[Request for feedback] Proposed Future for the Grant Programs and GR16 as we Transition to the Protocol

Request for Review of the Proposed Future for the Grant Programs and GR16 as we Transition to the Protocol

Reference: Future of the grants program, Gitcoin Protocol Launch Event and Gitcoin Brand Evolution

I’d like to call out fellow DAO contributors @connor @lthrift @nategosselin @ceresstation @kevin.olsen @Viriya who co-wrote and/or deeply contributed much of this thinking. I’d also like to call out all 23 contributors from all our workstreams in the DAO that participated in our cross-workstream GR16 planning workshop.

TL;DR

We’re currently at a pivotal point in the Gitcoin Grants journey as we determine how to best transition from the centralized grants program to the grants protocol in a way that scales up our ability to help our communities fund their shared needs.

We would love your reflection and thoughts around this key transition decision. We believe that it is in the best interests of our community to let our program take a breath in S16 so that we can fully prepare for our grants protocol future. Specifically, we propose that we do not run GR16 in December and use the bandwidth to prepare the protocol launch in Q1 2023. If you’re opposed to this suggestion, our other consideration is running GR16 in December in a smaller / more manageable capacity.

The core Grants team has explored several options for this transition period (see full exploration details below) and we believe that this pause is our best option. If the community agrees with this recommendation, the PGF, MMM, FDD and Support team would all shift focus immediately to prioritize our exciting future Gitcoin Grants program and support our partners’ programs transition to our decentralized and permissionless protocol. We would ideally launch the new Gitcoin Grants Program in Q1, 2023 and begin transitioning our partner’s programs onto the protocol at the same time. This would be an exciting step for Gitcoin to make sure we’re building a strong foundation as we start the next step of our journey as a DAO.

If you are opposed to this suggestion, an alternate option is running GR16 Dec 1-15, 2022 on C-Grants with a narrowed scope that would only include rounds focused on core Gitcoin community themes. These would likely include rounds for Open Source Software, Ethereum Infrastructure, ZKTech and cause rounds such as DeSci, Climate and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). We would start partnering with all other partners from rounds to transition to the protocol after GR16 is complete. This would not include a main round and would be set up this way to reduce the current friction associated with running such a complex grants program on the fragile C-grants platform. While this would mean that we continue with our typical quarterly cadence for GR16, we would likely need to refocus and delay the launch of our program on the protocol.

We ask our community to share their reactions to the suggestion of sunsetting c-grants and voice what they think is best for the future success of Gitcoin. When commenting please specify if you’re a Partner, Steward, Grantee, Donor or Gitcoin Contributor.

Context and Details to Consider

Our Ideal Final State Vision

As a reminder, at a high level we aspire to provide the mechanisms to help communities – whether they be DAOs, companies, countries, cities, not-for-profits, groups of friends – fund their collective needs in the way that is right for them. Our ambition with this new protocol & program delineation is to be able to accomplish this vision on a much larger scale, funding tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars in shared needs through a permissionless and decentralized system.

The first post about the future of the grants program summarized the history of the program, our current state, key aspirations for the future and the three key elements to make our next phase for Gitcoin Grants successful. We aligned on the idea that in order to achieve this aspiration, the future state will have three major components - the Protocol, the Gitcoin Grants Program and Grants Services.

  • The Protocol: A Decentralized and Permissionless Platform to run Fully Independent Grant Programs

    • For communities that do not require any service and minimal support, they can run a grants program on the protocol on their own. There will still be a small team focused on partner grant program success (in onboarding partners) and call center style support
  • Gitcoin Grants Program

    • A major event that happens on a regular basis (i.e. quarterly) in which GTC holders select N# of causes they wish to fund to have an impact
      • This means there is no single “main round” but instead a main event with a set number of impact areas, voted on by the community, with their own eligibility criteria. Initially we will start this as four key areas the community cares about supporting but could grow this as we see fit to help achieve the largest impact as Gitcoin, with support from the community, while helping drive protocol interest.
  • Grants “Services”

    • We will provide services to ecosystem grant programs running on the protocol. These may be fully supported rounds, a tiered offering or an “a la carte” menu from our list of supported services (marketing, FDD, operations as a service).
    • We would manage how we scale up our services model based on demand.
    • Note: Partners are still welcome to manage their own programs or use a 3rd party provider, so the GitcoinDAO services capacity is not a limiting factor to growth

Where We are Today

Gitcoin Grants has prioritized running quarterly grants rounds and scaling GMV. We’ve been mostly successful and have grown round over round since inception although declining in recent rounds. However we’ve increased program complexity with adding new rounds to our program every round. The GR15 program consisted of a general main round, four cause rounds (climate round, crypto advocacy, DEI and DeSci) and 12 ecosystem rounds (for projects that want to fund growth in their specific ecosystem). We run all these rounds together in a two week period once a quarter. The current process, scale, complexity and lack of product updates (due to our product teams focus on developing the protocol), is under significant strain.

The current scalability challenges and complexity of the c-grants program are unnecessarily creating an unpleasant experience for grantees, donors, partners and our Gitcoin contributors / team. These program challenges span across:

  • The number of rounds we run in a two week period
  • When we open and close the grantee application period
  • Our manual grantee review process
  • Increasing fraud and sybil attacks
  • The speed of our round cadence
  • The fragility of and tech debt in our legacy centralized product (c-grants)

In order to transition to the protocol successfully, it’s critical for us to build a better decentralized grants program that alleviates some of these challenges, while achieving the protocol objectives: a decentralized grants protocol that scales our overall impact both as Gitcoin Grants and as a broader community to fund our shared needs.

As Gitcoin, we have to make a hard decision around the most strategic way to sunset the C-grants product and transition to the Gitcoin Grants Protocol in a way that prioritizes a successful transition to the protocol and a positive experience for our key stakeholders.

Considerations for GR16

After many internal conversations around this complex and nuanced decision and a broader team retrospective with a representative from every workstream (23 individuals in attendance) of what GR16 should look like, we aligned on two main options (mentioned above and shared again below). In the activity we outlined risks and benefits of both options for you to review as a way to inform or reflect your own perspective.

Option 1:

Sunset C-grants and focus our team on launching our program on the protocol in Q1, 2023. We would do this while working with partners to help launch their programs on the protocol late Q1 and Q2, 2023. Note, with this option, this does not exclude the opportunity to have partners donate to existing Gitcoin grants in December if we feel strongly about supporting our top grants on the same regular cadence. Whatever we do in this decision, we’d ideally like to focus on still delivering value to grantees and partners, while prioritizing our team’s time around launching the protocol.

Option 2:

Run GR16 Dec 1-15, 2022 on C-Grants with a narrowed scope that would only include rounds focused on core Gitcoin community themes. This would not include a main round. While this would mean that we continue with our typical quarterly cadence for GR16, we would have to revisit the turn around time to transition to the protocol.

Below are summaries of all the risks and benefits contributors shared during our workshops that helped inform our broader decision:

Option 1: Sunset C-Grants and Launch our Gitcoin Program on the Protocol in Q1

Risks

The main risk to consider is that the protocol is still not fully ready by a program launch event at the end of February/ March. If we end up pushing back our program further because of delays, we may lose credibility with a lot of our community.

Risk factors to our stakeholders

  • Grantees
    • Grantees will be upset that GR16 is not happening as some projects depend on our funding
    • Uncertainty and changes to the program may create panic
    • Gitcoin may lose some grantees because of changing the cadence
    • Gitcoin is concerned that GR15 wasn’t enough of a goodbye round
  • Donors
    • Donors have become used to our quarterly cadence and we may lose some if we transition to the protocol a few months delayed
    • December is a key time for donations
  • Partners
    • Partners may be upset about rounds they wanted to run this quarter and have pre-paid for (note there may still be the opportunity to donate to specific grants partners would still like to support)
    • We may lose some funders in the transition
  • Stewards
    • Stewards may wonder if Gitcoin will lose momentum if we don’t run GR16 in December
  • Gitcoin Internal / Contributors
    • There is increased risk of the product team moving too fast to deliver and as a result have many more bugs and issues
    • Support will have a lot of questions about why there is not a round that they will have to manage

Benefits

The main benefit of sunsetting c-grants is that our team can fully focus on defining the strategy and begin executing around how we transition the Gitcoin program and our partners to the protocol. In addition we can spend time including our community in voting on how we decentralize our grants program and causes to focus our funding efforts around.

Benefits to our stakeholders

  • Grantees
    • Grantees can start learning about the protocol and have enough time to get up to speed and reopen their grants on the protocol vs being rushed between rounds
    • Grantees won’t have to go through the current c-grants process again, including the manual and broken grant review process, which caused a lot of frustration and backlash in GR15
  • Donors
    • Donors can start learning about the protocol and how to fund on the protocol through our smaller design partner rounds before participating in our program round
    • This break could relieve donor fatigue
  • Partners
    • Partners can get some breathing room and will have the potential to be more organized around how they run rounds with us in a decentralized fashion
    • Partners will no longer have to navigate the challenging review process and instead will get to experience the protocol review process.
    • Partners would receive more attention from the Gitcoin team in their transition, so while decreasing the number of grants funded in December, we will hopefully help partners build a higher quality grants program on the protocol
    • Partners can build out the programs they want to build out vs run them how Gitcoin expects them to
  • Stewards
    • Stewards will rally around our focus on becoming a decentralized protocol and program
  • Gitcoin Internal / Contributors
    • All contributors involved in running the c-grants will avoid wasted hours and attention on c-grants, a platform that will not be used again
    • The team will have increased focus on the grants protocol / program launch
    • We will be able to really reflect on the current program structure and have time to create a real strategy around the future, test it properly and develop our services offering while partnering with partners to transition effectively
    • The internal team can be focused on mapping out talent needs to thrive on the protocol without burning out and dealing with more attrition of highly talented team members who are frustrated with the current platform and dealing with burnout
    • The team can be invested in bridging grantees from c-grants to the grants protocol will take time and energy

Option 2: Run a small GR16 C-grants round

Risks to our stakeholders

  • Grantees
    • We will receive backlash for running a smaller round and that it’s seen as us losing momentum vs reprioritizing
    • There will be limited improvement around grant review timelines, support help and fraud review
    • Many projects will receive less funding and look elsewhere for funding
    • If our team runs the round, we will not be able to think about and invest in how we structure the protocol launch and future until mid-Q1 2023
  • Donors
    • Donors doubt Gitcoin’s stability and ability to scale given the fragility of the c-grants platform (especially with the number of times the site goes down)
    • Lose engagement from donors
  • Partners
    • Partners might really want to run a round or have already committed to running a round that we turn down
    • The size of the round will still interrupt momentum of recurring rounds for all ecosystem partners
    • We would have to pick specific partners, which may come across as if we are picking favorites
  • Stewards
    • Stewards will be concerned about running a smaller round while also not being fully ready to transition to the protocol
  • Gitcoin Internal / Contributors
    • The C-grants platform requires immense effort to run in its current state and even running a smaller round will likely require the same if not more effort due to communicating changes all to still communicate the change to the protocol the following round, improving / changing the review process etc. all to abandon it after
    • We will see burnout between the shorter timeline between GR15 and GR16 and the increased need to support with both the program and the protocol development
    • The current rounds take the full attention of PGF Partnerships, Grant Ops and MMM for 6-8 weeks, FDD works close to 24/7 during the round and product needs to help resolve a lot of bugs and issues with the product during the round, when we need them focused on developing the protocol
    • The team will not be able to transition focus to any work on the protocol until mid-Jan. This includes supporting the protocol and investing in the strategy and execution of transitioning to the protocol, building out the program strategy and services for the protocol.

Benefits

  • Grantees
    • Grantees may find it easier to understand what rounds we are running because it is more focused
    • This shift alludes to where our future state program vision might be
  • Donors
    • Donors will find it easier to donate because there will be fewer grants and the rounds will be more defined
  • Partners
    • Will appreciate that they are supporting core building for the ecosystem during a bear market
  • Stewards
    • Stewards will appreciate that we’re still making an effort to run rounds and support public goods
  • Gitcoin Internal / Contributors
    • The team can work on making the round more manageable between now and December

Based on the above risks and benefits, and the exciting future we’re moving toward, internally we’re leaning toward fully refocusing our time on a successful protocol launch in Q1 and not running a round in December. However, we recognize that this decision does not come without trade-offs and a significant investment of time over the next few months to make this a success.

Helping us weigh in on which of these options is of critical value, and we want to hear from as many people as possible. We appreciate your reactions, thoughts and ideas to help us inform our final decision. Once a healthy dialog has occurred here, we hope to crystalize the result with a snapshot vote.

23 Likes

Thank you, @J9leger for this thorough recap. The Gitcoin DAO team has spent an immense amount of time going deep and wide on this decision and considering all the nuances and complexities of the best next move. I have appreciated the strong leadership and commitment from across the team on this topic.

As a workstream lead of the Gitcoin Product Collective (GPC) and the former VP of Product at Gitcoin Holdings where the protocol was incepted, I’m very supportive of the organization sunsetting the centralized grants program and spending a short season focused on the transition to full decentralization. The protocols are now in closed beta and ready for active testing through production use. This means we are at the point of being ready to execute on any unique features for the Gitcoin Grants program and begin scaling up adoption.

While we have been collaborating cross-functionally over the last several months of design and implementation, all the other workstreams have had a main focus quarter over quarter on running the next centralized grants round. Having the full focus of the rest of the DAO (marketing, PGF ops, support, FDD) on the design and implementation of a large scale, decentralized grants program is critical to our collective long term success.

I couldn’t be more bullish on the future of more effectively allocating capital and enabling communities to fund their shared needs. Let’s make this turn together!

13 Likes

Thanks for this writeup Janine, and the team for all the really thougtful work that has gone into this. As a Gitcoin Contributor and Steward (and Donor although I’m not sure if my quarterly $100 donations count lol), I lean towards directing our efforts to ensuring the Grants Protocol, the product that the entire DAO is now aligned towards building with the ratified Purpose and Essential Intents, gets all the attention it needs.

However I share the main fear identified by this group that going full-tilt on Option 1 could have detrimental impacts on the community’s perception of Gitcoin and the excitement + momentum we build during each Grants Round. Six months (or potentially longer) is a very long time in this ecosystem, and as a team we need more time (and capacity) to re-jig our engagement and marketing + education efforts, which are currently mainly focused on the Grants Program, towards the Grants Protocol. The one thing that Gitcoin decidedly does better than other grants programs in the ecosystem is the hype that our Grants Rounds generate (and this is no doubt due to the massive effort made by the team during these rounds). I believe six months is enough time for both our brand to lose that central place it holds in web3 as well as competitors to catch up in terms of narrative/product.
And there’s no point focusing our efforts in developing a product that people aren’t excited about. It’d be one thing if we were starting from scratch in terms of community buy-in, but to lose this credibility after all the work we’ve done to build it would be a huge loss.

My suggestion would be to meet somewhere in the middle of even these two options (even though Option 2 is sort of offered as a “middle option”). Over the next few months, we will have a better-defined engagement and product marketing strategy geared towards the Protocol, and having a small Grants Round as scheduled could be the buffer we need to maintain momentum. Option 2 as offered still includes six rounds - what if we just had 2-3 of the most popular of these options (OSS, Climate)? I think our Partners will be more understanding if their rounds end up getting delayed due to this (they run on longer timeframes and don’t lose interest as quickly), but users (donors/grantees) may be less forgiving - running a small GR16 can help provent a complete collapsing of narrative/interest.

Whatever direction we choose, I fully believe in this team’s ability to deliver a fantastic product. I know this because we already have one, and I’d like us to make sure we give it the thoughtful farewell that it deserves.

9 Likes

I agree on the central thesis of this post. The protocol is launching, cGrants is more hurtful than helpful, and we need a transition plan that best prepares us for the launch of the protocol.

I do not like option 1 at all. A decision to not do any grants round, especially without doing one for the Ethereum ecosystem, is a decision which means people getting laid off before Christmas across the ecosystem. There are projects that live and die by our quarterly cadence. I can’t support surprising them with only 2 months notice.

I do think there is an option that could get the best of both worlds. Perhaps even more limited than your option 2.

One round, only those which fit the main round criteria.

We would need to clearly define the QPQ, token, and other policy items, but the learning would be priceless. Additionally, the Ethereum ecosystem would continue receiving their quarterly support.

I’d push to say the long held Ethereum/OSS norms for inclusion in this round rather than all public goods. Maybe two rounds where grants must choose between the Ethereum/OSS round or all public goods round?

If you accept my reasoning for having a round or two as a must, then let’s think about why my suggestion would be different than your option 2.

  • Only 1 or 2 rounds
  • We close applications 1 week before the round starts
  • No change to manual review process
  • No change to speed of round
  • Avoid using the things that have the biggest issues

Reduced complexity saves time spent reviewing grants

The one or two round option makes it a much cleaner review process which doesn’t involve the many ecosystem and cause round owners!

Unique learning opportunity

We don’t have any study on the effect of having so many rounds which impact each others matching pool. It would be extremely useful to see what happens when all the rounds are in one (or two but mutually exclusive) pool(s).

Potential to run more parts on the Protocol

Perhaps there is an opportunity to run more parts on the protocol to progressively test it as we have with Passport.

12 Likes

There’s a helpful harm construct in contract law called detrimental reliance.

Just the construct here. Not applying the construct to contract law, since that’s out of scope here.

The important insight is individual reliance, and how that relates to community responsibility. Precedent/convention, expected patterns of repeated generosity are important factors.

To put this ethics another way far from a ‘liabilities’ narrative, say you feed the birds so long that they forget how to hunt. Then you stop feeding the birds all of a sudden. The birds might starve to death before they remember how to hunt. Or their population has grown so large from your free food that there’s not enough food they can hunt to feed their expanded population size. If you plan to feed them again, how long can each bird starve before starving to death?

I suspect the projects that have already quarter-after-quarter received material grant distributions from Gitcoin might incur a dramatic shock if they too severely miss a quarter’s anticipated cash flow. This is more likely given the depressed market in general.

1) With more notice time of cancelled or materially changed GR16, the more chance community projects will properly decide their Q4-2022/Q1-2023 costs and not accidentally overspend.

=> Mitigate risk of insolvency caused by community projects expecting a reasonable range of capital in Q4 2022 from GR16, based on their GR15, GR14, GR13 track record.

2) I suggest still running GR16 but only offer it to existing grants that have received at least X amount of donations.

=> Lower GitcoinDAO’s administrative overhead a lot while managing the Web3 community cash-flow “detrimental reliance” ethical concerns as much as possible.

:robot: :heart:

5 Likes

Thank you for the excellent write-up.

This is a bet the DAO type of decision - if we decide to burn the boats today to shift to our protocol future.

I have been involved in companies shifting from SaaS and more or less proprietary approaches to software delivery to one based on community adoption. In my experience it is always more difficult than anticipated; done right, this shift impacts almost everyone and all activities. I believe this shift towards community adoption of grants protocol ++ poses a risk to us at least as significant as the risk expressed in the write-up of whether our grants protocol launch will immediately hit PMF and sufficient stability at 1.0. For instance, I’m somewhat tangentially exposed to our efforts to potentially build a DevRel motion and while I’m likely missing a lot of effort that has occurred and not been publicized yet - I think we inevitably have quite a ways to go to shift teams around and onboard them and so on, to get developer docs & a community going, and much more including cultural shifts.

Net/net I don’t think we fully appreciate how large a transition this is; if we do, it might make sense to publicize what that plan would look like to transform the DAO to be focused on the community self-adoption of Grants protocol as it would impact nearly everyone in the DAO and others in the community. If we don’t have that plan yet then we may not be quite ready to decide to bet on that plan.

We have incredible talent in the DAO and people emerge from the broader web3 world all the time looking to help. We can and will make a transition to a protocols future grounded on community self-adoption - in time.

Finally, I like the suggestion from @DisruptionJoe to focus on the open-source aspects of our grant rounds. We could then use this round as a means to further cement ties to developers, who are becoming our key persona as we shift to the protocol future.

5 Likes

Updated: Given Ive been out of town for a week I know I missed a fair amount of discussion of this. Im down to work together to make things work regardless ofcourse, this was just my initial reaction to the idea.

I believe a stripped down version of the grants round on the existing platform for a round or two is the best way to go.

The cause rounds all have very active communities that can increasingly be involved in running these rounds as we transition to protocol. It would be a real shame to lose momentum with this work and also slow down our partnerships conversations.

Unless we think we will be ready to roll things out early in the new year at the latest I think we need to ride it till the wheels fall off with what we still have. To continue the metaphor that would mean slowing down and being careful to maximize the chances things wont break down.

It would be great if we could do a small intake of any new grantees for only 4 rounds before the round starts. Which would mean mid November.

DEI, DeSci, Climate and MainRound. Sounds good to me.

8 Likes

Thanks for raising this important topic to the community, @J9leger. I think this thread is an important discussion for our community as whole to engage with, and I hope we are also exploring how to extend the reach of this post to meaningfully engage our grantees, partners, and donors to validate some of the risks and benefits mapped out above so that we are not setting strategy in a vacuum.

It can’t be overstated the massive team effort required to run our program on cGrants. In GR15, contributors worked very long hours each day to review and approve grants, answer support questions, and troubleshoot/fix bugs that arose on the platform. That’s on top of all of the work that went into onboarding new grantees and donors, creating support documentation for our knowledge base, and socializing the grants round. Essentially, for four weeks (the 2 weeks before the grants round and the 2 week of) these teams slow all other work to focus on making GR15 as successful as possible. I wonder what it would be like if instead all these contributors were focused wholly on preparing for the protocol launch.

But as tempting as Option 1 is, ultimately, I think it’s a bit risky when we have the option and opportunity to socialize the future state of our grants program in a much smaller, more manageable GR16.

My main concern in pursuing Option 2 is a failure to message all changes early, which has the potential to be doubly damaging to our brand, with the teams involved failing to prepare our community for the launch and failing to serve our grantees and partners meaningfully on cGrants. Ultimately, this risk is manageable with the development of a robust engagement strategy as a core component of any planning effort.

As an important player in the ecosystem, it’s the DAO’s responsibility to handle changes like this with care. Engaging and over-communicating will be a necessary component of the transformative future state we’re building.

5 Likes

couldnt agree more about the need to over communicate this.

making this decision relatively quickly and decisively will be important.

3 Likes

Thanks for the response Saf and for sharing your concerns. To share some context on your concerns. We will be running design partner rounds on the protocol before we transition over the program so there will still be momentum and excitement around programs on the protocol.

Six months (or potentially longer) is a very long time in this ecosystem, and as a team we need more time (and capacity) to re-jig our engagement and marketing + education efforts, which are currently mainly focused on the Grants Program, towards the Grants Protocol.

I’m unclear about this sentence. The reason we would be refocusing our energy on launching the protocol is due to the necessity of prioritizing our time around marketing + education efforts, engaging the community in choosing what areas of focus we prioritize to fund as the program and more. This wouldn’t mean going silent for 6 months, it would mean engaging our community of grantees, donors and funders around the transition to the protocol. During this time we’d also be prioritizing delivering something that our community would be excited about.

what if we just had 2-3 of the most popular of these options (OSS, Climate)? I think our Partners will be more understanding if their rounds end up getting delayed due to this (they run on longer timeframes and don’t lose interest as quickly), but users (donors/grantees) may be less forgiving - running a small GR16 can help provent a complete collapsing of narrative/interest.

To this point, running any round will still require a similar investment in effort as a the option 2 suggested, taking time and energy from the transition to delivering the protocol faster and potentially cause more upset grantees for the many that wouldn’t be in the round.

4 Likes

Thanks for the thoughtful suggestion here Joe.

A decision to not do any grants round, especially without doing one for the Ethereum ecosystem, is a decision which means people getting laid off before Christmas across the ecosystem. There are projects that live and die by our quarterly cadence. I can’t support surprising them with only 2 months notice.

Thanks for sharing your concerns. I think it important to look at some data analysis here. Less than 200 grantees from the previous round received above $5K and only 105 received more than $10K. It’s unclear to me how many projects solely rely on Gitcoin to fund their contributors salaries given the volatility around match amount round after round.

Option 1 also doesn’t negate the opportunity to still fund a small number of existing grantees in the time we would have run GR16.

  • We close applications 1 week before the round starts
  • No change to manual review process

If we ran GR16, not changing the manual review process feels extremely detrimental to our community given how painful this process was for grantees, funders and our team. Not to mention the huge number of sybil attacks and fraud we saw and almost let fall through the cracks this season due to this manual process.

Perhaps there is an opportunity to run more parts on the protocol to progressively test it as we have with Passport.

There is 100 percent an opportunity to run rounds with design partners on the protocol in the interim and should be where we are prioritizing our time.

Appreciate your thoughtful perspective Joe and your hope to see something happen to support our core community of grantees in GR16.

5 Likes

Thank @J9leger for your summary!
From my Steward perspective, what I mostly am concerned is the development progress, so based on @lthrift updates, I strongly support Option 1.

Suggest to update the Option 1 with timeframe like “Sunset CGrants by the end of … and Launch …”

From the risks, I’d focus on the risks from Grantees and Partners!

If we still keep the current grant review process with limited improvement, what’s the benefit for the grantees with the new grant platform?

I am not convinced by the following points if I was a grantee.

Are these benefits for the partners? I cannot get them.

All in all, it seems really challenging for both options.
so my last question is

do we have the 3rd option?

2 Likes

Coming from the perspective of the WS Lead at MMM, I am in support of option 1.

As mentioned before, the cost of marketing a smaller round vs. a larger rounds will require the same lift from the MMM team in terms of assets developed, coordination efforts, etc.

It costs MMM an estimated $150,000 to run the marketing efforts of a Grants Round. This includes:

  • PT Ecosystem round coordinator
  • PT Cause round coordinator
  • Art direction + asset design and development
  • Content development (for blog and social media)
  • Strategic oversight
  • Operations oversight
  • Analytics analysis during and post-grants round
  • Social media monitoring and support

There are about 10 people who are on the MMM team that will be diverting our attention from the Protocol launch to promoting the grants round. Note: this also does not include the cost of PGF Grassroots efforts around Twitter Spaces (running 3x per week, which is no small task).

What I would prefer to see is our efforts redirected toward our maximizing:

  1. the impact of our protocol launch AND
  2. a deep dive into impact reporting

We have monumental task ahead of us to launch the Grants Protocol successfully. From a well thought-out content strategy to a fulsome communication & public relations plan, and creating an impact report + repository of success stories to determining a marketing services launch plan, MMM has its work cut out for itself. Promoting a Grants Round in December will serve mostly as a distraction for our team.

By not running a Grants Round and focusing on our Protocols Launch (and all its associated activities), MMM is poised to request around $50,000-$75,000 less in budget in S16.


On a separate note, I think above all our #1 goal as a DAO is to get the Grants Protocol launched ASAP. If we think from this first principle, our goal should be to support the GPC team in every way possible to get this thing shipped. By running ANYTHING on cgrants, we distract them from this goal and jeopardize the success of Gitcoin regardless of the risks of not running a Grants Round in December. This is why, once again, I am in support of Option 1.

Other options I would consider:

  • Running a small grants round ON the Grants Protocol prior to our intended launch in S17
  • Doing minimal marketing and promotions during a GR16, which allows the MMM team to focus resources and efforts on the Protocol launch
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Thank you for this fantastic writeup @J9leger, it summarizes in such a transparent way the risks and benefits we see in the various approaches. I have read up on most responses and although I understand the strain option 2 will continue to put on the team, I share the concerns expressed by @safder, @DisruptionJoe, @Jodi_GitcoinDAO and others, as well expressed by @bestape:

I do understand that this will indeed still require a similar investment in effort as the previous rounds, but hope we can mitigate this a bit by more efficiently allocating resources for this upcoming season, through cross-workstream collaboration, to lighten the burden on PGF, specifically by MMM taking over more tasks (already on the way) and FDD helping out wherever necessary. From the side of DAOops (speaking as a WS lead) I hope we can also support here by lowering any ‘overhead’ by extra meetings that can currently be seen as a distraction in these times of hyperfocus on the launch. (as also discussed live)

I definitely like the idea by Joe and echoes by others to focus on OSS and a very minimal approach. I also really like this suggestion to limit new grant creations for this upcoming round as expressed by @bestape, which could further free up resources on FDD’s side but no idea if this is practically and technically feasible.

In any case, I will fully support whatever the team decides, and once again, inspired by all the progress that has been made over the past few months, and the transparency in decision making. Would love for more Stewards - especially Stewards not active in the DAO - to chime in here.

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This was meant only in context to having one or two mutually exclusive rounds. This would eliminate all the complexity of tags and the dependencies on round managers & external partners which are normally needed for side round decisions.

Overall, I hope you get the feedback you need, the community feels heard, and PGF is empowered to make the decision as owners of the program accountability.

I’m very torn because as much as I’d like to see at least one round, I think it is much more important that this decision is made by the operators who are closest to the problem, PGF.

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I believe it is essential for Gitcoin to maintain our current momentum and the community’s confidence and we should proceed with smaller rounds in December.

I support @DisruptionJoe with the suggestion of running at least one round for those who closely fit the main round criteria.

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This is a really tough call. As highlighted above every option has its risks.

After considering all the factors, I vote that we pursue option 1.

A big factor that has me leaning towards option 1 is that every time we run another round on the buggy & fragile c grants platform we lose legitimacy in the community and frustrate a lot of our users/community. I realize we also run the risk of losing even more legitimacy if we choose option 1 and fail to deliver. However, I believe our current team can deliver if we focus all of our attention and energy on getting the grants protocol launched.

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Really appreciate the transparent and detailed summary highlighting the pros/cons/logistical needs of each option @J9leger. As someone directly involved w/ the funding conversations w/ partners, I foresee a loss of credibility if we were to announce dropping GR16 completely w/ minimal advance warning.

Would hate to see our hard-earned goodwill to tank from rugging our main offering; regardless of grantees financials truly rely on our funding, Gitcoin’s grants program is our bread and butter QoQ and its absence in Q4 will certainly be noticed.

I think there are a couple more ways we can reduce the friction from running/transitioning Cgrants to the Protocol:

  • Reducing our focus to 3-4 top performing relevant cause rounds to maintain our level of QoQ consistency
    • No main round, no ecosystem round–apart from our select Design Partner trials
    • Selected PGF cause round leads to focus on GR16, while the PGF contributors who normally focus on a round that wasn’t selected can focus on the Protocol transition
  • Reducing time window for grant applications to mid November
  • Reducing the # of new grant applicants we accept, prioritizing returning quality grantees–also increasing funding for high-value/signaled projects
  • Finally: wondering how large of a lift it would be involve Passport usage into GR16 Cgrants to bolster sybil resistance?
    • Not talking product integration for Cgrants–can imagine running an Excel matching formula on a spreadsheet to cross reference verified Passport users w/ grant applicants by November X could suffice to knock out low-effort attacks, while giving us decent time to review the remaining.
    • Give audience a heads up that w/ increased sybil attacks–grant applicants must also have verified Passport
    • Not as decentralized as people imagine us to be–but free money simply can’t be handed out this easily without trust, and reasonable people should understand.

From PGF’s conversations, I’ve observed that funders are more excited over our cause rounds that relate to their interests/pillars, because it shows how closely Gitcoin is listening, while supposedly benefitting their business. Although funders recognize the impressive legacy of our main round & are impressed by our early successful grantees–as the Ethereum ecosystem currently stands–it’s extremely saturated at this point w/ even the Merge not creating much effect in this market. My conclusion is less people are building on Eth, and money is going towards specific interests/niches and other chains. Although Main Round is easiest to verify tags, I think a few specific Cause Rounds are the way to go here, axing Main and Ecosystem during GR16.

Not many orgs offer what we offer so consistently, and the potential complaints about the reduced funds/focus can be countered pretty easily by revisiting our Vision of “empowering communities to fund their shared needs.” Although it doesn’t feel very empowering to reduce rounds, raise requirements, and tighten deadlines, it’s even less empowering to rely on a manual, centralized system that can lose grant money to sybil attackers. Like any good public infrastructure, systems are generally forced to temporarily restrict access to make improvements, like roads and operating systems.

Regardless of what we decide, I foresee pushback any way we do it. But rugging GR16 100% worries me about people’s belief in Gitcoin, which will reflect in our token price lol. Humans hate change, even when it’s good for them, so imo the best thing we can do is preparing our counters / documentation / explainer threads to remind them that what we are doing is still extremely true to Gitcoin’s founding vision.

TLDR; Reduce rounds from 7+ main/eco/cause to ~3 top cause. Move grantee application cutoff date in November, increase barrier to entry for safety. Ensure we have materials revisiting our original Vision prepared to counter potential dissent. Allow Cause Round leads for selected upcoming cause rounds focus on GR16, while allowing rest of team to focus on Protocol transition.

PS: Definitely talking very theoretically–only joined Gitcoin a couple months ago so GR15 was my first round here. Please take my words with a pinch of salt.

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Huge thanks to @J9leger and to everyone that participated in all the heavy work done here. I’m sure this is not an easy task. Just by reading all the comments I can honestly say I feel overwhelmed by the energy and strategic discussions that are taking place in this post.

If all the workstreams focus on preparing the best possible version of G2.0 I’m sure it will help a lot in retrospective. I’m only an initiative lead, but my personal feeling is that there are a lot of areas that require more DAO wide coordination to ensure an optimal protocol launch.

Because examples always help: mandatory twitter verification always helps and it could help “block” a large percentage of “bad actors”. I know that this is optional and up to the round owners to decide => we could create guides/tutorials/articles on how to “Create the best possible rounds from a GPG, PG, FDD perspective and also based on historical facts”

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I honestly believe the policy should be changed or more clearly defined and we should all be very open to evolution(my self included…I got stuck reviewing grants because we got so many of em…that wasn’t my intent when I joined the DAO).

Almost all of of the grants that were involved in malicious activities were caught before the payouts(just like previous seasons and ~ 250k was saved- not talking about the ring connor spotted, but about grant investigations, which end after the round).This round the grant investigations which I’ve started in season 13 delivered just like every round even if we’ve had a huge workload to handle during the rounds because of platform/main round eligibility

I feel that what was never understond about the manual reviews was that by decentralizing grant reviews we actually leveraged the collective intelligence of our community even if at a small scale, even if they are manual.

The difficult part is that without clearer policy or a “different review system” (which no one currently has a solution 4 and which will not 100% prevent bad actors) we couldn’t deny grants that are just the same as the others before the round begins. After the GR15 begun they sybil attack and engage in all kind of clearly extractive and malicious activities which cannot be prevented by the review process without creating a large amount of double standards and basically making a bad name for Gitcoin.

We are working towards the protocol future though and a small round in GR16 would make a lot of sense. I love @DisruptionJoe 's view on running a two round GR16 which would allow everyone to learn more while preserving the ethos of Gitcoin.

In my POV not running a round will clearly kill the “hype” around Gitcoin and after personally talking with over 1000 grant creators myself I think that I have a real sense of what people want from Gitcoin and they want funding, excitement and to continue buidling.

In the end I’m sure the best option will be chosen in the end because I trust the DAOs collective brain power :brain: :robot: Congratulations everyone!

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