Reflections from hosting our first round (Ma Earth / GG20)

Hi Gitcoin community,

While #GG20 is fresh, here are some reflections on Ma Earth’s experience hosting a round. We put up a matching pool of 35 ETH for 23 Regenerative Land Projects. This was our first time hosting a Gitcoin round.

  • Overall, the experience was great. The tools you’ve created are impressive, and I think they are really important and impactful. And they keep getting better.

  • I went through the “Round Managers Training Program” last year, which helped prepare me for operating the round. The training program was difficult to fully engage with from New Zealand timezones (recordings were crucial), but it successfully got me more confident with the Grants Manager interface. :+1:

  • Having a consistent person from the Gitcoin community to communicate with during GG20 was super helpful. At first I was reaching out to different folks for support, but it wasn’t clear who was best for what, and response times varied. Once I locked in with @MathildaDV things became a lot easier. It would be helpful for round operators to have clearer expectations upfront about how to get assistance from Gitcoin along the way.

  • We applied to be a community round, but weren’t chosen this time. The transparency of the process and thoughtful feedback afterwards was really top-notch. Importantly, it supported us in thinking through how to structure the application and communication process for our own applicants.

  • Over a third of the projects in Ma Earth’s round were completely new to web3. And given our focus on land projects, many of the donors were new to crypto as well. So we spent a lot of our time and energy around tutorials, tech support, walking people through wallets and bridging, etc. This was very much intentional and anticipated, as we believe/hope these communities will benefit from getting onchain.

What I observed during these onboarding processes is simply how difficult the wallet UX still is for most people. Especially anything related to layer 2’s (some common issues: not understanding bridging to begin with, confusing USDC.e with USDC, struggling to bridge out of Base, and confusing ARB with Arbitrum). These UX challenges seem well recognized in the crypto community, and are mostly outside of Gitcoin’s control. I’m optimistic things like smart wallets and fiat payment flows will make things smoother in the future. But clearly, Ethereum is not ready for mainstream adoption with the current wallets and L2 UX.

  • Another adoption issue is getting organizations (not just individuals) onboarded into exchanges. It seems easier to get individuals signed up on Coinbase and Kraken, but there are more AML/KYC hurdles for organizations, at least outside the US.

  • We set a $5 minimum for matching threshold, and decided to use the new COCM model as our strategy for sybil resistance. We disabled Passport, out of fear of creating additional hurdles for our non-web3 audience. The $5 minimum skewed our results more than I expected, as we still received a lot of ~$1 donations during the round. Presumably this has become a learned behavior from the Gitcoin donor community who are used to making ‘vonations’ of ~$1. I felt like the COCM model improved results effectively, though it felt a bit black box. Generally speaking, COCM made the outcomes better for our grantees newer to web3, and it appropriately ticked down the matching for a couple outliers.

  • My understanding is that Gitcoin is spinning out Passport and continuing to evolve these sybil-attack systems. Without knowing many details, this does seem like a good move. In the current GG20 incarnation, it almost feels like there are competing goals on Gitcoin around community crowdfunding versus web3 identity/fraud tools.

  • We benefitted from the guidance of @omniharmonic at OpenCivic and @jon-spark-eco at Climate Coordination Network. There is value in linking the round operators together, and I’m grateful for their support.

Some specific UX suggestions/ideas:

  • More prominent indication on checkout if the donor’s contribution won’t unlock matching for some reason.

  • We had set up our round for 30 ETH matching (~100k USD at the time). Then ETH’s price declined, so we decided to fund the contract with 35 ETH. The Grants Manager interface explicitly said we could add more. What confused/surprised me is that the extra 5 ETH didn’t filter through to the matching pool, and basically all signs of it ‘disappeared’ afterwards in the interface. I’m assuming we’ll be able to reclaim these funds after the waiting period, but would suggest some improved messaging on Grants Manager around this.

  • I understand this was a shared issue, but after the round was over we were stuck for about a week on distributing funds to grantees, as the interface wasn’t responding. More upfront/broadcast communication on this would’ve helped, as we were in the dark on what the issue was, and wasted cycles and nerves trying to get to the bottom of it. :grimacing:

  • The Gitcoin interface had some slight inconsistencies between the report card versus the “round stats” versus the CSV exports. The discrepancies were small and not enough to cause problems, but it’s just generally not a good feeling when numbers don’t match up.

  • We had non-crypto people helping us field initial applications. It would be great to be able to export these applications from the interface in a cleaner way. As it stands, I could only get the text out in CSV format, so our other panelists weren’t able to see all the images submitted by the applicants.

  • Probably a big ask, but it would be nice to have more real-time visibility into incoming donations in the Grants Manager interface. In particular, I could imagine donors having the optional ability to include their Twitter handles or email addresses with their contributions, and there being an easier way to give thanks/acknowledgements to donors. I think it’d increase sharing overall, and importantly, give projects a better opportunity to express their gratitude to those donors.

  • When projects share their Explorer links on Twitter, the current preview is just a generic thumbnail and text. Given there are already logos/banners added to the project profiles, maybe those graphics could be included in the metadata to make the UX on Twitter more appealing and unique. Same for the round pages.

Okay those are the main points that come to mind, hope they’re helpful. I’ll do a separate write-up for the Ma Earth community with tips for any other funders who might be considering running a QF round on Gitcoin in the future. I’ll add a link to the comments below when that’s done.

Also, we’d love to hear your feedback, and suggestions for how we build in the future! Quick survey here, would really appreciate your takes: https://forms.gle/zyJwTfdvXWkpxb899

You’re all legends, keep up the amazing work, and thanks for helping allocate funds to the #regeneration.

Matthew Monahan
Ma Earth

Farcaster: @maearth and @mjm
Twitter: @maearthmedia and @matthewmutual

Round recap on:
Farcaster: Warpcast
Twitter: x.com
LinkedIn: Ma Earth on LinkedIn: Round Recap - Ma Earth Grants Round 1
Instagram: Ma Earth on Instagram: "Here's our Round Recap from Ma Earth's first grants round, quadratic funding for regenerative land projects. We'd love to hear your feedback about the round at this quick survey, and help us shape future efforts: https://forms.gle/zyJwTfdvXWkpxb899 Thank you to all the donors, land projects, Gitcoin, and many community weavers for supporting the #regeneration. ❤️ 🌎 @amazonheadwater @brave_earth_ @chateau_du_fey @regenfdn @koangainstitute @papawhakaritorito_trust @opencivics @arikiestate @silvi.earth @learningenvironmentnz @traditionaldreamfactory @wilburhotsprings @matthewmutual #FundWhatMatters #GG20"

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i would be interested in funding a tool to solve for fiat donations from non-crypto donations. @FeDeFiFoFum the base MVP would be just be somethig that feels more like traditional ecommerce. browse products => add to cart => checkout with credit card.

glad to hear you found it to be fruitful. ive gotten feedback from others that they’d like an option to bypass onchain-ness completely.

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Great feedback, I hope other round operators will follow suit and also share the hiccups they encountered in this way, this makes it very easy for the team to pick up key issues.

Some thoughts (just as a round operator, been running the gitcoin citizens rounds):

This is a really weird one - I hope you opened a support ticket for this one. We increased our matching during the round and it just showed up as it was supposed to in the interface.

Important points. I personally opened a ticket on the csv data not matching with grants dashboard. Next to this, I’ve noticed the average amounts of donation in the round stats dashboard have been wrong for more than a year now, in the csv that data is correct. Logged this bug a few times now.

So, during a round you can always add reviewers with their addresses, so they can see the full application in manager. I know how to do this by asking the team directly (you need to interact with the contract on etherscan) but actually do not know if there’s publicly available guidance for this. If not we prob we should create this.

Once you have added the reviewers they can check in manager and you can create a sheet for reviews, this is how we did this for round 2, as you can see here, feel free to steal this template. Or, you could use checker.gitcoin.co. Also not sure if this has been promoted publicly a lot just yet but it was a great tool to have it all automated, we could review in there, with a preview of the applocations and then share the public link with applicants, you can see this here for round 3. Note: again, you need to add reviewers on grants manager in order for them to access the applications.

Super helpful, also shared directly with @melissa, the designer on the grants stack team & will share with other round operators for inspiration.

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Here’s our write-up for funders who are considering Quadratic Funding: Ma Earth | Observations from Ma Earth’s first quadratic funding round

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