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

Thank you so much for all the work that all of Gitcoin DAO and the remarkable work you do, and thank you for the thoughtful responses that have already come,

Whatever is decided, zooming out from this first era, the work you have done will be seen as so consequential!

I tend to agree that cancelling GR16 at short notice would put many projects in a difficult position and would negatively impact Gitcoin’s reputation; a narrowed scope of GR16 (option 2) sounds like the most pragmatic way forward but only if it will provide the space and rest required for the work to be done in the future.

I wonder if a more public (Twitter) conversation could take place, with some Twitter spaces and polls to explain and include the community in this conversation.

I think it’s also fair that the Gitcoin DAO make the decision regardless of public opinion; you are the people that have to put in countless hours of work, you know the system and the work to be done better than anybody on the outside, I trust that the core DAO members will have their heart and head in the right place whichever decision is made.

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Catching up here after a couple weeks out and wanted to say how great is that we’re having this conversation in public. Thank you @J9leger

After reading this post, I became tentatively supportive of Option 1 because I think it’s better to focus on nailing the next version of Grants instead of being pulled in the other direction so hard it slows progress.

However my biggest concern, shared by many others I see posting, is that not having a GR16 in December will upset the financial runway of projects relying on Gitcoin. But I wasn’t sure how many projects actually rely on Gitcoin as a consistent and significant source of quarterly funding. There is intense variability among the over 1k+ grantees we get each round. I took a look at the data from the last year (rounds 12 to 15) to see if I could answer: how many grantees raise at least $X thousand from gitcoin every round?

Over 5K every round: 18
Over 10K every round: 12
Over 20K every round: 6
Over 50K every round: 2

Of the grantees who raised at least 5k in every round during the last year, the average total yearly raised was $206k and the median was $190k. There is great variability from round to round with one grantee going from raising over 400k in one round to less than 10k the next. This is why the average is so high despite these being a small number of grants raised over 50k every round.

These results indicate there is a small, but important, number of grantees who do rely on Gitcoin as a somewhat steady and significant source of funding.

These grantees are significant and (by virtue of their QF results) well-liked members of our community. However, this does not consider what other funding sources these projects may have. Still, I think it could erode trust we have built over time with Grantees (and their supporters) if we were to rug them by not holding any round without greater advance warning.

I also asked: how many grantees raised over 5k in X of the last 4 rounds?

3 or more of 4 rounds: 56 (Average Yearly Fund: 136k, Median: 113k)
2 or more of 4 rounds: 141 (Average Yearly Fund: 86k, Median: 53k)

After seeing these results, my suggestion would be in-line with what others raised above about an Option 3: hold a single, stream-lined, and curated round during GR16. I would include only grantees who have raised at least 5k in 2 of the last 4 rounds. This smaller pool of grantees who have already been vetted will significantly reduce resource strain as they should not require reviews.

There is also a question underlying these results but tangential to this conversation: Why does funding change so much from round to round for some grantees? can/should we enable more consistent funding? The variability experienced by grantees is significant although it still allows them to raise large sums over time.

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Great points @umarkhaneth. Thanks for sharing and thanks for digging up the numbers for context. One further thing to consider is the location of projects. I suspect many of the projects raising what seems like smaller amounts to us in North America or western Europe may in fact be critical amounts of funding for projects in the global south.

That being said I do think its possible for us to find a middle path that allows projects a way forward through Gitcoin running a smaller round in January on the new platform as well as bounties and other ways to get involved and potentially earn some funding as we are in the midst of this transition.

Its fabulous to see so many thoughtful and detailed responses to this thread. Its an honour to work with you and everyone else on this team.

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Hey all! Has a decision been made on this topic?

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Thank you for the response. Complaints are definitely not the primary reason we’re rethinking GR16. There will always be complainers and complaints are good - they help us build something better for all. The primary reason for this discussion is to ensure a successful launch of the protocol. By running the c-grants platform, we’re not focusing on building and launching to help our community and other communities easily scale in the future.

Appreciate the suggestions!

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Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard from many of you on the forum and others through personal outreach (even in person in Bogota). I’m going to synthesize feedback into one response.

First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who helped us arrive at this decision. Your feedback is invaluable and we’ll have a stronger decision because of it. This discussion proves the value of building in public and how collective input can get to better decision making.

After connecting with many of you, we’ve recognized there is ultimately more than an option 1 or 2, there is an option 3. We believe this option better aligns with the majority of responses and intend to move this to a DAO-wide vote as a Y/N decision. If this vote is successful, we will begin preparing for a protocol-driven, streamlined and tightly-scoped GR16.

GR16 Option 3

Gitcoin will run a streamlined alpha round on the protocol in mid-January 2023 for our oldest running rounds: Open Source Software, Ethereum Infrastructure, and Climate.

Each round will run with a subset of existing grantees to ensure those that rely on us for funding and have helped make a significant impact in the ecosystem continue receiving support (refer to @umarkhaneth analysis above for more details on data about our grantees), that we have the capacity to provide support during the transition, and that we are able to work with the community to intentionally receive feedback and build out operational services to support scaling future rounds soon.

This option takes into account the desire to run a streamlined round in GR16, not lose momentum, and ensure when we launch at scale in early Q2, 2023 on the protocol that it is more stable and reliable for grantees, both technically and operationally.

In addition we will be running a number of design partner rounds between now and the full protocol launch in early Q2, 2023 that will provide both partners and grantees with opportunities to engage with our grants protocol.

While we’re always optimizing for impact, it’s sometimes important to make short term trade-offs - progress is not often linear. Rather than run a sub-par GR16 on c-grants or risk going too big too soon with the protocol, we’ve opted to make tradeoffs to ensure long term growth and sustainability for Gitcoin Grants, our partners and our grantees. We’re optimistic that this approach will help hundreds of additional communities fund their shared needs, and thousands of new grantees get the sustainable funding they need. Stay tuned for more details and communications about next steps.

Additional Summary of Findings

In the interest of full transparency, here are some of the key points from the community:

Gitcoin grantees survey responses suggest we should prioritize the protocol transition

40 grantees responded to a survey that went out to all GR15 grantees about what they wanted to see for GR16 and majority would be supportive of the option we’re positioning (see data from responses below).

To the question: “How would you react if we shifted GR16 to focus on a successful protocol launch in Q1, 2023 instead?”

  • 51% said they would prefer if you ran a small round with only a few key causes in GR16 and delayed the protocol launch

  • 23% would be excited about and support the prioritization around the protocol

  • 8% said they would be upset and leave the Gitcoin community if we don’t run GR16

  • 18% said they were not sure

Summary of differing opinions and how the option detailed above addresses these perspectives

Keep the current format until we’re sure of protocol stability

Some expressed reasonable concerns and cautionary anecdotes about leaving the current c-grants platform too soon. We’re cautiously optimistic, but want to make consistent, reliable, and incremental progress.

Run something streamlined vs nothing at all

It is clear that the majority would like us to run a round in GR16 to continue supporting our core community and not lose momentum, all while realizing the risk of potential protocol delays. Many recognize the tension between running a round on c-grants and how that pulls us in a different direction to where our priorities lie: successfully bringing a new version of grants to life.

Run all or no grant rounds for GR16

A few of you suggested that we would impact the community if we did a selective round and should either do the full round or nothing at all. We believe in concavity – the best policy decisions are often somewhere in the middle. In addition, we are hard at work putting in plan an approach to support our extended grantee community even if it isn’t in the traditional grants round capacity.

Don’t run a grants round and spend the time focusing on protocol launch

Similarly, there were a few people who suggested going with option 1, to ensure our focus was on the potential future benefits to new grantees and not existing ones. We believe this approach allows us to take care of both.

Run a round with community support

We appreciate the few cause round grantees who volunteered to involve the community to help run GR16. It’s hard to solicit help for the centralized platform. When we launch the protocol, we’ll be able to decentralize grant rounds further and look to our community to help us run rounds and make a larger impact than we could with just a small internal team. We’re excited to get to start bringing this future to life and involve more of our community in our program design.


Once again, I can’t thank you all enough for your engagement in this discussion and your feedback. We’re excited to keep building the future of funding communities shared needs with all of you.

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I really enjoy the way you write and articulate how you reached specific decisions.

As I already wrote above I was okay with either result so for the vote that is now open I am going to vote FOR as there is no option for a multiple choice vote :slight_smile:

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Very clear summation of options. I voted for the proposal.

That said, as per my original post, I think shutting off the grants round to jump into the future was risky for reasons that we didn’t understand completely; otherwise - these reasons wouldn’t have been risks.

I hope we work to learn more to derisk our transition, for eg focusing on:

  • protocol delivery - although we currently have experienced and motivated engineers and product folks in Gitcoin afaik the team is saying the process has not converged yet, for eg points are not predictive; i.e. we cannot look at history to predict when code will be delivered on time and on quality
  • community-centric self-adoption - DevRel isn’t something that can easily be bolted onto an organization that has a somewhat insular culture & that is relatively unfamiliar with being self-adopted by technical users
  • GTC utility and value - at some point the ongoing decline in the value of GTC could impact our ability to execute our transition or pivot

Organizations grow in value in large part IMO by identifying & addressing risks to their success. We have all the ingredients to address these and other risks and opportunities. Hopefully, we can use some of the breathing room gained by this proposal to build a more solid foundation.

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Huge thanks to @J9leger for spearheading this discussion, and to the community for engaging in such a thoughtful, constructive manner. As the product lead for the Grants Protocol (and formerly of the cGrants platform), I have spent the better part of a year deep in the weeds of both tech stacks and firmly believe that this option presents our best path forward. I love that this enables us to provide funding our most dedicated grantees, while also giving us an opportunity to learn and continue building the protocol alongside the community.

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Hi @J9leger

Thank you very much for your summary!
There are some questions from the community as following:

  • Are there main round or ecosystem round in GR13?
  • What are the oldest rounds: Open Source Software, Ethereum Infrastructure, and Climate?
  • a subset of existing grantees? how to choose the subset?

looking forward to see more clear description for the option3.
thanks again!

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Love the third option. As long as the team that is actually doing the work supports this option, I support it too!

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This discussion is fascinating on how is it unfolding. It shares the care community stewards put into making the best decision possible.

I have one concern. Is money the only data input to be considered? Why should 5 K be the bottom line for vetting a project is trustworthy?

There are projects that have participated in at least 3 rounds but may not have raised that much due to different factors such as the Polygon network having problems, or not having the traction that others had due to its marketing strategies, influencers, and so on.

What about those projects that are relying on GR and that are in an early stage? If these projects do not have the chance to participate they most likely will be killed.

My suggestion is: Take the number of rounds participating and the promised delivered value of the project. These factors are way more important than raised money to distinguish those projects that are building public good from those not.

Excited to see the decentralized platform happening. It will enable new ways of funding the commons. Also, looking forward to Option 3 hopefully considering my suggestion.

Blessings to all, and thanks for the great work you’ve put into making QF and the social movement of GR.

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This is a really good point, it would be great to have an edge case solution where projects that have been part of at least the last 2 rounds can apply to be included if they are excluded… honestly there will be lots of projects that will demand a way in and there should be some sort of way to include the ones that really were counting on this funding, so its not just nepotism and squeaky wheels that get their projects included at the last minute.

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Its moved to a snapshot vote this week Snapshot

Lets talk soon about how best to involve the ReFiDAO community.

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We’ve been talking about having some grants that would drip to a group of related projects so that we can deal with the needs of running the alpha rounds and still include grantees in some meaningful way.

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As a new Steward here :v: and in support of Option 1. Leaning in on the fact that we should support the focus of becoming a decentralized protocol and program as stated in the recap. I agree that while this is a hard decision to make, overall it will lead us to the North Star which is the future success of Gitcoin. Thank you to @J9leger for the recap and also for providing the context on the Ideal State Vision and going into detail where we are today. I am very impressed with this robust discussion and it reflects all aspects of Gitcoins values, a big shout out to the Gitcoin team.

I do agree that messaging will be key in all of this no matter what the final outcome is. The MMM team indeed has a monumental task ahead of them in launching the Grants Protocol successfully. All eyes are on Gitcoin, and this should be handled with kid gloves.

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I’m going to vote for the proposal as well. The sooner to the new paradigm, the better.

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Agree with this, launching the new protocol with a splash and great set of first core and cause rounds in Q1 sounds great.

One thing I haven’t fully understood yet is how the user experience for donors would be different within the new protocol. I think one of the biggest values of Gitcoin is having a quarterly schelling point for the community to donate easily in one go to a range of initiatives, including cause rounds.

In my opinion, it’s important that the user experience is maintained and that all rounds run at the same time, with all donations being collected in one basket… cc @kevin.olsen @J9leger

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Thanks Vincent. This is a great point to raise, and probably deserves it’s own post around the structure of GR17 and beyond. In GR15 and before, we have seen that there are pretty strong clusters (preferences expressed in donor behavior) between certain rounds, but not a lot of overlap with others. You’re right that cause rounds see a lot of cross-donation, but this doesn’t play out in the data across the whole of the Gitcoin Grants program.

This is an active discussion in the DAO on how to balance the value of Gitcoin Grants Rounds as a Schelling-point with the ops burden (and the degraded user experience) of running so many rounds in parallel.

One concept I’m bullish on is reframing our program as a Grants Season with cross-community clusters running concurrently, but not necessarily all clusters of rounds in the program running on the same schedule. Beyond helping to reduce the ops burden needed to support dozens of parallel rounds. This will help us target our outreach and messaging to different audiences, allow for tuning the levels of sybil and fraud prevention for different communities, and provide a hypothetical benefit of values-coherent communities driving better fund allocation through their participation in QF round-clusters.

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So many valuable insights shared already

I want to upregulate @climateXcrypto’s information here. Grant funding has been ESSENTIAL to Regens Unite. I’m already terrified about the potential for disruption thinking about a major upgrade.

There will be disruptions mind you. I get that right now fixing the stuff that breaks feels like a waste of time, and you’d much rather fix the stuff that breaks in the new version.

First principle of the Agile Manifesto:
Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer
through early and continuous delivery
of valuable software.

I appreciate the desire to get new functionality out there, and would encourage an incremental approach as much as possible. For example, I love the suggestion of requiring the passport.

This might seem like I’m big-timing, but I’ve been doing product development and agile coaching in lots of contexts for quite some time. I’d be happy to help lift the coordination on the process side.

My last point is around the information of @umarkhaneth this is deceptive information. As many have mentioned, $5 does not spend the same everywhere. The global south will be impacted more even thought in monetary terms it looks like they rely less. Is there a way to sort on location or ad that consideration to your 5⭐️ analysts.

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