[Proposal] Grants Stack S20-21 Budget Request

Grants Stack TL;DR

Grants Stack is an app built on the Allo Protocol that Gitcoin publicly launched in June. Our purpose is to help grants managers easily launch, manage, and grow their grants programs. The product was internally trialed in an Alpha/Beta process in H1 23 to run Gitcoin Grants rounds. Our focus has now shifted to external adoption and growth.

We’re still early in our growth curve but gaining momentum and adoption. Our focus in S20 and S21 will be accelerating that adoption by leveraging our Quadratic Funding and Direct Grants features, and introducing paid pricing to reinvest in our product development efforts. Our product will be successful when the grants managers who use it achieve community involvement and builder engagement that makes their programs successful.

S18-19 Goals

See previous updates on these goals here and here.

13 Serviced QF rounds

  • Status: Achieved, 27/13 rounds completed
  • More info: This goal was an absolute blowout thanks to the awesome efforts of the PGF team. It’s been great to see the growth in grants management skills among the round managers in GG18, and I’m looking forward to many of them running their own community-led rounds during GG19! As we scale down the number of rounds that Gitcoin is directly managing, we will likely not have service-oriented goals in the future.

5 Direct Grants rounds

  • Status: Predicted to achieve 3 or 4 out of 5 rounds. The feature launched in production on 10/2. As of 10/3, we have 1 round live from Powerpool and commitments for rounds from the Uniswap/Arbitrum grants team, Starknet, DIMO, and SPACE ID.
  • More info: We built a direct grants feature in S18 through a partnership with Bootnode. Though this was a painful development process, we learned a lot and I’m thrilled by the early interest and adoption of this feature. We have rapidly built momentum over the previous few weeks and we will be leaning into this in S20.

8 Self Serve QF rounds

  • Status: On track, 7/8 rounds launched (Metacamp, Green Pill, Citizens, Geo Web, Fantom, Arbitrum, Citizens 2.) Additional commitments to run in October from Polygon, Avalanche, and SheFi.
  • More info: Though QF adoption has been slower to build vs direct grants, I’m excited by the momentum we’re gaining here as well. We have finally broken out of the “Gitcoin & Friends” bubble over the last month with external and independent operators. We will continue to focus on adoption and education of this feature and weight needs of QF operators against DG operators.

S20-21 Goals

50 grants rounds

This is roughly quadruple our previous goal (13) as we aggressively build adoption. These rounds can be run across any mechanism (QF or DG.)

10 rounds run by repeat grants managers

This includes both repeat quadratic funding rounds and direct grants rounds that span multiple months. This will prove that our product has staying power and can generate loyalty. In this small, enterprise-style grants market, return rate will be key to building a sustainable business line. This excludes Gitcoin-affiliated operators (eg Citizens Round, Green Pill)

5 paying customers

Launching the product as a paid offering will allow us to truly gauge PMF and orient our product, marketing, and sales efforts around sources of value or revenue. We will likely delay a paid offering until after the modular architecture and Allo v2 adoption is complete as that would be disruptive to newly paying customers. Otherwise, I think the quadratic funding feature offering is nearly ready for paid adoption and we have tested & identified a MVP revenue model for (10% fee on matching pool for rounds >$5k.)

Read More

You can read more about our vision for Grants Stack, the investments we’re making to achieve our goals, and what’s on our roadmap at the links below.

2-Year Product Vision: Gitcoin Grants Stack – Product Vision

S20 Strategy: S20 GS Strategy

Roadmap: Grants Stack Roadmap

S20-21 Budget Request

The next two seasons’ budget requests ($496,090 for S20 and $541,090 for S21) are nearly flat with S19 ($498,097), and we anticipate that it will stay this way for the foreseeable future. We will continue to invest in the core Grants Stack team but do not anticipate growing headcount substantially or bringing any other major costs in-house. We believe that in order to successfully and sustainably scale, we will need to figure out how to harness the power of external or community-based development. We anticipate funding that development through GCPs in order to better solicit buy-in and engagement on this work, rather than the Grants Stack workstream.

One caveat: in order to empower external developers to work on our core app, we will need to make some changes to the architecture and development environment for our current product. We anticipate planning and kicking this work off in S20. In the event this is not successful or completed on time, I do not want to starve the current team of resources during a crucial adoption period and have budgeted for an additional engineering hire (could also be an external/short-term contractor) in S21. I’ll plan to provide an update on this at the end of S20 and will revise the request if it’s not needed at that time.

Amount

Grants Stack is requesting $345,868 for S20, excluding reserves and rolled over amounts. Our requested spend is lower than our budgeted spend due to carryover from the previous season. We have an estimated $315k in carryover, of which $182k is carryover reserves, $87k is due to GTC/USDC swaps, and $47k is due to actuals being lower than budget. GTC/USDC swaps are done on a regular basis for payroll and other expenses and are not carried out with the goal of increasing treasury balance.

Budget 2023.11 Budget 2023.12 Budget 2024.01 Total S20
Total GS Budgeted Spend 165,363 165,363 165,363 496,090
33% Reserves 165,363
Past Season Treasury Balance 315,585
Total S20 Request 345,868

Budget evolution

S18 (actuals) S19 (projected actuals) S20 (requested) S21 (requested)
Grants Stack Budget $884,238 $498,097 $496,090 $541,090

Budget Breakdown

Grants Stack is staffed by the following team:

Core contributors (8):

  • Engineering lead (1)
  • Engineers (4)
  • Engineer (TBH. Salary budgeted for S21 only, will evaluate need before hiring.)
  • Product designer (1)
  • Product manager (1)
  • Product/workstream lead (1)

Part-time or shared contributors (3):

  • Support (2)
  • Operations (1)

Our cost breakdown is as follows:

S18 (Actual Spend) S19 (Projected Actuals) S20 (Requested) S21 (Requested)
Contributor Salaries $602,530 $421,949 $386,324 $431,324
Contracting (Dev Ops, GTM incentives, design) $228,618 $57,000 $48,000 $48,000
OpEx (Software subscriptions, gas, audits, travel, professional development) $53,089 $66,086 $61,766 $61,766
Total $884,238 $498,097 $496,090 $541,090

Closing thoughts

The past two seasons have been a great learning experience for the team. We’re emerging as a stronger team and are building the consistency, speed, and rigor that are hallmarks of a high-performing team – plus embracing all of the craziness that is building in crypto.

We have a product vision and strategy that we’re excited about and confident in. We are moving from beta to adoption to revenue generation and have a forecasted path to breakeven in ~2 years (will be shared publicly as pricing is firmed up.) None of it is easy, but it’s all winnable. LFG.

11 Likes

It’s been great to see the growth of the QF rounds and the strong interest in Direct Grants. I’m a yes for this budget. Good work on managing the reserves so well in the last season!

3 Likes

Thanks for the breakdown and updates @meglister! I continue to be blown away by the GS team. I am incredibly impressed by all the team has accomplished since the June launch! Here are some :tulip::rose::sunflower::hibiscus::blossom: for you and the team.

The only question I have is regarding the goal of 5 paid rounds. I am wondering how this paid model will work, are there additional features or other services that these rounds are paying for? In the future will there be a fee for all rounds run on GS? I know you linked to the longer 2 yr vision and other docs which I haven’t dug into yet. Let me know if this is already outlined elsewhere.

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Thank you for the flowers – sending some back to you! :sunflower:

Re: paid rounds, great question! We will introduce a product fee on the grants funding (whether QF matching pool on DG direct payments). This fee will likely be between 5-10% – we are still gathering data and feedback on this for DG. Service fees, like KYC or round management, would apply on top of the product fee, as we aim to charge appropriately for the value created for clients.

We believe pricing is an important part of our growth – we want to reinvest in the product’s future growth, and better optimize towards the value we’re creating for our grants managers, builders, and communities. (There’s no PMF on a free product!) That said, we don’t want it to be a blocker to usage and will look for ways to make this non-onerous for smaller rounds or organizations.

I love seeing the progress that’s happening with Grants Stack — kudos to the team. I’m supportive of this budget :white_check_mark:

1 Like

I may have missed this, but what is DG? I couldn’t find a definition with ctrl-f. I’m new to the forum. I do know what QF is though! (Quadratic Funding). BTW thanks for writing this proposal. Can’t say I understand it fully yet, but I like the thoroughness.

Thanks!

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Sorry about that! DG stands for Direct Grants. We use this term to refer to a popular mechanism for grants funding distribution, where a single grants manager (or small committee/council) disburse funds directly to recipients.

Happy to answer any questions about the proposal too, or chat more! You can find me on discord @catjam__ . And I just granted you (and anyone else with the link) viewership permissions on all the linked docs, apologies that wasn’t already set!

Glad to see the accomplishments in QF and self-serve rounds! Kudos!

  • As there are competitors in the market for Direct Grants, are there any specific strategies to differentiate this offering?
  • With adoption growing, are there any plans to add contributors for ‘Customer success’ to the team?
1 Like

hey @jengajojo thanks for reading and great questions!

Absolutely! We’re focused on two pillars for Direct Grants this season:

  • Solidifying the product and workflows: creating a bug-free experience and seamless workflows for the most common direct grants needs. We’ve heard that a few grants programs have churned from competitive products due to lack of stability, so this will be our first priority.
  • A strategic focus on connecting grants programs with the best builders for their needs, leveraging the network of 3k+ grantees that Gitcoin has funded over the years as a competitive advantage. Easy workflows (above) are nice, but ultimately grants programs will be as successful as the builders they fund. We’re exploring ways to get started here that include skill & project attestations, application scoring, and more.

You can read more about our product strategy here and the 2 year vision here

You’ll read more on this soon :tm:, but the PGF team is in the process of reconfiguring some roles on their team to align with the growth of our products. I’m so excited to be working closely with the team led by @Sov and grateful to @koday for stepping into a Customer Success role for our Grants Stack customers!

3 Likes

Am supportive of this budget and I’m really grateful for the work that @meglister put into the strategic docs that this budget is based on. Really excited to see this project gain adoption!

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I too am supportive of this budget, especially as sights are set on revenue generation. I also appreciate that sights are being set on leveraging external community to build with/on Grants Stack rather than hiring more internally. Looking forward to seeing how this plays out.

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Fully supportive of this budget!

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I just wrote a longish post for Passport - and I need to save some gas for Allo - but I’m supportive of this budget request and plan to vote yes.

I’ll offer some brief feedback in a format that Jared from Subway would approve of:

  • I love how this team has had its ear to the community and the fact that self-serve rounds are gathering steam is testament to this. I imagine there’s still some handholding required to onboard newer ecosystems, but it’s unbelievable to compare the state of things today vs just a few seasons ago!
  • The roadmap and product vision talk about discoverability improvements as if this were a feature request but IMHO this is the name of the game. As there are more rounds and rounds get bigger, I find myself getting less discerning about what I support. It really feels like a popularity contest. How many users who visit the explorer page are actually clicking through and discovering projects vs scanning the grid and quickly checking off familiar projects? How much traffic is coming from links on groupchats that say “please please please fund my project” vs actual in-app discovery? We all love how quick (and cheap) the checkout experience is, but is this making us lazy voters? I don’t have a solution to propose but I think some deep thinking is required to find something that is 10X better and not just 10% better. (I know some new features are about to ship … I hope to be proven wrong!)
  • I think it’s great that this team is rolling out new grant mechanisms and experimenting with pricing strategies. The adoption over the last two seasons is very compelling and the aggressive growth forecasts for the next two are even more compelling.
3 Likes

thanks @ccerv1 – appreciate your support and feedback! the kind words really don’t hurt, either :slight_smile:

Really appreciate the call out about our engagement w community. It’s been a big focus for us and I’m glad to see it both paying off in our internal efforts and recognized!

Your comment around discoverability brings up a bigger meta issue…
1 You’re totally right about the importance of discoverability wrt Gitcoin Grants rounds, which use Quadratic Funding
2 At the same time, self-serve QF rounds have not reached nearly the size of GG rounds, and this is not a pain point for them
3 We’ve also experienced a much faster rate of growth in direct grants adoption and the BD pipeline for direct grants vs QF. Since June (5 months) we’ve run 8 QF rounds, and ~5 of them were funded by Gitcoin or @owocki . Since 10/2, we’ve launched 3 direct grants rounds, have about 10 more in the pipeline, and 0 of them are funded by Gitcoin/Owocki.
4 Given all of the above, it’s really challenging for me to figure out how/why to prioritize things that are needed by the Gitcoin Grants program but do not immediately benefit self-serve QF and are not applicable to direct grants. We do have some new features coming out for discoverability for GG19 which I’m hoping are helpful, but my approach has been a bit of “hedging bets” – trying to make things serviceable for GG to keep the community happy while being able to keep resources/progress in other areas where we see more growth. (And as product people know, hedging bets is generally not a healthy approach when we’re trying to grow in the early stages!)

Would be happy to chat more and very open to feedback on this approach and priorities.

5 Likes

It’s been great to watch this team grow and continue to push adoption for Grants Stack. The goals outlined here are ambitious and I’m excited to support this proposal!

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This is now live on Snapshot – please vote!

3 Likes

I am excited about the future of Grants Stack and I will be voting yes on this proposal.

4 Likes

This snapshot has closed and option 1 “Yes ” has won.

The full text for the option was: Voting “Yes” to fund the Grants Stack Workstream for $1,037,180 for S20-21.

Metrics:
2,848 unique votes
~6.4M GTC tokens cast.

Thank you to the author for the proposal and to all the stewards and GTC token holders who cast their vote.

https://snapshot.org/#/gitcoindao.eth/proposal/0xa1a72e2ba121b6d7cc1507f1b9e4b5fc7c36b7afd52357552c5e06526b4e0f53

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I (owocki.eth) am a member of the Gitcoin WalletGuard. :shield::shield::shield:

I’ve verified that the code on the tally proposal matches the intent of the proposal.

If you are interested in joining the Gitcoin WalletGuard click here.

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I (jonruth.eth) am a member of the Gitcoin WalletGuard. :shield::shield::shield:

I’ve verified that the code on this proposal matches the intent of the proposal.

If you are interested in joining the Gitcoin WalletGuard click here.

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