Analytical vs Systemic approach to grant allocation

:slight_smile: common issue for grant applicants is finding the right programme to apply to. E.g.

The issue is not just one of grant applicants having to invest time figuring out where to apply (an issue but not critical). There’s also a way bigger issue under the surface that seriously impacts the DAO (and also an issue in corporations we could improve upon!):

Let’s imagine for the sake of the explanation, a unit to account for how much value a proposal adds to the objective of a grant program

Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4
Proposal A Proposal B
Value to community building grants programme 60 100
Value to new protocol grants programme 60 0
Value to XYZ grant progogramme 10 0
Total 130 100

As you can see, proposals that add value across categories (case A) are likely to lose when compared exclusively on their merit in one category at a time. Despite A being the most valuable proposal overall, B is more likely to get funded. This is the issue with analytical approaches (dividing things into sub-categories) vs systemic ones (more akin to adding tags and mapping connections).

What can we do about it?
As far as I can see, the solution for the issue requires embedding systemic thinking across multiple components of the organisation design, and thankfully Arbitrum is early enough that this is quite doable:

  • Application process for grants: single form (I understand this is already the case), and multi-select as opposed to select-one from the grant programmes menu or even better, not selecting a grant programme but selecting all the strategic objectives to which something applies. Which then leads to a bit of noise but you add a triage system (akin to nurses in ER rooms checking it’s indeed an emergency and otherwise redirecting to GP. We can do this with an AI, e.g. one of RnDAO ventures called TogetherCrew already has similar functionality).
  • Funding approved for proposals based on aggregating scores across programmes (each programme would assess based on their specific objectives, and then scores aggregated. Scheduling of calls to speak with participants will likely require some coordination and here as well we have a tool called MeetWithWallet to reduce scheduling admin and otherwise, we need a good algorithm for the tally but that’s also quite doable and I don’t foresee major problems).
  • KPIs will need to be assessed comparing 1) the scores grant programmes gave to proposals, 2) funding used, and 3) per-objective improvement. This is not a major shift but does require us to use the right ontology for BI.

This might seem like quite a shift, but I can’t stress enough how big an impact this makes as an organisation (DAO or otherwise) scales. The nightmare of corporations is people with a great idea going from department to department and it being no one’s problem. Until people lose motivation and disengage. Meanwhile, the organisation stagnates with bureaucracy. We can do much better!

For now, I’m sharing this just as an idea to gather feedback. If it gets positive sentiment, I’m happy to flesh this out more and coordinate with others to flesh it out and advance it.

Note this also relates to what I’ve mentioned in the KPIs thread already here and here and in the Arbitrum Now one here. My hope is that we can embed this sort of next gen organisation design in the DAO and make it a leading example in Web3 and beyond.


Hi, thank you very much for this analysis. I share your idea that it must be frustrating for an individual to create a value proposition and not get the right place to be funded, as it can have a negative impact on the motivation to contribute to the ecosystem. It would be really interesting to try to explore this idea in depth for the creation of a design that can address this type of situation.

In our case, we have experienced these situations in the domain, where several proposals have had multiple approaches involving 2 or even more domains. Therefore, in these situations, we have internal meetings between all domain allocators in order to determine which is the domain in which the proposal would have the best chance of being approved.

At the end of the day all grant programs like questbook are experimental, so these kinds of reflections are important to share in order to improve these programs over time so that as many high-impact proposals as possible have the opportunity to contribute to the ecosystem.


Thanks for sharing. And let me clarify that this is not a dig on you guys in any way. I appreciate the way you’ve been handling it. The post is simply an example of a systemic issue in which we’re both involved and I think the DAO could improve upon.


I believe that push foward this kind of initiative are good to improve the experimental programs to make them more optimal. If there exist any way to contribute, I personally will be glad to do it.


I guess the start is defining the strategic pillars for Arbitum (DAO).
Started working on this Pre-Proposal for a Strategy Framework for Arbitrum DAO

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