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

This is a phenomenal discussion and makes a lot of our implicit protocol transition much more explicit – thanks so much @J9leger and team for the thoughtfulness and clarity put into this writeup.

Initially, I was very much pro-Option 1 – put our money where our mouth is, and go all-in protocol.

But as I read through the responses and think through things further, a couple things strike me that push me to try and get a bit creative here. The two main consideration points making me doubt my initial support for Option 1 are:

  • @juanna’s point on timeframe here - the round is less than two months away; if we’ve already set expectatations with lots of funders that GR16 is happening, rugging it completely does feel a bit late.
  • My further thinking on timing, and your callout of the main risk under Option 1 – that even with a pause (Option 1), the protocol is still not ready and we lose further credibility. Now through January just may not be enough time to move the needle on protocol advancement, even with 100% focus.

As a result, I would propose an “Option 3”: Run a “Main Round Only” GR16 and GR17.

Based on my experience running grants programs over the past year, my finger-in-the-air assessment is that this would reduce operational complexity by about 80% vs. running our usual rounds. There’s still work to be done – but it’s much more manageable from every angle (CLR setup, policy, grant review, marketing, payouts… all of it).

Adding any sort of cause or ecosystem rounds - even if it’s just two or three - substantially increases complexity and distracts from focus. So, personally, I would err towards setting the expectation now that we run two really bare bones rounds that are still the Gitcoin Grants everyone knows & loves on the familiar quarterly cadence, keeping the program alive but giving the team the next six months to focus on protocol in a much more dedicated fashion.

This would probably require an interim re-definition of the “Main Round” and what’s in for these two special rounds in GR16 & GR17 (IMO, it should be pretty broad and include all the archteypes of ecosystem/cause round grantees that have been on the platform prior).

Pros of my Option 3 proposal:

  • Maintains familiar quarterly cadence, grantees still get funding
  • ~80% less work than status quo (And six months of this ‘downtime’ vs. three)
  • A new opportunity to test quadratic funding in its purest form in the context of just a main round - how do all the climate, DeSci, etc. grantees that we’ve garnered in the last couple rounds now stack up funding-wise in absence of dedicated rounds?

Cons of my Option 3 proposal:

  • This still kind of sucks for any funders who were hoping to fund a specific cause or ecosystem round for GR16/GR17 - and, TBD if we could even fundraise sufficiently to make this work (would require a re-framing of expectations/offerings with partners, but I think it’s doable)
  • Doesn’t give the team the 100% protocol focus that Option 1 gives

Lastly, I will say that if a proposal like the Option 3 I’ve outlined isn’t workable or worth considering for whatever reason, my strong support would be for Option 1 over Option 2. I really think we’re kidding ourselves if we think we can run any form of Ecosystem/Cause Rounds and ramp up the focus on the protocol to where it needs to be.

5 Likes

Hey @J9leger thank you for the very detailed post.

I have had some talks about this with gitcoin team members here in Bogota and also gave it some thought.

As a long time grantee with rotki I would of course want there to be a GR16 on December as for us and other opensource projects which rely on gitcoin to function, quarterly repetition is key for our revenue.

On the other hand I am a gitcoin steward and a developer and I do know that being pulled in two directions as a team (both trying to do GR16 and launch v2) you end up doing nothing. So I do realize there is a need for you guys to focus on delivering v2 and that should be a top priority.

So though it would hurt the project I work on I believe it would be the best choice to give the gitcoin product team the time needed to focus so they can deliver a polished v2 version that we can all use properly.

TL;DR: I think Option 1 is good as long as v2 comes out nice, polished and ready to use by the community.

4 Likes

After reading more responses, I realized that it is NOT enough with only option 1 and option 2.
It’s because

  1. it harms our grantees with option 1 - the grantees cannot get funds from GR16.
  2. it harms GitcoinDAO team (PGF, GPC, MMM, FDD etc workstreams) with option 2 - limited talent people are focusing to launch gitcoin protocol and program.

So I would like to propose an option 3, which is similar (refined) with @annika

Gitcoin could have a minimal GR16 with only main round, and without new grantees in GR16.

Why I would like to have minimal GR16?

  1. for the grantees who depend on the funds from Gitcoin, it is a disaster.
  2. once we break the season GR, could the community trust us ?

So I strongly suggest to have GR16, but with the minimal efforts. I am not the expert in PGF or GPC, but I’d like to invite the core members from different workstreams, to re-consider how to coordinate together to have GR16 successful.

If we don’t have chance to have new options, I still support option 1 over option 2.

3 Likes

I’m 51% vs 49% on this.
Couple of thoughts, in favour of Option 1:

  1. Communicate clearly with the community that GR16 will be skipped, and why it would be skipped.
  2. Highlight the advantages of a protocol future to both grantees and donors.
  3. Acknowledge that for some projects this might be make or break, and consider setting aside some money from the treasury to assist in the form of e.g. a loan. (concern around administrative overhead)
  4. Market the dates of GR17 in advance to reassure the community that this is part of our much needed transition.
6 Likes

Hello Gitcoin Heroes. Fascinating reading through these thought processes and nuanced potentials. You are a remarkable team! I 100% agree with @ZER8 " ZER8

BEGIN QUOTE

20h

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."

END QUOTE

Wondered if it’s OK/helpful to weigh in here as a first-time Gitcoin grantee for GR15 (DeSci & Climate) ?

If not, plz ignore. If so, here goes…

I am SUPER EXCITED about the prospect of Gitcoin Program on the Protocol. I would like to officially request my place in line as a partner (FrontierDAO) as I already have plans to run one of these QFs.

They are an amazing magic formula. The fact that you are open sourcing this and sharing it with the rest of the world in an even bigger way is truly admirable. That Non-profits, DAOs, cities and even states can use this QF formula for fundraising could, in all truth, really disrupt how fundraising and esp. crowdfunding is perceived and how it helps grassroots communities. Disruption for Public Good LoL.

So, while selfishly I am all in on GR16 should you run a smaller round that includes DeSci and CS, I thoroughly understand how much of a toll this must take on the team. It is a massive effort, no doubt about it. Plus, it is end of year holidays. And there is much to be said for regeneration and rejuvenation, something we don’t get much of here in Web3 world.

As for denting the Gitcoin brand. As a noobie to Gitcoin, I recognize you have die-hard loyalists so none of us (I’m already a loyalist, in such awe of what you guys have accomplished!) a 3- 6 month break won’t harm your brand. If it turns into a year, people might start to question…

As a professional in different spaces (comms, Science, Engineering, NGOs, public-private partnerships, etc.) I have made several attempts to communicate about QF to diverse groups. And am realizing it is something that needs to be experienced before it is thoroughly understood. People understand Crowdfunding, but until you have watched your 100 donations of 1 DAI each mushroom into a few $KK, it’s not something that is readily intuitive for most of us who are ‘scarcity economics’ conditioned, rather than ‘abundance economics’ conditioned.

That said, whatever you choose as a DAO community will be in ultimate service to the rest of us. So I believe you will have the full support from the ecosystem whatever choice ends up being the best/ most wellness-serving, for you.

And last thought (a bit of a shill) if you could use or want some help on the PR about your Gitcoin Program on the Protocol, I’d love to work with you on that. This is truly a magic wand of grassroots funding that you are gifting to people/the world. It will be very important that people understand its potential, its value and its use cases. On that note, it would be fun to hear this (above) conversation on a Twitter Spaces. At present, this development of Gitcoin Protocol is just being whispered about in Discord DAO communities. So it could be fascinating to hear you guys actually hash it out on a Spaces. Always good to hear the human side of things, in my mind…

Thank you
Namaste
You are all Heroes!

4 Likes

I think all of us on the Gitcoin team wish more participants engaged with us on important decisions. Thanks for being here and for the effort you put into a thoughtful response.

5 Likes

This carries its own complexity and tradeoffs, but has anyone from the workstreams reached out to the clr.fund folks to see if they might be able to step up into the December void if GR16 is slimmed down or delayed?

They’re GTC grant recipients and obviously value-aligned. Their MACI infrastructure has its own scale/network/operational limitations (I believe), but they could help soften the blow for the subset of established grantees dependent on QF coming in December.

This would be an awesome display of regen coordination too.

7 Likes

Hey!

There is no alternative to the gitcoin platform, and the best proof - even with all the bugs people are using it. For sure the current platform is far from being perfect yet it works.

With the new version new bugs will be introduced as well and people would complain as well.

So if the only reason to cancel GR16 is complains – I would suggest not to stop and conduct GR16 on a current platform.

Regarding the new projects:

  1. Probably a deadline for new projects on GR16 could be set like 3 weeks before the start. It’ll give a review team more time while would allow new grantees that learnt about gitcoin at GR15 to participate.

  2. Probably community of existing grantees could help with initial review and on boarding of new projects.

For example a community of grantees of DEI/Impact/DeSci/Open gaming projects exists in Telegram and we could help with such a projects, maybe other grantees from other rounds could be interested as well

Actually I was among the compainers. The only real thing that I’ve missed as a grantee - a feedback about my form to add DeSci project. It could be overcome with:

  1. Automatic email
  2. Help of communities with status updates
2 Likes

As a Gitcoin grantee, I want to express my deep appreciation for every single person here. Ya’ll have been an incredible gift. Thank you :pray:t3:

Gitcoin has made it possible for me and many others I know to work full-time on using web3 to address climate change, biodiversity collapse and social injustice.

Thanks to @M0nkeyFl0wer and Jon Ruth for bringing this topic to my attention! Happy to chime in.


Postponing GR16 to focus on launching a decentralized version of the protocol in Q1 / Q2 would pose some major challenges to the 300+ projects in our community. Also, as many have mentioned, would create risks for Gitcoin as well. From my experience, shipping production-grade software always takes 2-3x longer than expected, and complex systems are best evolved incrementally over time.

Sunsetting legacy software systems is also best done incrementally over time. Turning the lights out all at once can have major unintended consequences.

Yes, cGrants has a painful UX, and requires significant human resources from the Gitcoin community. I sense a lot of users have complained recently and that’s adding an additional burden.

But the question is: Would grantees rather have UX pain with funding? OR no UX pain and no funding? :thinking:

I’m sure the community would accept the UX pain and rally behind the human-resource intensive tasks if it meant they could still get funding.

The reality is the platform works and it’s being used at scale. Gitcoin just ratified an incredible $4.3M of funding to over 1000 projects. A disruption to the quarterly rhythm would hurt early-stage projects, and communities with lower income and founders from the global south, the same people who are getting hit worst by all the problems we feel so drawn to solve…

At an individual level: there are several founders I’ve recruited personally from communities with low-income who are planning to participate in GR16 that would be negatively affected by a major delay.

My proposal would be to incrementally sunset the centralized grants platform across GR16 and GR17 with a clear roadmap of what aspects are being phased out over a 6-9 month period. Make the announcement early and give the community time. Run a few events across timezones to make sure the info gets out far and wide.

A possible roadmap could be:

  1. Run GR16 in December (a main round and three cause rounds (Climate, DeSci, DEI))
  2. Open a short window of grant applications in November for both GR16 and GR17 (mark a hard line)
  3. Invite partners who are interested in running Grants Protocol instances to onboard contributors for vetting these applications
  4. Run GR17 in late Q1 / Q2 2023 with no new grant applications and no new user accounts.
  5. During GR17 spin out 1-2 rounds under the grants protocol for any new applications or any new donors.

You could plan to have GR17 happen 4 or 5 months after GR16 to buy a bit of extra time as well. If people know well in advance, it’s less of a reputationchallenge.

Regarding the resourcing, I don’t know all the details but here are some thoughts:

a. Can you turn off any functionality that’s causing bugs and drawing engineers away from Grants Protocol?
b. Can you significantly reduce marketing for GR16? (let your community do it for you)
c. Can Gitcoin Passport become a requirement?
d. Can you make ‘donate to matching pool’ default to drive more funding and easy partnerships burden?
e. Can users donate to a Gitcoin Grants Protocol grant to drive more funding?
f. Can we run a campaign to onboard more grant reviewers and fraud detectors? (ReFi DAO and several other ReFi communities would be keen to help, I’m sure)

Above all, I think the communications piece is the most important one to get right:

a. Post a tweet from with a poll of the options available
b. Link to this post and invite further conversation
c. Set a final deadline for making a decision on GR16
d. Create a public roadmap for rolling out Grants Protocol & sunsetting cGrants

For background:

We’ve been building an entire ecosystem on top of Gitcoin’s quarterly grant rounds assuming this quarterly cadence will continue (as it has done for almost 4 years). We have invested significant resources in recruiting founders, mentors and investors to make the most of GR16 with a special focus on DEIJ as the heart of regeneration.

We’re also building a ReFi Passport on top of Gitcoin Passport to create a coordination layer for planet positive behaviors on-chain.

Our plan is to support 80-100 founders across climate, DEI and DeSci rounds in an 8-week program leading up to GR16. We’d like to donate $7k to the DEI match funding pool to give back and enable diverse founders to experience the power of quadratic funding.

That being said, we’d support any decision the Gitcoin community made and want to partner long-term to fund public goods and scale climate solutions with inclusion at heart.

Big :heart: to Gitcoin devs, stewards, volunteers and everyone who makes this QF magic possible. It really is magic. :magic_wand:

7 Likes

Do that works best for everyone. I would like to see Gitcoin Platform 2.0 and happy to help where i can. My vote would be towards sunsetting on current platform.

3 Likes

Speaking as a grant project representative, skipping what would be the next grant round in the rhythm so far would mean our team halts development for up to four months, and we support critical frontline climate repair work. I would imagine in particular for many of the small on-the-ground climate and DEI projects who don’t have other avenues of access to capital that this would have a negative impact on them.

3 Likes

Thank you for laying out the options and risk factors for the different stakeholders and all of the hard work that has gone behind the scenes regarding this.

I am a Gitcoin delegate. Personally what excited me when I initially joined as a delegate was Gitcoin’s role in helping public goods get funded. My preference is to still see a narrowed scope of GR16 happen (even if it means a more limited version of Option 2 as suggested by others where they could be an Option 3) since there are public good projects that depend on this funding and I feel has been/is an important part of Gitcoin’s role in the ecosystem.

6 Likes

Interesting Idea Graven. Thanks for sharing!

3 Likes

Hi, Shout out to the awesome folks at Gitcoin doing all the heavy lifting.

Being part of the Climate Round working group, I must acknowledge my bias towards continuity.

That being said - personally - having seen the immense help ( community more than money ) that every round generates, I would vote in favour of Option 2.

Thank you once again for having the community weigh in on this.

3 Likes

Thank you to all of the Gitcoin team! Not only is the grants platform a critical funding mechanism for public goods, but this is one of the most important communities in web3. The vibes, the heart, and the passion for public goods flow into the rest of crypto.

I am both a grantee and a grant reviewer on @M0nkeyFl0wer ‘s team. The funding from Gitcoin has helped me to work full-time in this space this year. It has also helped fund several solar projects in Uganda. I began working on Ben’s team between GR14 & GR15. Helping the cause rounds team gave me a new appreciation for all the work that goes into the grant rounds.

Canceling the round with only 6wks between now and GR16 would be a disaster. This will look bad to existing grantees and many who plan to submit grants (particularly in the DEI round). If this was the plan, it should have been communicated weeks, if not months, ago. I believe canceling will have a huge reputational impact on Gitcoin.

As noted in many of the comments, many projects depend on this funding. I fully respect the amount of work it will take to run GR16, and I understand the desire to push all of the DAO’s energy to the new platform, but there has to be a win-win, and canceling the round is not it.

As suggested by others, I would like to see a smaller round run with the main round and three cause rounds (climate, DeSci, DEI). I won’t speak for all of the cause rounds teams, but I, for one, am willing to work to help make this happen. I also agree with others that there be an early cutoff for grants and that the community can do most of the marketing to lower the burden on the core teams.

Regardless of the decision, I think it is essential to get the word out that this discussion is happening so that the wider community can comment and be heard before making a final decision.

6 Likes

I’d certainly be down to help coordinate this.

As you mentioned, clrfund / MACI does have some limitations in terms of scale. The primary limitation in this context is that it is capped at 125 recipients.

7 Likes

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.

10 Likes

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.

9 Likes

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.

9 Likes

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

4 Likes