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August 29, 2022

Decentralizing Gitcoin Grants

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TL/DR The Gitcoin DAO is tasked with decentralizing Gitcoin Grants. The DAO created the Decentralize Gitcoin Workstream to make it so. The Workstream solicited decentralization proposals from ScopeLift and ChainSafe. Those proposals have been delivered, please read on for next steps.


  • The Gitcoin DAO is tasked with decentralizing Gitcoin Grants.
  • The DAO created the Decentralize Gitcoin Workstream to make it so.
  • The Workstream solicited decentralization proposals from ScopeLift and ChainSafe.
  • Those proposals have been delivered, please read on for next steps.


In May of 2021 Gitcoin released GTC in order to decentralize Gitcoin governance to our community. Much has already been written about why this is important, including in our announcement post, but in general we believe decentralization is the best way to fulfill our mission to build and fund the open web. By turning governance over to the community we increase Gitcoin’s legitimacy, getting not just consent but also administration from those we serve.

The launch of GTC simultaneously created a DAO with a treasury governed by Community Stewards. The DAO shares our mission and has the resources to empower the community to build for the public good. But part of their commission is to be inward looking, to create the systems and tools necessary for Gitcoin to decentralize. Of course, the process of decentralization is complicated, so the DAO created a special “Decentralize Gitcoin” Workstream to garner the human-power to make it so.

The first place the Decentralize Gitcoin Workstream will concentrate their efforts is Gitcoin Grants. Gitcoin has several live products users interact with, but Grants is our most powerful mechanism for funding public goods. Like all Gitcoin products, Grants is built like a Web2.5 app — somewhere in between centralized and decentralized. To give you an idea of what it looks like, Grants incorporates Web3 technologies like smart contracts, but it’s hosted in a centralized manner like a Web2 app.

What we’re looking to do is turn Grants into an open source protocol, one which anyone may fork and build on top of (dGrants). That way projects may benefit from using the Quadratic Funding algorithm and related technology to run their own grants programs. Users may freely create and fund grants without being censored. Once the Grants protocol is available projects may build their own UX and curation model on top of it as well, giving their communities a unique experience. The workstream will provide working reference implementations of a Grant Explorer UI and curation module which can be forked and modified if desired.

The Workstream’s workflow

Workstream Lead Philip Hutchins has proposed and is moving forward on the first phase of the decentralization process with the help of two expert organizations, ChainSafe and ScopeLift. On behalf of the DAO, Philip has contracted both organizations to submit design proposals for a fully decentralized Gitcoin Grants protocol.

As of the publication date of this post, both ChainSafe and ScopeLift have submitted their proposals to the DAO. The Workstream is evaluating which proposal is the best fit, but it’s likely that parts of both proposals combined will provide the best path towards decentralization.

The two active proposals

The attributes of dGrants

Regardless of the adopted method, the open source endstate of dGrants must have these attributes:

  • Permissionless – any person will be able to participate by creating a grant or funding an existing grant, or start and run their own matching round.
  • Transparent – The ranking and curation algorithm and its input data will be visible and publicly verifiable.
  • Secure – Users should be confident they are interacting with the correct Gitcoin contracts and contributions are directed to the correct parties.
  • Sybil Resistant – The Quadratic Funding mechanism is susceptible to Sybil and Collusion attacks, so dGrants must incorporate a method by which the cost to defend the system is less than the cost to attack it.
  • Efficient – Since some components of Gitcoin dGrants and user data will inevitably live on-chain, creating and contributing to grants should only cost in fees what is necessary to secure the network.
  • Scalable – As Web3 technology changes, dGrants must remain compatible with the developing ecosystem of scaling solutions.
  • Forkable – Anyone will be able to fork the interface, update it, and host it.
  • Composable – The system should be built and designed in a modular fashion enabling users of Gitcoin to choose their UI and curation algorithms. Users are free to develop and share their own UI to evolve the ecosystem.

Next steps and call for participation

Now with both proposals in place, the Decentralized Gitcoin Workstream will be framing out the very beginnings of a prototype so the community may experiment and learn with it. You may find that in this Gitcoin repository on Github. At the same time, the DAO is looking for feedback on the ChainSafe and ScopeLift proposals. To participate, please join the forum and provide comments on this post. Also, please join the Gitcoin Community Discord governance channels, for a more informal discussion.

Are you interested in helping to build dGrants?

You’ve come to the right place! Help experiment with the prototype in its infancy. Learn along with the Workstream and help shape the future of Gitcoin Grants. Comment on the proposals in the governance proposals, help drive decisions through discussions on GitHub, and get hands on with the most forward edge of decentralized funding technology. Reach out directly in, or in Discord here.

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