Transparency regarding the grants program

Hello, community. Here is Zino from the Grant Support Squad. I wanted to write this article to clarify the spirit behind our actions last month, which had generated conflict in our DAO’s discord channel. We arrived at the conclusion that we, as a core unit, needed to improve our communication with the DAO to foster transparency regarding the processes of improving the Grants Program.

First of all, a little context: 

What is the Grants Program in Decentraland? 

The Decentraland DAO possesses a MANA fund that has been set aside to help sponsor and facilitate the continual growth of the Decentraland platform.  

The Grants Program was created to allow any member of the community to request funding to contribute a decentralized metaverse that is built and owned by its community. This takes place in projects for community building and education, creating 3D content for the world, or implementing new features and improvements to the platform and in the last year the DAO awarded more than $7.0M USD to 110 grants.

What  do we do at the Grant Support Squad?

The Grant Support Squad was created to guarantee the effectiveness of the Grants Program, providing support for the grantees to have successful projects. But also for holding grantees accountable for their projects, and signaling to the DAO if a vesting contract needs to be revoked, as the basic terms and conditions to take care of the DAO Treasury. 

Why revocations?

During the 4 months our Squad has been, we got to know the grantees on video calls, spent time with them, listened to their needs, provided support in various forms, and have seen successful grants. We went through the sieve of the requirements written on the documents related to the Grant Program. 

Walking through those 58 grants that finished  ($3.5M USD) before the Grant Support Squad existed, we detected that 17 grants had some concerns regarding what they have proposed. This represents 1,3M USD.  Almost 50% of the  funds provided.

In the active grants, we found cases that were they won’t complete the project that the community had voted on, and some other projects that were delayed on the proposed roadmap. The difficulty on these cases is that: the contracts of these grants were still vesting.

For that reason we recommend to the DAO Committee (who has the ability to stop the vestings using the contract action named “revoke”), to execute the only technical mechanism that the DAO has to make sure we can stop vesting contracts as a preventive action, with the commitment that, as soon as the grantee delivered according to their proposed roadmap, the DAO Committee would create a new vesting contract for the funds remaining.

Another case of use. If the grantee decided that they were not delivering, using the revocation action these funds are returned to the DAO treasury. As an example there is 1 case that the DAO has been refunded with 240k.

We are aware of the negative connotation of this action and that this method is not the best. But, today, is the only tool that we, the DAO, have to make sure the funds are going to projects that nurture our community. And regarding this, the DAO has recovered $335k  USD in the last two months.

Another thing that we want to encourage is that, if a grantee is not able to accomplish their project, they can refund the money to the DAO treasury. As an example, the DAO has recovered 7k USD of projects that returned their funds because of these matters. The important thing in these cases is not the money recovered, but are the good practices of the grantees, showing their initiative to take care of our communities treasury.

With this context, we started to work on the improvement of the Grant Program, particularly finding tools to mitigate the negative impact of the Revocation and to give more information to the community to vote on a grant proposal. So:

  • We are working on the proposal with the process of action of the New Committee has voted by the community on this proposal:  

    • This would give an opportunity to the grantee to argue with an objective third party not involved in the “revocation process”. 

This would mitigate the “centralized power” of the DAO Committee to judge the case, and execute the decision. 

  • We have asked the DAO Committee to improve the vesting contracts. 

    • The main request would be to have a pausing feature in the vesting contract and extend the 6-month duration to give the possibility for the grantee to decide how long the vesting contract should be, matching the amount of months of the duration of their projects.
  • We are working with the  DAO Committee, in the poll named restructuring Community Grants Program, raising the needs our grantees have expressed during these 4 months as insights to make a better grants program for our contributors.

  • We are working back to back with the Governance Team to redesign the form to request a grant including requirements written on the grant framework.

    • That is vital to give more information to the community to make an informed vote.
  • We are creating a formal request to give the ability to any community member to initiate a Grant revocation process if they detect any concern.

  • We are creating a formal request to give the ability to any community member to initiate the revocation process of the Grant Support squad.

I hope this information was helpful to all and shows our compromise to keep improving our communication.

Best regards,

Grant Support Squad.

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