, has often led to complexities in ensuring suitable projects get the spotlight they deserve.
In GG19, we’re embracing a paradigm shift. We’re opening the gates instead of limiting participation through eligibility reviews. Our philosophy is simple: let the magic of Quadratic Funding take the reins. Projects will still need to meet the program eligibility, but the round-specific eligibility will be minimal. By doing so, we aim to ensure that genuine projects, irrespective of their size or history, get a fair shot at funding. The PGF team’s role will evolve from gatekeepers to guardians, focusing primarily on filtering out spam and addressing sybil attacks. Our advanced analytics will be instrumental in this endeavor, ensuring the integrity of the round remains uncompromised.
To further enhance the stewardship of this round, we’re introducing a governance function to identify key community members who can assist in guiding and overseeing the round. We envision having four community members and one community steward incentivized for their contributions. These individuals will work closely with the PGF Core Team, specifically with our community leads, to ensure the round’s success. Our community leads, with their expertise in fostering engagement, building relationships, and nurturing an active community, will be pivotal in this collaborative effort. Their role, rooted in community engagement and collaboration, aligns perfectly with the ethos of the Web3 Community & Education round.
Our decision to open up the round and minimize barriers is rooted in feedback from our community. We’ve listened to concerns about the subjective nature of past eligibility and review processes. By democratizing access and letting Quadratic Funding do its magic, we aim to reinvigorate community support and ensure that the Web3 Community & Education round remains a beacon of inclusivity, innovation, and community-driven growth.
In the Web3 Community & Education round, our decision to democratize access and minimize barriers directly responds to community feedback and a commitment to inclusivity. The following criteria define the success we aim to achieve in GG19:
- Inclusive Opportunity: Ensuring that by minimizing barriers and democratizing access, all genuine projects, irrespective of their size or history, have an equal opportunity to secure funding and support.
- Efficient and Objective Allocation: Successfully utilizing Quadratic Funding and sybil detection tools to facilitate an efficient and objective review process, ensuring genuine projects receive the support they deserve and minimizing biases in funding allocation.
- Vibrant Community Engagement: Rekindling and sustaining the community’s passion and engagement, ensuring the round remains vibrant, innovative, and genuinely community-driven.
- Minimized Biases: Demonstrating that Quadratic Funding can allocate resources that genuinely reflect the community’s preferences and values, ensuring that all projects are supported fairly and without bias.
The Climate round, since its inception, has been a testament to Gitcoin Grants’ commitment to addressing global challenges. This round and the team behind it have matured to the point where it makes sense for this to become a stand-alone round. This is an exciting next step in our progressive decentralization. Like the DeSci round before it and many other ecosystem rounds originally run primarily by Gitcoin contributors, this group is now ready to leave the nest and fly independently.
This transition promises several advantages:
- Autonomy and Growth: As an independent entity, the Climate initiative will be free to chart its course. This autonomy will enable it to explore growth avenues, including establishing a legal entity and unlocking new funding opportunities.
- Alignment with Original Intent: By shifting staff time from the Climate round, Gitcoin Grants Program can refocus on its foundational mission of supporting digital public goods, ensuring that our resources and efforts are channeled effectively.
- Increased Operational Efficiency: Separating the Climate initiative will streamline Gitcoin Grants’ operations, reducing overhead and ensuring long-term sustainability.
- Community Feedback: The community has voiced mixed opinions concerning funding sources and partnerships, and by making the Climate initiative independent, we address these concerns, ensuring that Gitcoin Grants and the Climate initiative can thrive.
The decision to transition the Climate round into an independent entity is not a detachment but a graduation. It’s a recognition that the initiative has reached a stage where it can benefit from autonomy; it can explore new horizons without the constraints of being tethered to a larger platform. This move proves Gitcoin Grants’ ability to nurture initiatives, provide them with a robust foundation, and give them the wings to fly. As the Climate initiative embarks on its new journey, it gains the flexibility, resources, and autonomy to make a more significant impact. Meanwhile, for Gitcoin Grants, this transition is a step towards refocusing, simplifying, and ensuring we remain unwavering in nurturing digital public goods.
Based on internal and external feedback, we will do away with the “Featured Round” terminology. We will now refer to those rounds primarily owned and operated by external parties, with some support provided by the PGF Workstream, as Community Rounds.
We may understand internally at Gitcoin the differences between Self-Serve vs. Program vs. Community Rounds, but let’s not assume that those external to our organization have the same understanding. To provide better alignment with our goals as a DAO, we will employ a “self-serve first” mentality meaning regardless of when the next round of Gitcoin Grants is running, we will always position a “self-serve first” approach urging teams to start using Grants Stack. Differentiation between self-serve and the value add of running a round during Gitcoin Grants can occur in the sales cycle or post Grants Stack setup.
Once an ecosystem has been onboarded to using Grants Stack, they will have the opportunity to flag their interest in participation in the upcoming Gitcoin Grants round as a Community Round. Accountable roles responsible for driving this conversion will be the SDR, Funds Manager, and Engagement Manager.
To take advantage of this, Round Operators must meet the Minimum Criteria for Community Rounds and commit 10% of their round matching pool back to Gitcoin. This “fee switch” will entitle them to the benefits of our featured rounds service (delivered by the PGF and MMM Teams).
Historically, the PGF team has dedicated resources to finding and servicing these rounds, and we realize a shift in how much effort is essential to ensure sustainability and focus on our core rounds and driving funding and support to the Program Rounds and our matching pool. By allowing round operators to take more of the lead, we ensure that the community’s voices and values are at the forefront, minimizing potential conflicts or concerns that arose from previous centralized decisions.
While we’ll continue to offer support, the future lies in enabling round operators to take the helm. By pushing the complexity and effort of running these rounds to the edges, we aim to decentralize the process further. Our focus will shift to providing round operators with standardized methods, tools, and referrals to qualified service providers that can offer various services, from marketing support and round management to security and sybil defense.
While our approach to featured rounds is evolving, our commitment to the community remains steadfast. The GR-OGs community will continue to serve as a hub for Round Operators to gather, share best practices, and interact directly with PGF Core and Product Teams. This space will foster collaboration and knowledge exchange and ensure that round operators have the support and resources they need to succeed.
The strategy and approach for GG19 will first be presented to the key decision-makers at Gitcoin, known as CSDO once CSDO approves the plan, it will be shared with the wider DAO (DAO Core) and community stakeholders who have provided critical feedback from previous rounds.
The finalized approach will then be opened up to the broader Gitcoin community for feedback and suggestions on the Discourse governance forum. Any partnerships flagged as potentially problematic or controversial will default to independent community rounds or be subject to a rigorous review process, including key stakeholders in all related workstreams before any commitments are finalized or public announcements are made.
You can see the most recent updated timeline on the PGF OS Notion Site.
As Gitcoin Grants opens the next chapter with GG19, the emphasis is clear: a commitment to decentralization, community engagement, and the continued evolution to meet the community’s needs.
By aligning with broader DAO objectives, introducing transformative tools, and ensuring community voices are at the forefront of decision-making, we are paving the way for a future where anyone can Build, Fund, and Protect what truly matters to them.
Comments, suggestions, and constructive feedback are welcomed and encouraged.