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June 26, 2024

Evolving Together: GG20 Reflections, Insights and Future Plans

GG20 ran from April 23 - May 7th, 2024 and marked significant milestones, including a $1.6M matching pool, the election of a Community Council, a protocol upgrade, and a greater sybil resistance strategy.

TL;DR

  • GG20 ran from April 23 - May 7th
  • Key Learnings: Community Round Governance
  • Key Learnings: Grantee Experience
  • Key Learnings: Donor Experience
  • Key Learnings: Operations
  • Moving Forward

Thank you to Sejal and Sov for your key input into this post.

Gitcoin Grants is a community-driven quarterly funding initiative, aiming to propel high-impact projects forward through the power of allocating capital in the Ethereum community. Grants = Growth

Since its inception in 2019, Gitcoin Grants has facilitated over 3,500 projects and distributed $60M across 20 rounds through Quadratic Funding, solidifying its position as a Schelling point for seeding and maintaining high impact builders across the ecosystem.

GG20 ran from April 23 - May 7th, 2024 and marked significant milestones, including a $1.6M matching pool, the election of a Community Council, a protocol upgrade, and a greater sybil resistance strategy.

As we concluded the GG20 Results & Recap, we would like to take a further look at the learnings we gained from internal retrospectives on the round, as well as external feedback we received from the community. 

This feedback guides and helps us to continue to iterate and improve for future rounds. Below includes summaries of key learnings in respective areas pertaining to running a successful Quadratic Funding round, including ways on how Gitcoin will iterate and evolve moving forward with Gitcoin Grants.

What were we doing differently this round?

  • $1M matching pool towards the OSS Program
  • Launched Passport’s Model Based Detection system, in tandem with COCM for improved sybil resistance
  • Bucketing the OSS Program into four distinct rounds as opposed to one large OSS round
  • Ran all rounds on Arbitrum, and partnered with ThankARB to run a rewards & incentivization program for GG20
  • Newly elected Community Council began governing the Community Rounds
  • Protocol upgrade 

What were we hoping to learn from doing this?

With Gitcoin Grants 20 we refocused on our core mission of supporting open-source software and digital public goods, started a journey to redefine how we continually fund and sustain the digital infrastructure that underpins our modern world.

We’ll dive into the key learnings from GG20 below.

Key Learnings: Community Round Governance

In GG20, Gitcoin rolled out a net-new governance process for Community Rounds to provide proposals if they wished to participate in the round, which were reviewed and voted on by a newly elected Community Council. The top 5 rounds received extra matching from Gitcoin of $25k each.

In the proposed new structure, we will create a dedicated pool of funds (up to $125K quarterly) available to support “matching on matching” pools. Communities with any amount raised for matching and meeting the round criteria can apply for up to $25K in funding from Gitcoin to go toward their matching pool. The GG20 Community Council (a Gitcoin DAO-elected external council) will proceed to review applications and vote on which communities to fund in the upcoming round.

Community Feedback

Moving Forward

As the Gitcoin team reviewed the feedback, our goal is to advance with a system that is inclusive and impactful for everyone involved, ensuring that the process remains fair, thoroughly vetted, and well-resourced.

Regarding the marketing and communication consolidation for community rounds beyond the top five funded, it is crucial to allocate resources from within the Gitcoin team and properly vet these rounds to ensure legitimacy and visibility. In GG20, some teams felt excluded due to the lack of marketing support, as they were not among the top chosen rounds. We understand the importance of exposure and the desire for teams to be included meaningfully.

For future rounds, we have decided to expand the number of rounds included in marketing efforts during a GG round. While the top five rounds will continue to receive matching funds from Gitcoin, the total number of rounds included in the marketing will depend on the specific resources available and whether the round is running parallel with our OSS Program. This approach aims to provide broader exposure and support to more teams, ensuring a more inclusive and impactful experience.

Key Learnings: Grantee Experience

Historically, we have heard that the experience for grantees have been 1) complicated, 2) difficult to navigate Grants Stack, and 3) poor communication from the Gitcoin team. This is something that we set out to drastically improve in GG20 – aiming for an 80% grantee satisfaction rate.

We surveyed grantees after GG20, incentivizing them to fully complete the survey for a unique Gitcoin NFT that would unlock future merch/events. The survey received 70+ fully completed responses.

Grantee Survey Results

Survey sent to everyone that was accepted into a round during GG20

+75 respondents

  • 43% were first time grantees
  • 36% had participated in 2-4 rounds
  • 21.3% had participated in 5+ rounds

A key metric we aimed to achieve was an 80% grantee satisfaction rate. See below for results:

The above result equals to 81% of respondents rating their experience a ⅘ or a 5/5, which met our key result for GG20.

The above result equals 73% of respondents saying their experience in GG20 was either 1) Much Better or 2) Better than previous rounds they’ve participated in.

The above result equals to 63% of respondents stating that their experience navigating our platform was either ⅘ or 5/5. 

Moving Forward

Moving forward, here are some key areas where we are looking to improving/expanding/evolving

  • Increasing resources to guide grantees into successfully marketing their grantssome text
    • We have received positive feedback from grantees in multiple rounds regarding us providing them with Canva kits to make marketing their grant easier. The next step is to provide resources (esp aimed at newer grantees) to further empower them to market successfully.
  • Improving the grantee portal so that it’s more user friendly and easier to navigatesome text
    • This includes potentially porting it over to the website and creating different funnels for where any grantee might be in their journey: returning grantee vs new grantee.
  • Finding ways to build a stronger builder community centered around mentorship, growth and education.
  • Have clearer resources on “What Makes a Good Grant Proposal” and create design sessions to guide projects towards creating strong proposals.some text
    • We have found that not all grantees are aware of using Markdown and stronger onboarding sessions could be experimented with.
  • Consider rolling applications and finding ways to have returning grantees accepted into the round without them needing to fill out the application again.some text
    • This would allow for a more streamlined process and experience for grantees when coming through the GG program.

Please Note: There was some feedback where projects requested Gitcoin to extend more of its marketing efforts out to grantees and spotlight projects. This is not something that Gitcoin can do during a round, due to the fact that we need to remain credibly neutral in order to not affect the QF formula. But we have kicked off an ongoing grantee showcase campaign that will drive grantee spotlights in between rounds. Each spotlight is linked to a unique NFT mint on Mirror that raises funds for the Gitcoin matching pool.

Key Learnings: Grantee Outcomes

By focusing the Gitcoin Grants program on open source software (OSS) in Round 20 and launching four specific rounds, we were able to double the number of projects participating compared to Round 19.

The above indicates a substantial growth in new projects and healthy retention. In addition, 59% of OSS projects from Round 19 returned in Round 20, while the number of new projects more than doubled. The shift from one general Open Source Software round to four targeted rounds likely provided greater clarity on funding criteria and opportunities, encouraging more projects to seek funding.

When analyzing Gitcoin Grants Round 20 by individual rounds, it's remarkable that each of the four OSS rounds attracted a substantial number of new projects. This can be attributed to extensive outreach efforts from collaboration between Team Tiger and the Open Source Observer team. The dApps round, in particular, brought in a significant number of new projects, while the Hackathon Alumni round consisted almost entirely of new projects.

These findings suggest that by offering four targeted rounds, Gitcoin Grants became a clearer and more attractive destination for builders seeking funding. Moving forward, we should continue exploring ways to appeal to builders and meet them where they are, ensuring that Gitcoin Grants remains a go-to platform for open source software projects to secure funding and support.

In addition to attracting more projects, we significantly increased the funding available for OSS grantees in Gitcoin Grants Round 20. The matching pool for OSS was raised from $400k to $1M, and we also observed a 34% increase in crowdfunding for these rounds. Together, nearly $1.5M was allocated to OSS projects through the GG20 Program rounds.

Moreover, the median project's funding experienced a 50% increase, rising from $993 to $1,511. While this represents a substantial increase in the median, it also means that 50% of projects are raising less than $1.5k. Even in developing countries, this amount would not sustainably fund projects with full-time development. 

To address this issue, we should explore additional strategies to increase funding for OSS projects, ensuring that a larger proportion of projects receive adequate support to maintain and grow their initiatives. This may involve further increasing the matching pool, reducing the number of projects, attracting more donors, or finding ways to optimize the distribution of funds to maximize the impact on the OSS ecosystem.

 

The graph on the left shows the distribution of funding among OSS projects (ranked from 1 to 326) in Gitcoin Grants Round 20. Once again, it shows a clear power law distribution where a small number of top projects receive a significant portion of the total funding. Notably, the right graph shows that 10% of the total funding goes to the top 0.61% of projects, 30% to the top 3.36% of projects, and 50% of the funding to the top 8.26% of projects. From a different perspective, 71 projects raised over $5k, 41 projects over $10k, 18 projects over $20k, and 3 projects over $50k. 

At the same time, 210 projects (64% of all projects) raised over $1k.The data also shows that Quadratic Funding continues to support the long tail of projects, suggesting that this cycle's long-tail projects can potentially become the short-tail projects of the next cycle.

Moving Forward

This raises the question: what do we want from our mechanism? What should Quadratic Funding achieve? Should we allocate more funding to the long tail, the short tail, or maintain the current balance? How much control should we have over a mechanism which aggregates the preferences of the many anyway? 

Depending on the role we envision for QF within the ecosystem, we could employ various strategies. For instance, setting a minimum funding threshold and only distributing matching funds to projects surpassing that amount would direct more resources to top projects. Alternatively, lowering the matching cap would reduce funding for top projects and distribute more among the long tail. Yet another option is to introduce accountability and milestone-based funding, such as through dominance assurance contracts, or community reviews.

Key Learnings: Donor Experience

GG20 rolled out Passport’s Model Based Detection system, a number of feature enhancements on Grants Stack, and ran all four OSS rounds on Arbitrum. In previous rounds, being on multiple chains, including sometimes PGN, caused increased donor friction, and partnering with ThankARB created a deeper improvement in overall experience during the round.

  • In this chart, a retained donor is one who also donated in the immediately previous round(e.g retained from 19 to 20 or 18 to 19). A resurrected donor is one who has voted before but not in the immediately previous round (e.g. donated in 18, then skipped 19, is resurrected in 20). 
  • There was an overall decrease in the number of donors participating in GG20, compared to 19. In particular, there was a decrease in retained donors. 
  • However, each donor donated more leading to an overall increase in the amount of crowdfunding by $27k. 
  • It’s also notable that in each round more than half of all donors were first-time donors. Increasing our retention among this group could lead to big increases in GMV. 

The above indicates that we can focus more on donor retention especially for first-time donors. One possible strategy includes collecting donor emails at checkout in order to notify them when the next round is happening and/or provide updates about the projects they supported. 

Community Feedback

  • The return of collections in Round 20 was greatly appreciated by the community, as it allows donors to add multiple grants to cart with a single click. Collections can also help increase the visibility of smaller grants by grouping them with more popular ones, potentially leading to more diverse funding.
  • Some donors, especially those not deeply involved in the web3 ecosystem, faced challenges when attempting to bridge funds or use L2 solutions. Addressing these tensions and making the donation process more user-friendly could help increase participation and funding for grants.
  • Changes to how Gitcoin Passport is used within the Grants ecosystem led to confusion among some users who were still trying to collect stamps. Clear communication about changes to the Passport system and its integration with the Grants platform could help mitigate confusion and ensure users understand the current requirements for participation.

Moving Forward

  • Strategize around donor retention and how we can keep donors who donate once repeatedly engagedsome text
    • Collecting emails is one possible way to achieve this, enabling the Gitcoin team to perform outreach. Exploring ways to allow grantees to email updates to their donors, such as in cGrants, could also be beneficial.
  • Continue making it easier for users to create and share collectionssome text
    • Collections appear to be a popular feature that makes the experience more social and engaging.
  • Consider how we may need to communicate differently to new donors versus returning donors to minimize confusion and maximize our signal-to-noise ratiosome text
    • Different approaches are needed for different users. New users require more guidance on how things work currently, while returning users only need to be informed about changes since their last interaction.

Key Learnings: Operations

Introduction of Checker and “Team Tiger”

During this round of operations, we experimented with decentralizing the review process by engaging a team of Gitcoin citizens called "Team Tiger." This attempt to decentralize the reviews was largely successful. Although there is room for improvement in terms of coordinating with Team Tiger, we acknowledge the positive outcome and remain open to further decentralization efforts in the future.

To enhance transparency and provide timely communication regarding the rationale behind project approvals and rejections, we incorporated Checker, an AI-based tool, into our review process. While Checker served as an add-on rather than a tool we completely relied upon, it proved to be a valuable asset. Moving forward, we plan to refine the tool and continue utilizing it in subsequent rounds.

Overall, the introduction of Team Tiger and the use of Checker have been positive steps towards our goal of decentralizing and improving the review process. We will continue to build upon these successes and explore additional ways to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations.

Community Feedback

  • Clearer instructions and more guidance during the application phase were highlighted as areas needing improvement.
  • Wallet Addresses in grant application public. We will not make team member wallet addresses public in future rounds. Our intention in collecting wallet addresses is to identify any team members who have previously received Gitcoin Grants funding to ensure a fair and transparent process, but we may have inadvertently over complicated things. Requiring wallet addresses from all team members, regardless of past Gitcoin Grants participation, is unnecessary and goes beyond the scope of what's needed. 
  • Grantees expressed a need for more support in project impact reporting and onboarding their communities.
  • Additional support was also requested for understanding how Gitcoin Grants works and navigating the application process.

Moving Forward

Expediting Payouts

We have seen massive improvements around payout timelines, with payouts being concluded in less than 1 month after the round ending, in comparison to rounds in the past where it could have taken anywhere between 6-9 weeks. The team would like to improve this schedule even more moving forward.

So far, the primary timing improvements are due to the switch to COCM and Passport Lite, and turning off the black-box of sybil squelching. This round we piloted and tested a QF/COCM calculator app. We believe continued development and testing of this app will allow us to publish results the same day as the round concludes.

One process slowing down payouts is a 5-day snapshot vote to ratify the results. This is often a rubber stamp of approval from token-holders to verify results. In GG19 we successfully piloted a pre-approval process for ratifying matching results. Moving forward, we’d like to pass a similar pre-approval for all future matching payouts, effectively removing the need to seek ratification each round. 

Conclusion

As we reflect on GG20, we value the insights from internal retrospectives and community feedback, which are instrumental in guiding our continuous improvement. The learnings from this round will shape our future strategies, ensuring we evolve and enhance the Gitcoin Grants program.

As we look to GG21 and GG22, we are encouraged to experiment with various funding mechanisms outside of Quadratic Funding alone, dogfooding our own products on a broader scale. 

We are excited to evolve together, and appreciate everyone who has participated in our grants program. You have our commitment that we will work tirelessly to continue to create a more resilient, inclusive, and thriving future.

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