PhD Candidate, The University of Toronto
S17 Trusted Contributor, PGF
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
This GCP is intended for me to continue my work as a trusted contributor to PGF in S17 where I established DeSci as the first community-operated featured round within the new Gitcoin Grants Program.
It will cover:
- A summary of work achieved towards this in S17
- How extending this to a more general “recognized affinity group (or ‘subDAO’)” model for grant round operations and funding can enable Gitcoin to scale its impact without increasing costs
- The work needed to ensure there is ongoing support for DeSci within the Gitcoin grants program, and what would be needed to establish DeSci as the first of several potential subDAOs within Gitcoin
Special thanks to @connor for extensive feedback and to @M0nkeyFl0wer, @ceresstation, @kyle, @CoachJonathan, @azeem, @Maxwell, @juanna, and @J9leger for review and general discussion. This is now being submitted for wider community feedback and consideration as a GCP.
The recent Beta Round was the first iteration of a new model for the Gitcoin Grants Program, where a community-chosen set of core rounds were fundraised for and operated by PGF alongside a set of featured rounds which were funded and operated by external parties.
There are three major functional dimensions to running grant rounds:
- Operations (defining eligibility criteria and round parameters, screening applications, communication with grantees, support, fraud detection, matching calculations, processing payouts)
- Marketing (promoting rounds to prospective grantees and donors, ensuring that the community is active and engaged)
- Partnerships (raising funds for the matching pool)
PGF continues to manage core rounds, and in S17 established the Grant Round Operators Guild (GR-OG) to support featured round operators, and eventually self-serve operators in general. The GR-OG is a crucial step towards decentralizing operations/support for the Allo Protocol, and the MMM workstream is a crucial partner for bringing awareness to quarterly rounds.
The question of how to efficiently raise matching funds on a quarterly basis remains to be answered.
Core round matching funds are raised on a quarterly basis by the PGF partnerships team. Matching funds for featured rounds are provided by the sponsoring organization or company who want to run a grant round to support their specific ecosystem. A community-run featured round (e.g. DeSci) is however more similar to a core round in terms of how it should be funded, but without the organizational infrastructure that the PGF partnerships team provides.
DeSci is an emerging narrative within web3 that covers a broad range of topics, each with the potential to develop distinct verticals with large addressable markets (e.g. funding, publications/attributions, data, social). DeSci also creates an opportunity for onboarding a new set of users (scientists) into the space, and overall offers new ways of using blockchain technology to solve real-world problems that exist within society.
During the recent Beta Rounds, DeSci was the only_ featured_ round which was operated by a decentralized community instead of a specific sponsoring entity (via democratic election of four round managers/”stewards”, plus myself). Establishing this bottom-up community governance framework was intended to create a culture that could run recurring grant rounds without relying on a single individual (or group) to handle operations on a quarterly basis – and has so far been a successful experiment.
Building on the growing DeSci movement and the success of the inaugural DeSci round in GR15, I launched a new telegram group and invited past grantees, donors, and community members to join and get involved in running the upcoming round. To elect round stewards to represent the community as managers for this round, I set up a lightweight governance structure to carry out an on-chain vote (full details in this twitter thread).
Despite the high gas fees and some UX hiccups, the 65 DeSci round grantees crowdfunded a total $18,675 from 267 donors, making us the 2nd most funded featured round after web3 social.
S17 work towards DeSci as an “affinity group” or “recognized subDAO” within the Gitcoin Grants Program
This “DeSci x Gitcoin Community” proto-DAO now has the structure for this community to fund its shared needs in an open way, but the problem that remains to be solved is one that applies broadly to Gitcoin: “how do we sustainably fund these rounds, so we can continue to make an impact and support emerging ecosystems?”
The initial $50k “minimum viable round” matching pool came from Gnosis Chain’s contribution to DeSci GR15 (earmarked for the next DeSci round, which ended up being during the recent Beta Round). The matching pool grew by an additional $35k thanks to support from MoonDAO and Greenpill China, but it’s unclear where funds for subsequent rounds will come. This proposal describes work for the next two seasons which aims to solve these problems in a scalable and repeatable way through the creation of new social norms, incentives, and infrastructure within the DeSci and Gitcoin communities through a “recognized subDAO’’ framework.
In S17, I laid the groundwork for the DeSci community to develop into a recognized subDAO within Gitcoin. As a recognized subDAO, the DeSci x Gitcoin community would be capable of independently running future grant rounds as part of the Gitcoin Grants Program with minimal use of PGF workstream resources.
To custody our treasury and matching funds, we created a 5/7 multisig controlled by myself, the four community-elected stewards, and two PGF workstream leads as trusted backup signers (Ben West and Connor O’Day). This was funded by the community as its own project within the round, showing that we can cover operational costs (i.e. gas for round operations) – but also creates the potential to reward stewards for their work, thus creating new incentives that will sustain this subDAO round-over-round.
The Gitcoin Grants Program is the heart of Gitcoin. Though the DAO is transitioning from being a successful impact DAO to being a protocol DAO, dogfooding the Grants Stack and Allo Protocol is still essential, and Gitcoin will continue to run its Grants Program for the foreseeable future.
Gitcoin is already scaling the Grants Program in two ways:
- Launching a self-serve offering for anyone to run a grant round on their own terms (the protocol is already permissionless and open for anyone to use)
- Offering organizations the chance to run a featured round during the quarterly Grants Program via a minimum matching fund and a % service fee for operations and marketing support (great value given the substantial network effects that Gitcoin’s community enables)
This proposal aims to develop a third approach: a framework for decentralized communities (e.g. the Decentralized Science community) to establish and operate a “recognized subDAO’’ with the explicit objective of running grant rounds within the Gitcoin Grants Program. This continues the growth of the Gitcoin ecosystem without investing significant resources into additional PGF contributors, and without the direct support from a clear sponsor.
Round/topic-specific recognized subDAOs within Gitcoin could help the DAO grow and maintain a diverse and high-quality grants program without increasing costs or relying on key individuals within PGF, while being flexible enough to expand into emerging themes and narratives. These subDAOs could also take on support and marketing responsibilities (as the DeSci community already did in the Beta Rounds), and contribute to product development driven by the needs of their community.
A set of topic-specific recognized subDAOs would benefit Gitcoin by:
- Decentralizing Gitcoin’s Grants Program, growing the GR-OG, and generally creating more users for grants stack/allo protocol/passport – without added governance overhead costs for Gitcoin itself.
- Creating new opportunities for grantees, donors, and community members to directly and indirectly participate in Gitcoin governance. As members of a recognized subDAO that is directly working to support their interests, they will have a stake in Gitcoin’s success and broader DAO governance decisions.
- Creating a population of subDAO members who are incentivized to utilize GTC to participate in broader Gitcoin DAO governance (especially if these governance decisions have an impact on the subDAO they are passionate about)
- Acting as a more personalized on-ramp for grantees who will become supporters and community members of Gitcoin
- Engaging new donors who want to support a specific emerging theme/topic, who then get exposed to the broader community and concurrent rounds
- Enabling experimentation around the grants program at a smaller scale (e.g. different QF models)
Gitcoin is an important partner for emerging community subDAOs because:
- Gitcoin’s brand reputation and credibility is important for raising matching funds
- Marketing support and network effects during grant rounds ensure visibility and donations to projects
- TBD, but: subDAOs would benefit from support in establishing some governance infrastructure. One idea is a mechanism for time-locked/vesting GTC as rewards for elected round stewards (voted on by that specific subDAO, and from funds raised by the subDAO – several possibilities exist and are being explored).
- In the context of this proposal: support for me to directly 1) continue developing this model with DeSci as the first example in S18/19, 2) ensuring the funding and operational needs are met so the next DeSci round can happen, and 3) help at least one other community adopt this affinity group/recognized subDAO model
- Future featured rounds are expected to incur a service fee for operational support provided by PGF – a necessary step for the DAO to achieve revenue. This service structure makes a lot of sense when the client is a company/protocol that receives major benefits from running a round alongside Gitcoin. In the case of a decentralized community, this only compounds the challenges in funding a round and incentivizing community members to take on the task of managing a round. I propose that this service fee be initially waived for community-run or “recognized subDAO” rounds – but expect this arrangement be discussed on a rolling basis as a hypothetical subDAO achieves its own sustainable funding.
I would like to be clear that the primary focus of this work is to ensure that we have sustainable, ongoing support for DeSci grant rounds. Thinking about how to achieve this has led to the realization that we must develop community infrastructure (socialware, and eventually trustware) lest we rely on specific individuals to make these rounds happen each quarter. The aim of this work is for the DeSci community and round to not require ongoing financial support from Gitcoin / PGF (i.e. by paying contributors to operate the round), but rather to operate as a partner to Gitcoin to ensure mutual success of the grants program and Allo Protocol / Grants Stack.
I believe this approach that I am proposing and implementing for the DeSci community could be useful and adopted more widely, and may have further-reaching benefits for Gitcoin. I recognize this is an experiment but I am committed to documenting and working with the broader community to develop and execute on this.
Funding for S18/19 will allow me to complete the following:
- Completing documentation and retrospective review of DeSci Beta Round
- Blog post(s) for Gitcoin describing this process and outlining the “recognized subDAO model” (after additional discussions and community feedback on a separate forum post). I would work with MMM to further explain this in a twitter thread and a community call.
- Defining and executing on phase 2 of the “DeSci recognized subDAO” experiment:
- Continue to establish our governance structure and process alongside the community
- Expand membership to include all DeSci Beta Round (and GR15) grantees and donors, as well as vetted community members
- Design and execute on experimental incentive models for subDAO round managers and “partnerships team” to ensure sustainable round-to-round funding and operations
- Potential retroactive incentive model for round stewards (elected operators/manager): xx% of matching pool is awarded to round stewards as time-locked GTC (decided by the subDAO via QV or directly by QF on a “grant round ops fund” project in future rounds)
- Potential prospective incentive model for “subDAO partnerships”: Community-decided “commission” on closing matching fund contributions.
- Personally ensuring we secure a minimum of 50k in funding for the next 6 DeSci rounds (opting-out of the potential commission model described above while having my work funded by Gitcoin, until the 300k funding threshold is met)
- Define and ratify how a “recognized subDAO” can be formally recognized by Gitcoin
- What benefits does the subDAO receive?
- What commitments does the subDAO make to Gitcoin?
- How is this governed?
- Continue to establish our governance structure and process alongside the community
- Begin planning and operations for the next DeSci round – ideally acting as an advisor to a newly-elected set of round stewards and “DeSci subDAO” operator.
- Help apply this “recognized subDAO model” to a different community within the next two rounds:
- Some possibilities to explore include Climate Solutions, ReFi, DEI, Greater China, Arts and Culture
- Any community that already has an active online space where community members could feasibly coordinate around operations for a grants round would be a good candidate
- Continuing various partnerships-related conversations for the benefit of Gitcoin more generally (philand.xyz, Scroll zkEVM, Little Atlas, and more…)
The work described in this proposal will require continued close coordination between myself, the PGF workstream, and the broader DAO. This would also require me to attend weekly PGF and DAO-wide meetings, functionally operating as a trusted part-time contributor to PGF (as per my S17 status). This is accounted for in the budget and hourly allocation described below.
Though related to the work being undertaken by PGF, this is being submitted as a separate proposal as it falls outside of the workstream’s immediate strategic focus for S18/S19 and represents a new vision for how the Gitcoin DAO may be structured.
Note that this proposal and funding request is partially retroactive as it pertains to work I’ve been doing in May and June 2023 while not on the workstream payroll.
A subDAO model could introduce new forms of competition within the Gitcoin ecosystem, where different subDAOs end up competing for the same sources of funding (whether externally or from a shared pool generated by PGF’s efforts). This creates the risk of emergent unforeseen negative consequences, but also creates new potential opportunities. Experimenting with and testing this model should thus be done in close collaboration with PGF and the Gitcoin DAO.
I am requesting total funding in GTC equivalent to to $34,000 USD ($32,400 USD salary based on an 18 hour per week commitment for S18 and S19, plus a $1600 travel budget)
The travel budget is to present this work at an upcoming conference. I have already been invited to speak at several conferences about my DeSci-related work with Gitcoin (DeSci Boston, DAO Montenegro (EDCON), BlockSplit (Split, Croatia), ETH Barcelona, and DeSci Paris) but will target the DeSci Berlin x Funding The Commons conference this September.
As a corollary to this being approved, my status as a trusted contributor to PGF would need to be kept such that I maintain access to notion and google workspace (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(72 hours/month) * (6 months [S18+S19]) = 432 hours (note: partially retroactive as we are ~1.5 months into S18)
432 hours * $75 USD/hour = $32,400 USD + $1600 USD = $34,000 USD (approximately 35175 GTC based on token price as of 19 June 2023)
($75 USD/hour based on comparable GCP budget requests)
The proposed work would take place during S18 and S19.
Future proposals requesting subDAO-specific support from Gitcoin will be submitted by those subDAOs if/when they are needed and can be clearly defined.
- Yes: fund this proposal with the requested amount (GTC equivalent to $34,000 USD)
- No: Do not fund this proposal
- Abstain: I am missing context or this proposal needs more refinement