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Considerations for Marketing a Community-Led Grants Round

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Effective marketing is instrumental to the success of your grants round. In this article, learn how Grants Stack can support your marketing initiatives as we share some considerations to help you throughout the process.

Marketing and Gitcoin Grants Stack

Empowering communities to fund what matters is at the heart of Gitcoin’s mission, which is why we’ve launched Gitcoin Grants Stack, a protocol-enabled solution that enables any community to create, manage and grow a grants program. Grants Stack utilizes three core apps, plus an integration with Gitcoin Passport to make it possible to manage, discover, donate to and participate in grants programs.

Previously, we’ve outlined the various aspects of running a grants program that program managers should take into consideration before, during and after a round. For example, the first step of launching a grants round requires program managers to select a topic that they’re passionate about. Now, we’re focusing on the next crucial stage: marketing.

Grants Stack can facilitate marketing initiatives for program managers before, during and after rounds as summarized below:

  • Pre- and Mid-Round: Grants Stack makes program setup, management and reporting easier so that program managers have better access to information they can use in marketing materials.
  • Post-Round: When the round is over, Grants Stack helps program managers identify which projects received the most votes, how much money was raised and how funds will be distributed with Quadratic Funding — all of which are relevant for post-round marketing.

Since effective marketing is instrumental to the success of a grants round, program managers should factor in considerations before, during and after their round, such as: How much time is needed before a round?; Which channels are best for disseminating marketing materials?; What information should be shared in a comprehensive round recap? 

In this article, we’ll go over some considerations for program managers marketing to potential grantees so they can effectively leverage Grants Stack to market their community-led rounds. We’re confident that with these starting points and tools like Grants Stack, marketing your round to potential grantees will be a rewarding endeavor.

Before the Round

As program manager, it’s beneficial to consider the various factors and parameters which go into a marketing campaign in order to generate hype and attract the most values-aligned applicant pool. Below are a few considerations we recommend thinking about prior to your round:

  • Eligibility Criteria: How curated or open would you like your round to be? This is arguably the most critical decision to make before setting up a round. Clear eligibility criteria—ranging anywhere from how old a project must be to participate, to specifying only projects that have circulated over a certain duration in the web3 space—determines whether a round is more curated or more open. Clear eligibility criteria are key to help encourage the most compatible applicants to opt-in to your round and avoid confusion.
  • Timelines, Deadlines and Momentum: How much time should you allot to marketing? And how long should rounds last? Because of the nascent nature of the Featured Rounds* program, we recommend beginning to increase awareness and build anticipation within your own ecosystem four weeks out. Then once you’re two weeks away, promote more widely to gain community interest; and then during the last week before the round starts, open up the applicant pool. 

Being clear about deadlines helps potential grantees submit their projects before the application cutoff date. Many potential applicants have competing priorities when building their projects and often leave their applications till the last minute. Often, we’ve noticed that some of the strongest grantees are less likely to share a proposal because they’re actively building, so clearly marketing your round’s deadlines and timelines is crucial.

Consider the duration of the actual round. Gitcoin Grants rounds typically run two weeks, and while there’s no limit to how long your round can run, we always see a significant dropoff in both applicant and donor engagement for anything longer than two weeks.

  • Leveraging Existing Ecosystems: How do you market with your target applicants in mind and leverage your community to achieve that goal? The reach of your marketing initiatives depends heavily on the engagement of your community and that of potential grantees. Do you have an existing mailing list? On which social networks do you primarily engage with your community: Twitter, Instagram or even Farcaster? Which podcasts are popular with your members? Understanding which communication channels are already working will be helpful in determining the best avenues to market the round to grantees.
  • Grants Stack: How can Grants Stack supercharge your marketing strategy for attracting grantees? This protocol-enabled product suite utilizes three core apps: Manager, Explorer and Builder, plus an integration with Gitcoin Passport, that make it possible to easily manage, discover, donate to and participate in Grants Programs. While Grants Stack isn’t an explicit marketing tool, it makes program setup, management, and reporting easier so that program managers have access to information that they can use in marketing materials. Before your round, you can customize round features upon setup, including:

Chain selection

Gitcoin Passport integration for Sybil defense

Support channel identification (for marketing)

Setting dates for application and round periods

Configuration of funding settings (ie. matching cap % and payout token)

During the Round

While your round is running, it’s critical to generate hype and sustain the engagement of potential applicants and donors for the duration of the round. Here’s what you should take into consideration during your round to keep the momentum going:

  • First Day: How should you schedule communications during your round? We recommend taking the first day of your round to share a timeline with key dates. (Remember, most rounds last 2 weeks, but it’s completely up to you.) This is an opportunity to attract grantees, spread the word and clarify eligibility criteria. Leveraging your community’s preferred channels is key: Would you launch the event series schedule through an announcement on Twitter Spaces, an email or even a podcast? 
  • Ongoing throughout the Round: What else can you do to sustain momentum throughout the round? As a program manager, you can consider:

Submitting retweet requests from you community to spread the word

Tweeting/posting/emailing reminders (ie. deadlines for grantees to get their applications in)

Hosting Twitter Spaces pertaining to your round

  • Last Day: How can you close out your round on a strong note? Take the opportunity to remind applicants that it’s the last day to vote and encourage them to spread the word. Use all your communication channels to shill! 

After the Round

Once your round has closed and the voting is complete, utilize round reports such as with Grants Stack to publicize the round’s results:

  • First Week: How do you celebrate a successful round? Just like the timelines set before and during your round, there’s no set time to follow, but the time following the round as another marketing opportunity. The following strategies can be used to keep potential grantees engaged, even once the round is over:

Hosting a Finale Event: Celebrate the completion of the round; it’s your chance to thank grantees for participating and build anticipation for the results.

  • Within a month after the round: How can you share your learnings and engage with your community after your round?

Sharing Round Wrap-Up Posts: With Grants Stack, you can access a dashboard of round stats to see how a given QF round performed during and after the round. Share the results to sustain interest from your community! Here’s an example of how Grants Round 15 shared its results.

Running a simple retro: Take the time to analyze what worked well throughout the process of running your round and potential areas of improvement. Consider asking yourself questions like: What approaches worked well?; What would have been even better if…?; What were the team’s learnings this round?; What will the team do to improve overall outputs and experience next round?

Case Study: ‘Stand With Crypto’ Campaign

In response to the lack of crypto advocacy and scrutiny from the federal government earlier this summer, we launched ‘Stand With Crypto’ in partnership with Coinbase and Zora. A featured round within the Gitcoin Beta Round, this project featured a custom NFT shield representing the need for rational crypto policy. The proceeds from each mint grew the size of the matching pool available to independently oriented Advocacy Grantees. NounsDAO minted 5K NFT shields and donated $100K to the Advocacy Matching Pool. In total, 150K shields were minted. Through this partnership, 5 Advocacy Grantees were funded, including Coin Center and Fight for the Future, based on their work with policymakers to draft legislation and grant representation to individuals and companies affected by US governmental overreach.

‘Stand With Crypto’ succeeded due to program managers who arduously marketed to innovative grantees. Of course, all 5 grantees were quadratically funded through Gitcoin Grants Stack.

While Core Rounds have typically dominated the Gitcoin Grants Rounds landscape, the ‘Stand With Crypto’ campaign serves as a reminder that, as more and more impact-driven communities lead the charge in funding what matters, program managers should prepare their marketing campaigns with Featured Rounds in mind, too.

*Featured Rounds vs. Core Rounds TL;DR

Gitcoin Grants generally takes place quarterly and now includes a subset of rounds, broken down as follows:

  • Core Rounds: Limited set of recurring thematic rounds most aligned with Gitcoin’s community and mission.

See: Ethereum Infrastructure and web3 Open Source Software

  • Featured Rounds: Community-led rounds that run in parallel with Gitcoin’s Core Rounds during the Gitcoin Grants rounds. Featured Rounds are operated by mission-aligned partners and often supported by Gitcoin’s marketing capacity.

See: DeSci, Advocacy and Sybil Resistance

Note: All Featured Rounds are community-led, but not all community-led rounds are Featured Rounds.

Conclusion

A comprehensive marketing strategy before, during and after your grants round is crucial in determining the round’s success. Sharing key dates, sustaining engagement throughout the round and post-round reporting are all aspects of running a grants program that should be prioritized. Gitcoin Grants Stack supports your marketing initiatives by streamlining program setup, management and reporting, so you can easily access the information you need to effectively market your community-led round.

We hope that with the aforementioned considerations and tools at your disposal, you feel more confident in creating a comprehensive marketing strategy for your grants program.

Interested in trying Grants Stack? Book a demo with our team.

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