Gitcoin is launching its next Gitcoin Grants round, “GR15,” on September 7, 2022. This guide provides an introduction to the Gitcoin Grants program and tips for first-time applicants.
Unlock Protocol is a proud supporter of Gitcoin and Gitcoin Grants.
In this guide, you’ll find answers to the following questions:
- What is Gitcoin?
- What are Gitcoin Grants?
- What is a grant round?
- How are Gitcoin Grants funded?
- Who is eligible for Gitcoin Grants?
- What type of projects have received Gitcoin Grants in the past?
- Examples of successful Gitcoin Grant proposals
- How does someone apply for a Gitcoin Grant?
- What is the timeline for Gitcoin GR15?
These items are answered throughout the rest of this guide.
What is Gitcoin?
Gitcoin is a decentralized funding platform for open source software. The project was founded by Kevin Owocki, who has been working on the development of Ethereum applications since 2016. Owocki launched Gitcoin in 2017 as a way to help developers raise money and reward contributors.
Gitcoin’s mission is to grow and sustain the open source ecosystem and connect developers with funders and help them build rewarding relationships.
What are Gitcoin Grants?
Gitcoin Grants are a new way to fund open source, as well as an alternative to foundation grants. Gitcoin Grants is a community-led initiative that allows users and organizations to directly fund the development of their favorite open source projects.
As a developer, Gitcoin Grants are a great way to take an existing project and secure funding that enables you to take your project to the next level.
As a funder, Gitcoin Grants help you contribute to the future of your favorite projects by funding work that would not otherwise be funded through traditional sources such as foundations.
What is a grant round (GR)?
You can think of a Gitcoin Grant Round as a funding “sprint.” Grant rounds have a well-defined timeline, usually 2-3 weeks, and have a set amount of matching funds that will be released during the round.
For example, for GR14, held earlier in 2022, Gitcoin shared the following details:
- $1 million in matching funds in the main round
- $2M+ in matching funds across 13 ecosystem rounds & 3 cause rounds – Climate, Crypto Advocacy, & DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion)
The “main round” is effectively unrestricted. Gitcoin says “all grants that qualify for matching funding receive funds from the main pool – in other words, these funds are the least restrictive, and grantees need only ensure their grant is active to be eligible for matching funds.”
On the other hand, “ecosystem rounds” focus on particular parts of the public goods ecosystem, and have pools of matching funding that are supplemental to the main round. For example, Unlock Protocol contributes to an ecosystem round that funds projects that are building on Unlock Protocol.
“Cause rounds” are aimed at driving impact in areas that are important to the public and society.
How are Gitcoin Grants funded?
Gitcoin Grants are funded by individuals and organizations that make donations to the Gitcoin Grants pool. Additionally, a variety of other sources, including philanthropists, foundations, and corporations support Gitcoin Grants.
Projects apply for grants and support from their community, in a manner that is similar is some ways to a Kickstarter campaign. That community funding can be matched by supporters (like Unlock Protocol and many others) that match community grants using Quadratic Funding.
Matching grant amounts based on Quadratic Funding depend heavily on the number of community supporters of a project, not just the amount of dollars raised. So, a project that raises $100 from just one supporter will receive a much smaller matching grant than another project that raises that same total amount of $100, but instead raises it from ten supporters who gave $10 each.
TIP: Aim for bringing in more contributors and a wider breadth of support, even if each individual is only able to support the grant with only a few dollars. Seriously…$5 or $10 towards a project per contributor goes a long way.
The bottom line: If you are considering applying for a Gitcoin Grant, make sure to activate your community as widely as possible and get as many people to contribute as possible. The breadth of support from your community heavily influences a project’s matching grants potential.
Who is eligible for Gitcoin Grants?
One can apply for a Gitcoin Grant for nearly any project or organization that is making an impact with technology in the public interest. Projects that can be considered “public goods” (e.g. open to use by anyone, and where one individual’s use of the project does not reduce availability for others) are great candidates.
What types of projects have received Gitcoin Grants in the past?
Gitcoin Grants cover a wide spectrum of public goods that include software, tools, digital infrastructure, media, and communities. Gitcoin states “If the project is freely available to everyone and has a positive impact on the world, it’s probably good to go!”
In the past, projects such as Bloom Network (grant), a climate action network with on-the-ground DAOs and an online social network that helps more people find and participate in regenerative actions, have been active participants in the Gitcoin Grant process. Bloom Network has raised over $80k to date across multiple Gitcoin Grant rounds, and is implementing member subscription NFTs using Unlock Protocol.
Similarly, projects from the wider DEI cause round such as the Women Build Web3 Developer Accelerator (grant) turned $4,781 in contributions from 246 supporters into over $33k in funds for their project once matching funds were applied.
Examples of successful Gitcoin Grant proposals
Since 2019, Gitcoin Grants has supported over 2,700 projects. So what makes a great proposal? Here are examples of a number of grant proposals that have been successful.
- Coin Center — educating policy makers about public blockchains ($892k raised)
- Dark Forest ($436k raised)
- Rotki — The portfolio tracker that protects your privacy ($391k raised)
- The Tor Project ($312k raised)
- Fight for the Future — defending human rights in decentralized tech, crypto, and government regulation ($105k raised)
- Bloom Network ($80k raised)
You can see more past grant descriptions here.
How does someone apply for a Gitcoin Grant?
Create a login at https://gitcoin.co/grants/new and submit your grant proposal. Have the following items ready:
- Name and description of your project
- Your project’s logo
- Links to your project’s online presence (e.g. project website, Twitter handle, Github, etc.)
- Project team member Twitter handles
- Project funding stage (e.g. the project has/has not received prior funding)
- Which areas of Gitcoin funding your project may be eligible for (e.g. Unlock Protocol or other technology ecosystem rounds, DEI, Climate, etc.)
- Which blockchain you’d like to receive grant funds on, if awarded
Projects of all types are eligible to receive funding. Many projects receive funding in multiple funding rounds, and from multiple grant pools. Projects with track records of delivery that have delivered against their past grant rewards are typically viewed very favorably.
What is the timeline for Gitcoin GR15?
From now until August 31, 2022 is the best time to submit your grant proposal and start to get your community excited to support it once contributions open at https://gitcoin.co. The earlier you can get your grant proposal in and listed, the better. Then things really get rolling in September.
Key dates for GR15
- September 6, 2022: Last day to promote your grant proposal to your community before contributions open
- September 7, 2022: Kickoff for accepting contributions
- September 15, 2022: Last day to submit a late grant proposal
- September 22, 2022: Close of contributions
- September 28, 2022: Final grant awards are ratified and grant award notification
- October 3, 2022: Payouts sent to grantees
Running up to opening of the contribution period — and throughout it — it’s important to reach out to your community multiple times to let them know about your grant! Remember, lots of smaller contributions from lots of contributors weighs better in the Quadratic Funding matching than only receiving a handful of larger contributions. Breadth of community engagement is the key.
Get your grant proposal in early, and then reach out to your community multiple times between now and the closing of the contribution window to get as many individuals contributing to your grant as possible. Numbers matter.
Gitcoin Grants can be a great way to take a project to the next level. And, as a reminder, existing projects are viewed very favorably. So, if you have an existing project that is a public good, consider submitting it for a Gitcoin Grant and see if your community and the community of Gitcoin Grant funders can help take it to the next level!
Unlock Protocol has sponsored previous Gitcoin Grants rounds, including GR14.