How does the DAO prioritize side rounds?

Hey everyone.

I want to illuminate a matter of importance to the DAO governance, which I dont think there is a presently a policy on, and recommend that there is a formal policy on.

The matter is: How does the DAO prioritize Gitcoin Grants side rounds?

The problem is Resource Scarcity. Because there is demand for tools that build ecosystem public goods, there is intense demand for Gitcoin Grants Side Rounds & Aqueducts. While the DAO is still (1) scaling its ability to provide these rounds operationally, (2) building grants into a credibly neutral protocol that anyone can fork/deploy, the DAO has limited bandwidth to provide side rounds.

My recommendation

My personal recommendation is that the DAO should always do whats best for the web3 ecosystem & for Gitcoin’s mission.

Tangibly that means I believe we should ratify a credibly neutral policy to prioritize projects

  1. that have high amounts of recurring funding to deploy
  2. that have high legitimacy

(side note: readers who have been following this forum closely may notice that these are the criteria that I highlighted in this blog post about scaling grants funding)

Basically if you lay out this policy on a 2x2 matrix it would look like this:

(top right = highest legitimacy / funding amount)

Splicing this up by priority:

One open question for this is: who decides what projects are legitimate or not? Its clear which inbound interest has $$$ because that is quantifiable, but legitimacy is subjective. Ideally this is judged someone who is imbued with this power to discern legitimacy by the flow of GitcoinDAOs own legitimacy. Perhaps it is the Public Library since this fits pretty clearly inside that workstream’s charter?

Feedback welcome.

As always, this is just a suggestion. Curious what others think!


Totally agree with this, and will emphasize that this roughly reflects the framework already being used within the Public Goods Funding Workstream. It is definitely a bit subjective, as you suggest, but this is directionally spot on.

Thanks for laying this out @owocki!


This is a great topic and I’m glad to see it surfaced. I love the idea of Aqueducts, but to your point it’s very possible for us to get overwhelmed by demand for specific themed rounds, and ecosystem rounds in particular (we’re already seeing a ton of inbound from projects across the ecosystem).

Ultimately, how we prioritize these rounds has to come from the DAO first and foremost, and to that end has to fit in with our mission & vision. Within the Public Goods Funding workstream there’s been a lot of research and discussion on this topic leaning heavily on some of the work that was done in Seeking a New Kind of Public Good and Other Internet’s Positive-Sum Worlds.

Personally, I think the prioritization matrix fits in well with these discussions, and I’d love to see a task force within PGF emerge to formalize such a matrix that includes our ecosystem partners. In my view the easiest way to do this would be to first draw from a combination of folks from the public library, grants ops, and partnerships.

Fortunately, most if not all of our partners thus far are high quality + legitimacy members of web3, and so making this matrix wouldn’t be too controversial.

However, as we scale we will have to make hard decisions about whether a partner truly aligns with our values, and these decisions may be uncomfortable and complex. Therefore, I’d recommend we put forward a committee that can specifically focus on outlining a private version of this matrix based on a public policy related to our core values (principally to define what we view as legitimate).

One interesting option we could consider w.r.t. legitimacy might be how much a project is willing to contribute to public goods beyond their ecosystem. I know some partners we’ve talked with have already expressed their willingness to donate up to half of their streams to Ethereum at large, and to me that’s a huge win not just for us but for the communities we serve.

tl;dr +1 on everything so far and excited to see the conversation move forward


I generally agree with the framework laid out here, and I think it’s what we’ve naturally been following for some time.

One additional aspect I’d like to toss out is some consideration for variety, diversity, and experimentation.

If we strictly follow this framework, we may end up with 90% of the high priority partners being popular DeFi projects/protocols with huge treasuries. This isn’t a bad thing at all if these projects are community favorites and flush with funding for future rounds. However, I think part of Gitcoin’s mission is to drive adoption for the QF mechanism far and wide. This may mean bringing on partners for side rounds that may not fall under “high priority” here, maybe they don’t have significant funding yet, or they haven’t established widespread legitimacy as they are not as well known.

I’d love to see a diverse set of ecosystem rounds happening at the same time - some for DeFi, some for gaming, some for NFTs/artists, some for alternative (non Eth) L1 protocols, some for non crypto related tech, some for real world issues (as we’ve been doing with Cause rounds lately), some for… you get the idea :slight_smile:

Not all rounds will be a huge success but plenty of ecosystems can benefit from QF and we won’t know what works best without experimenting.

Also, I agree with Scott’s point to prioritize projects that are also willing to donate to the main/general matching pools, alongside their own ecosystem pools. Win-win for all!

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