What would you do for a million dollars?
Unless you have worked in academia or for a non-profit, you are probably not familiar with grants, grant writing, or what separates a reasonable grant request from a bad one. Before joining Decentraland, I had never considered the merits of someone else's grant or thought there would be a time when I would write one of my own. When you step back and compare Decentraland activity to DAO participation, it is clear that something is holding people back from getting involved in the DAO, specifically the grant program.
Millions of dollars are available to fund building the metaverse of their dreams. Yet, very few people are actively involved in the Decentraland DAO, and even fewer are asking for grants. If we can demystify some of the processes around the DAO grant program, more people will begin to think of ways to leverage their intelligence and skills to improve Decentraland.
A DAO needs participation if it hopes to survive, let alone thrive. The more people actively involved and cultivating a sense of community ownership, the more people, not only working towards bettering the platform but the more people who will sing its praises and tell others about the opportunities available.
This doesn't mean everyone who comes to Decentraland and asks for a grant should expect to get one. But, if you make a good-faith effort to get to know the community and understand the platform, you have a realistic shot at turning your ideas into reality.
So, with that in mind, let's breakdown things down into bite sizes pieces.
What is a Grant?
Grants are financial assistance given to individuals or organizations by governments, foundations, or other institutions to support the work of those individuals and organizations. Unlike loans, grants don't need to be repaid. Most grants are historically non-profit or research-focused, so profitability and ROI are not traditionally top priorities. However, the goals and expectations are unique to every project.
Obviously, no one is giving out large sums of money for nothing. There will be an application process to get a Grant, no matter the organization awarding it. While the method and expectation of a Grant will vary depending on the institution awarding it, ultimately, it boils down to communicating your goals and intentions and showing how they align with those of the Grant giver.
What kind of Grants does Decentraland offer?
Decentraland offers seven categories, each with its own criteria and requirements, for submitting potential grants.
Social Media Content
Which category you choose will depend on who you are, your skills, and what you are interested in contributing to Decentraland. You are probably already eyeing one or two categories that you can imagine yourself making a meaningful contribution to, but let's go through each category and break them down.
Core Unit - If you are reading this to better understand how the DAO's grant system works, there is a good chance you aren't ready to apply for a Core Unit grant. The Core Unit category is intended for Committee and Squad positions (I will explain what those are and how they work in a future article). Simply put, any official DAO representative is being compensated via this category.
Platform - The Platform grants are for all things technical that are expanding what is possible in Decentraland, think implementing VR compatibility or optimizing server performance. There has been some confusion around what this category is for. At least one project had to resubmit their proposal in a different category after their grant to fund the making of a game passed under platform.
Documentation - This is one of the most under-appreciated categories, and it is precisely what it sounds like. It isn't fun. It isn't "sexy," but at the end of the day, it doesn't matter how awesome Decentraland is if the only people who know how to harness its infinite potential are the developers already working within Decentraland. Taking the time to extract the information from those developing DCL and creating functional documentation is vital to the platform's growth.
In-World Content - This is the category for your Games, Events, and just about anything user-facing within Decentraland. These grants tend to get the most engagement in the forums and are often very divisive. I encourage anyone considering applying for a grant in this category to spend several months in DCL and in the DAO forums to ensure they understand where the community sentiment is and how to best work within the limitations of Decentraland.
Social Media Content - This is the category for content creators that create their content outside of Decentraland. It doesn't matter what platform you have built your audience or what medium you make art in; if you are excited about Decentraland and have an audience, this is the category for you.
Sponsorship - This is a pretty tough category. While I've seen a number of projects submitted, I don't think I've seen a project get approved within it since I started following the DAO closely last year. Still, in theory, this is the category for IRL events looking to get sponsored. If you were going to host a Decentraland meetup during NFT NYC, this would be the category you would use to get funding.
Accelerator - While this category is included under "grants," it is the only category with ROI listed as its performance metric and sharing that profit as its only requirement. No matter how long you have been in DCL, you will need a proven track record or some very mana-rich friends if you hope to get approval in this category successfully. Generally speaking, the community prefers to do something other than funding people's private enterprises using DAO money.
Hopefully, you have a slightly better fundamental understanding of how Decentraland utilizes grants and are already thinking about ways you can harness your skills and which categories you are best prepared to work in. In my next post, I want to get into the details and break down budgeting nuance between categories, the exact mechanics utilized to determine the quarterly budget, and how much VP (voting power) is required to pass proposals of varying sizes.This is an excellent place to pause and let any future grant writers digest and consider where they want to apply their efforts.
However, if you are hyped about the idea of a Decentraland Grant and you are ready to dive head first into the deepend, here are some of my Primary Sources: