Gitcoin Grants: Proposed Updates

Overview: Gitcoin is one of the longstanding players in the Ethereum ecosystem and is best known for its public goods funding program. The Gitcoin Grants Program started in 2019 and has distributed over $56M of funding to public goods that benefit Ethereum. It was one of the first and primary vehicles to test the revolutionary crowdfunding mechanism, Quadratic Funding.

19 rounds later, we’re even more passionate about the role of grants in growing the Ethereum ecosystem and ensuring its success and sustainability. We’ve learned a lot over the last 19 rounds, and we’re due to turn some of those learnings into action and a few changes to the program!

What we’ve learned:

  • The strongest (and most growth) grantee demand is in the open-source software category. Grants managers who come to Gitcoin to run their rounds are heavily focused on funding software/dApp builders, and it’s clear that growing these projects is linked to the success of Ethereum. We want to strengthen our focus on the OSS round to support this.
  • Independently run grant rounds are playing a larger role in funding what matters. Our motivation in launching a Grants protocol + dApp was to enable anyone to run their grants programs, and it’s finally possible! We’ve moved from Gitcoin running all of the rounds to having ~50 different communities launch on Grants Stack since June.
  • Measuring project impact is becoming increasingly possible and important criteria in funding decisions. We’re excited to support these efforts by participating in Regen Learnings and future product efforts to measure better and track impact.

Based on these learnings, we’re proposing a series of changes to the Gitcoin Grants program.

Open Source Software Round (+ Eth Infrastructure)

First, Gitcoin will only operate one core round, Open Source Software. Due to the small size of the Eth Infra round (19 projects in GG19), Eth Infrastructure projects will be included in this round. We are interested in exploring how this round may be segmented and encouraging feedback from the community on areas of innovation (e.g., account abstraction) within OSS and potential categories for bootstrapped vs. VC-backed projects.

Second, we will increase the target matching pool for Open Source Software to $1M each round (vs $250k currently.) This will continue to be funded through our fundraising efforts, partnerships, and the gitcoin.eth matching pool. This change, as well as the core focus on OSS, is designed to deepen our investment in what we believe is the most meaningful role that our program can play in Ethereum’s growth. We believe that the strong demand from EVM-based grants programs and our depth and history in supporting OSS are a perfect fit!

Finally, we will move the Open Source Software round to run twice annually (every six months) vs every three months as it has traditionally. This allows us to dedicate larger matching pools for each round and strengthens our impact reporting and evaluation focus. When running rounds every 3 months, there are often only 6 weeks between grantees receiving funds and when they start working on their next application. This doesn’t give them enough time to effect or demonstrate their impact from the previous grant.

Web3 Community and Education Round (this section has been updated from the initial post thanks to feedback from this community)

We are proposing to transition the Web3 Community Round to a governance-led initiative. In this revised structure, we will create a dedicated pool of funds (up to $125K quarterly) to support “matching on matching” pools, with no quotas on the funds provided. This means that any funds raised by communities are eligible for matching without the previously mentioned cap of up to $25K. This adjustment aims to replace the Gitcoin-run Web3 Community and Education round, allowing aligned communities to fund what matters to them more directly and increase the matching funds available during Gitcoin Grants rounds.

For GG20, we will limit the number of community rounds to 5 to ensure we can provide adequate support in this new format. However, we anticipate increasing the number of rounds in future iterations.

We propose electing a slate of badgeholders to decide which communities/rounds are eligible for funding. These badgeholders should be active in the grants community but not core contributors to Gitcoin. If this proposal passes, we commit to gradually giving the council more authority over time. This includes creating new matching pools in areas they feel are underserved, such as a potential web3 journalism round.

Following the approval of this proposal, we will proceed with an election process for badgeholders, outline the eligibility criteria, and detail the application process for Community Rounds, ensuring a transparent and inclusive approach to governance.

NOTE: For GG20, we propose hosting the round with a slightly adjusted governance process to give us time to codify procedures and processes moving forward fully. More details on this will follow in a separate governance post.

Proposed Gitcoin Grants Program schedule for 2024:

  • GG20, April 2024: Open Source software round + 5 community rounds
  • GG21, June 2024: Citizen’s retro funding round + 5 community rounds
  • GG22, August 2024: Open Source software round + 5 community rounds
  • GG23, December 2024: Citizen’s retro funding round + 5 community rounds

Conclusion

We hope these changes create a bigger and better version of the Gitcoin Grants program – with more funding going towards grantees, focusing on funding areas of strong ecosystem demand and innovation, and proving that Grants = Growth. If this proposal passes, we’ll commit to the following:

  • Executing the changes as described above
  • Quickly creating and rolling out a badgeholder program for approving community round funding
  • Regular reporting (post-GG20 and EOY) of the impact of these changes

Regardless of whether this passes, we’ll continue to pursue operational excellence for the program and grant innovation. We’ve run the Gitcoin Grants Program 19 times and still feel like we’re just getting started – there’s so much growth and learning ahead. We welcome your feedback on this proposal and appreciate your continued support of Gitcoin Grants!

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I’m excited to see the grants program evolving and doubling down on OSS while creating more autonomy for community rounds to apply for matching funding.

When this goes to a vote, I will be voting ‘yes’ to these proposed changes.

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Hi Sov needs a tiny correction here. :herb:

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spent some time with our gg data today to visualize the amount funded (y axis) over time (x axis). the size of each bubble is the amount in $$$ funded

if we group together rounds that run in the same month… and visualize the number of rounds (y axis) over time (x axis) + make the size of each bubble is the amount in $$$ funded… this simplifies the data a bit, this is what the trendlines look like.

one thing that visualizing this helps me think about is how the GG programs are basically marketing lightning strikes that channel everyones attention to gitcoin. and then the momentum spreads to the in between dots.

here is a visualizatoin of this point.

i am wondering how this will change now if we move to 6 month rounds… whether the community rounds/self service rounds will continue to grow up and to the right (and larger)…

now that the ciitzen rounds will alternate with the program rounds (each running every 6 months, but there is ideally lightning strike every 3 months), i hope to still see a continued pattern of up and to the right momentum of

  1. more rounds being run
  2. more capital being allocated

expressing this visually… Will the upward trendline continue in the new format?

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Great catch … sorry for that. Just updated!

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Thanks for this, very interesting visuals indeed. To be clear, GG will continue quarterly, with the larger program round (OSS) to be bi-annual.

I think we have the opportunity to make those quarterly marks even more profound as we look to distribute funds back out via the new community round structure and empower those communities at the edges to further grow and fund what matters.

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Hi hi; long time fan first time in the forum here…quick question: does a “Citizen’s retro funding round” already have an established flow everyone is familiar with? I ask because it seems separate from the OSS and community rounds but went unaddressed in the text.

Generally this seems like a really great move and if I had votes I’d be voting in support!

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@TheTokenJedi thanks for your comment! We met at the PDXDAO Event a few months back, glad to see you here!

You can. take a look at the proposal below for more details on the Citizens Program. @krrisis and @umarkhaneth are community contributors who can also help with additional questions.

The proposal below shows what has been most recently approved, but more emphasis will be put on this concept as we move forward, so expect growth and improvements to surface in the days ahead. @MathildaDV @Viriya and @CoachJonathan will lead many of these initiatives in partnership with my team.

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These are very interesting indeed! Thanks for sharing.

IMO from a marketing POV we will continue to have those lightning strikes as we will empower each community round to market their own round (giving them unique canva templates + designs) where Gitcoin will still amplify all marketing efforts and host shill spaces during these periods.

This is how I’m seeing it anyway! I personally don’t want to see any of those efforts fall away during a round.

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I do think scrapping web3 community and education round entirely is a mistake so i will be voting no in the snapshot

Many people’s first entry into the gitcoin universe is through the permissionless core rounds . By choking this funnel point to developers only, we are shooting ourselves in the foot & hurting overall growth of the product stack. Some whose first experience is with a core round will later host their own community round, so I’m against closing it off entirely for non devs.

For a small amount every 6 months (even $150-$200k) gitcoin can market it’s product stack to not just devs but also community folks. Seems counterproductive and penny wise/pound foolish in the long run. I expect giveths QF rounds to fill up the space being vacated by gitcoin moving away from funding anything that’s not tech related.

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Hey @thedevanshmehta thanks for your perspective! Responded on twitter and figured I’d do so here in a few more characters…

First of all, I still see equal creation of funding opportunities for web3 community and education projects. The community round structure is intended to create those. In fact, you could run for a governorship position and advocate to set the criteria for funding to only web3 community and education based projects!

I think you and @owocki make a good points about not wanting to hurt product growth, which is obviously super important. We’ve made a commitment (regardless of whether this goes through) to report on the impact of any changes to the program and will certainly recommend adjustments if it seems like growth is negatively impacted.

Zooming out on the purpose of the Gitcoin Grants program – we’re stewards of this fund and want to deploy it in a way that is 1 aligned with the community desires and 2 benefits the growth of the ethereum ecosystem. We see it as a key source of “cradle stage” funding for ethereum projects. Right now I’m hearing from grants managers in other ecosystems (typically funding more mature/unicorn projects) that they have healthy pipelines of community projects, but a lack of OSS projects and dApp builders. Given that, it feels like the Gitcoin Grants program can have the highest impact on the ethereum ecosystem this year by funding those OSS projects & filling that pipeline.

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Wow this sounds interesting :sparkles:

Lovely approach to metagovernance of rounds thanks; more grants = more growth for everyone

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This is an interesting idea and way to move web3 community and education into the hands of communities themselves. The idea could work if people can raise 25K outside of Gitcoin for matching funds. I could be wrong, but aside from Zuzalu (which got a significant amount from a specific donor) or chain-specific rounds (Arbitrum/Polygon), I don’t believe any community round has come close to being 25k in size. The SheFi round supported by Octant was about 14k USD and was the largest community-funded round I believe. There is the Climate round, but that also used to be a core round that has now spun off into being community-led, but still ran its last round as a large-scale and more accessible round. *also not counting dev-specific rounds either - talking mostly about rounds that web3 education/community projects would fit into.

Is the idea to have larger protocols and chains (like Arbitrum, Base, Lens etc) run these community rounds? Or would the idea be a group like GreenPill x RefiDAO get together and go out to search for 25k in funding, then come back to gitcoin to see if they will match it? I understand it could be a combo, I’m just curious who the ‘who’ is you envision will be running these rounds.

The 25k bar to entry before matching begins feels a bit high (at least to start seeing at this is in 2 months) for the community of current grantees to meaningfully be able to take over and run these rounds for the larger community - without it being chain agnostic.

Maybe there is slow progress to the 25k min after 1-2 rounds to build momentum and let the community of past grantees get a handle on how it might want to support each other moving forward in this.

I support the idea in theory and experimenting is part of what we’re all here to do - just curious about how this will maybe affect those ‘medium and small’ tail projects/communities that don’t have the bandwidth or network to raise the 25k to be eligible for matching, but have been using Gitcoin rounds as a way to keep building because of the consistency in them.

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With how seamless it was using grants stack for the Octant + SheFi round, I’m really excited about this proposal, it definitely creates a lot of opportunity to highlight the tech in the form of success stories, and I feel like it can continue to create a lot of win win outcomes for everyone participating.

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@owocki
It will continue even better. People will have time to rest and be excited about the future round event and when the time comes, they’ll give it even more, otherwise smaller more often events can be rather tedious. It’s like when you’re excited about 1-2 annual rock festivals instead of the monthly local smaller gigs.
Also, now people can make their own rounds and since there will be only 2 major official Gitcoin rounds, they’ll have more time in between if they wish to do their own thing, so that part is perfect.

@lanzdingz
I agree with you. Instantly had the very same concerns about the entry bar being too high and the impact on the smaller communities/projects.

@thedevanshmehta
Very valid concerns. I do think that Gitcoin and Giveths overlapped a bit too much, so if they somehow become complementary, that’s still a big win in my book, because they won’t be competing directly for the same audience, as that kinda made Giveth seem in the shadow of Gitcoin overall and if not for the awesomeness of the project and perseverance of the devs, if felt like one of those projects that might just call it quits eventually if not getting some sort of edge (those reward points are an interesting concept though but not sure if enough). I clearly don’t want Giveth to go away and will focus more on it myself, even though I’m a developer myself of an open source game project.

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I like the

  • focus on open source software. I can focus on metrics related to downloads and onchain creations.
  • bigger rounds less frequently. gives us time to build instead of constantly applying for funds.
  • I appreciate getting the email telling me to review this proposal
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Thanks for the comments, very much appreciated. I wanted to add some responses in line to your comments.

We have had the minimum Community Round size at $25K for a few seasons now (as linked below) and as recently as GG19 saw Community Rounds of this size that included Token Engineering Commons, Open Civics, Greater China Community, and 1inch LATAM.

I believe with the help of this community and new focus from our Ecosystem Collective we can come up with creative ways to connect funding partners with groups who are looking at creative ways to fund what matters to them (we have a few discussions to this end happening that you will see in the days ahead as new rounds are launched!)

We appreciate the vote of confidence. We realize this is a shift from how we have traditionally run Gitcoin Grants but believe that it is the right move and will allow for further growth at the edges over time.

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hey, awesome.

i’m fairly new to gitcoin mechanics and i don’t speak from a thorough understanding of all the gitcoin round details

however, theoretically applying sound principles of iteration and testing to validate / invalidate a new idea … I would recommend not doing anything too drastic if there is current, steady growth

instead, take these new ideas and test them in a sandbox first, define what the expectations are based on the changes made and define what metrics will be used to evaluate them

if the results are positive outcomes, scale them, if not, iterate on the idea and test again

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Looking forward to aligning the Citizens rounds with some of the upcoming GGs! I hope this post makes it easier for citizens to plan the work they do in advance of the round.

Wanted to +1 this. In particular, it would be amazing to see @thedevanshmehta running a round.

Personally I think the recent community round results have shown the eligibility criteria are too broad and leave room to fund almost anything, including communities dedicated to airdrop farming. Running not one community round but several which are each more focused and helmed by someone with subject matter expertise to draft tight eligibility criteria could lead to better outcomes.

Gitcoiners often feel in a tight spot as we try to remain credibly neutral and not take too strong a stance on what deserves funding and what doesn’t but instead let the community decide through their donations.

As a result, over time the Community and Education rounds were expanded from their initial focus on Media and Independent Journalism (back in Round 4 Bankless/RSA/David Hoffman raised funds and were validated here). I think there is now space/funding for people to create bottoms-up rounds that are specific, opinionated, and higher-quality without costing any of Gitcoin’s credible neutrality

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Donor fatigue is real, the shift on cadence have its pros and cons, but IMO the pros outweighs the cons.

I do like the fact Gitcoin is shifting toward a more measurable impact within the verticals that provides the highest upsides as OSS & ETH Infra… basically everything else depends on these two.

Gitcoin is shifting from trying to fund everything to fund what matters to the long-term growth of Gitcoin and enabling communities to do the same with the Grants Stack.

I also agree with @Sov & @umarkhaneth about the Web3 Community Round; I think as builders focus on a specific chain and built their home base providing value to that ecosystem, they will have the opportunity to unlock even more funding; this already happened with RetroPGF 3.

+1 on this one, he could do a great job running a round. :man_detective:

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