This handbook intends to provide instructions to those interested in applying for a grant from the Unlock DAO. This guide showcases applying for a grant, establishing clear milestones, and provides a description of how the grant process proceeds throughout the life of a grant.
Any educational program, integration, plugin, application, or event that will increase the visibility, credibility, or Gross Network Product (GNP) of Unlock Protocol should consider applying for a grant from the Unlock DAO.
What are grants?
Grants are one of the features of the Unlock ecosystem. As Unlock continues to progressively decentralize the decision-making and governance of the protocol, streamlining and further decentralizing the grants process supports that goal.
Historically, the Unlock Labs team was actively involved in the grants through both managing the process as well as distributing grants via Unlock Labs. Going forward, Unlock Labs recommends the Unlock DAO take a more active role in grant activity. The reason for this is simple: much more community involvement in grants, powered by the Unlock DAO itself.
Currently in early 2023, the Unlock DAO’s timelock contract holds a significant number of UDT governance tokens. These governance tokens can be distributed to members of the community as grants, if members of the DAO create proposals that pass the governance process.
A reminder: Members of the Unlock DAO make proposals, and members of the Unlock DAO decide what to do with the DAO’s governance tokens.
The Unlock Labs team has put some thought into a process that the Unlock community could use for grants going forward. The recommended process is shown below, and each step is explained in more detail underneath the image. (Of course, this is a suggestion — the community can make any proposals using any process it chooses.)
Recommended grant process
Let’s walk through the recommended process.
First, get familiar with the grant process itself
Before proposing a grant, projects considering applying for a grant should read the grants page on the Unlock website, as well as read the Governance pages here in the Unlock project documentation.
Fill out a grant application
After familiarizing themselves with the grants material, a representative of the prospective grant project should fill out a Grant Application in Unlock’s Github repository. They can do this by going to the Unlock Github repository and opening a new issue.
The grant application will open up as a form in Github that looks something like this:
The grant application will ask for the following information:
- Description of the grant request
- Website URL
- Twitter, Github, LinkedIn, Discord handles
- Estimated completion time
- Team background
- Key milestones
- Requested grant amount
- Intention to release the grant work as Open Source
- Anything else you think the community should know
Fill out the form as completely as possible so other Unlock DAO community members can understand the application clearly.
Encourage conversation around the grant application
Once submitted for review, grant applications can be viewed and commented on by anyone in the Unlock community. Proposers should encourage and engage in discussion about the grant application in the comments on the application itself on Github.
A NOTE ON VOTING: There are two primary kinds of voting mechanisms in the Unlock DAO. “Off-chain” voting, where Unlock DAO members can vote to communicate their positions on a proposal, and “on-chain” voting, where the votes not only communicate positions, but also result in automatic execution of the proposal if the proposal passes. These methods and their distinctions will be important in the following sections.
Before starting work, take a temperature check from the Unlock DAO community
Before spending significant time or effort building in anticipation of receiving a grant, the applicant should strongly consider an off-chain “temperature check” proposal and vote using a system like Snapshot. To do this, the applicant would create a proposal and encourage community members to indicate how they would likely vote on the proposal were it an on-chain vote. While the Snapshot vote is technically non-binding, it can give an indication of the interest in the grant application and a directional likelihood if the proposal would pass if proposed on-chain, and if the project proposed in the grant were completed as proposed.
Taking an off-chain temperature check vote is optional, but it is recommended. Strong support from the community is an indicator that if the project were to be executed, the community would likely support the funding of the grant upon completion of the work.
You can think of this temperature check as a “social contract.” If the DAO later rejects on-chain proposals that had previously been “approved” off-chain via Snapshots, it would likely chill the interest of future applicants in even submitting grant applications, since prospective applicants may not trust the fact that the grant payouts would be officially ratified once the on-chain vote is proposed in the future.
While not “binding” in a technical sense, the off-chain Snapshot vote serves an important purpose in getting the community’s tacit commitment to support the grant application going forward.
Build in public, and keep the community appraised of progress
If the project team decides to build their project, go for it! Remember to keep the rest of the community informed during the project’s execution. Share progress, notes, demos, key milestones, screens, videos, and other markers of progress in the conversation thread for the application as the project proceeds forward.
What is a milestone and why are they important?
Project milestones mark specific points along a project’s timeline. They are checkpoints that identify when key developments or groups of activities have been completed. Milestones are powerful because they demonstrate forward progress. They help you monitor deadlines and identify important dates.
The final milestone should include success metrics or ROI. Here are some examples based on your application type.
- For a membership implementation: the number of members joined your through your platform.
- For an event: the number of tickets sold.
- For use with credentials: the number of credentials handed out.
- For educational materials: the number of people educated.
If you’re unsure about this, reach out to the community in the comment thread of your grant application for help from your peers.
Final Delivery: Share the results, show your work
When the items that were proposed in the original grant are complete, share them! Share them in the application thread on Github, along with links to demos, videos, the project website, and other indicators that what was outlined in the original grant application have been completed. If all in-scope items have been completed, the project is live, and the grant retrospective has been submitted, you should move on to the next step.
Note: If the work of the grant has not been completed and delivered by one year after the conversation around the grant was initiated, the community will likely assume the grant project has been abandoned.
Submit your proposal to the Unlock DAO for distribution of the grant
While the earlier off-chain “temperature check” indicated directional support, a formal on-chain proposal and vote for the grant distribution (using a system like Tally, for instance), will complete the grant process.
Create an on-chain proposal that highlights the original grant application, shows the work that was done, formally request a grant amount from the DAO to be paid from the Unlock DAO timelock wallet, and open the voting. If the vote reaches quorum and passes, the proposal will be automatically executed and the grant will be distributed from the Unlock DAO timelock wallet to the wallet indicated in the proposal.
Below are some useful resources you should use to learn about Unlock Protocol, amplify your project, and connect with the ecosystem and community.
Forum - discussions about all kinds of topics but most importantly where community members post pre-vote proposals for consideration.
Twitter - for announcements and larger web3 ecosystem discussions and news
Discord - for chat and support from the community and the core team
Blog - for in-depth articles about what is happening with protocol development, events, activations, and more.
Events - find out where we’re going to be in person and online
GitHub - where you can find the core project, examples, hooks and technical docs repositories.
Developer Docs - core protocol reference, APIs, tutorials, developer tools, and more
Creator Guides - step-by-step guides on how to use our UI tools like the Unlock “Dashboard”, set up plugins, find integrations, configure credit card payments, and more.