[TEMP-CHECK] Further Decentralising the Aave Grants DAO

Hello, thanks @Kene_StableLab for publishing this proposal.

With the ACI, we have the firm belief that AGD can be optimized, but we believe the current proposition is not the best path forward for achieving this.

  • We’re against grant reviewers elections. It’ll lead to “beauty contest” elections not focused on skill, we had precedence with the first aave guardian fiasco. We don’t want to repeat this. The ACI thinks there’s no issue at all with the current committee. We should elect a grant leader and attribute a budget, then this leader should be free to assemble a committee as they see fit.

  • We’re pretty surprised an entity such as AGD is not a legal person yet, @0xbilll get your ducks in a row asap. You’re managing millions.

  • we’re supportive of @0xbilll work and trackrecord, the Grant DAO had hit and misses but it seems nominal, the AGD is not harmony grants and hasn’t funded any blueDAO-grade grifters to my knowledge. We noticed recent changes inside the AGD for the best and we welcome the more RFP oriented approach

  • I have the feeling AGD is a “world” on it’s own. I think it’ll be beneficial for relevant service providers & AGD to meet regularly & have a more direct channel of communication to sync vision and DAO needs. As pointed out by @eboado some grants “miss” could be attributed to a lack of communication & sync.

  • The questbook benefits don’t seem clear enough to favor a migration. we’re against this.

  • we’re supportive of AGD independence. As @Hazbobo pointed out, a large part of AGD budget & resources are used as a proxy to fund event/merch/marketing by third-party entities, with employees of both structures working for one and then for the other seamlessly.

We believe that section of activities has yielded excellent results and we can’t wait to vibes in Instanbul, but it’s unacceptable, inefficient & create an independence issue that these budgets are not segregated.

The Grant DAO is meant to fund grants, and we will be supportive of a Merch/RaaveDAO proposal but from now on we announce our clear intention to cast NAY vote on any upcoming unsegregated budget proposal.


Disclaimer: Current AGD reviewer, started the OG Aave grants program, previously dev at Aave genesis team. I speak in a personal capacity having been in the grants space and involved in the Aave ecosystem for a few years.

Interesting proposal and discussion (especially the first time posters coming in on this thread!). I’ll try to be clear and up front:

  • The proposal and discussion leads me to believe that the OP has never run a grants program, participated in a grants program, or evaluated early stage projects (at scale).
  • The suggestions in the proposal sound logical (and academic), and lack some real world experience of what the impacts or benefits of the proposal would bring.
  • However there are some interesting points that could be seen as feedback for AGD, which I’m sure will be taken into account by various people.

If we put aside events and merch funding for a second, Grants funding is about providing support to projects and services that help grow the Aave ecosystem. It is not about transparency or ‘decentralisation’ of the process or to have every community member evaluating every project that comes into the pipeline. Grants funding is about providing support to projects, and in turn, helps grow the Aave ecosystem. Due to the nature of grant funding, a lot of the projects are speculative. Yes, some projects may not become successful, but they still add to the ecosystem via knowledge, sometimes open source code, and general awareness. It is easy to retroactively call a grant ‘bad’ when the project has already failed, but it is much more difficult to evaluate projects and support them when their success is not so clear. This requires expertise and experience from the reviewers, who need to evaluate it independently in a non-political manner, without the noise from potential ‘lobbying’ or perceived transparency of a ‘360’ view.

A well functioning grants team only works well if the team is nimble, can move fast, and act independently. Less (processes) is better in this case.

Transparency comes into play during the renewal of AGD’s budget, which Bill (and previously Shreyas) have done a great job with on the forums. If there is more transparency of AGD’s spending or processes, then it should be asked/enquired about at these times. More information while AGD is executing is not necessarily helpful or beneficial for the community, as it creates distractions and requires context and explanations, which would further distract the AGD team and community. Too many chefs in the kitchen… etc

Having said that, OP brings up an important point about reviewer terms. I’m supportive of some type of evaluation of reviewers and more involvement from qualified community members. This, however, is a nuanced topic as has already been mentioned by others (knowledge, expertise, experience, etc). Decentralisation is a progressive process, and like the Aave DAO itself, AGD should be progressively decentralised slowly and purposefully. Adding or removing reviewers, or changing the process of how that is done, should definitely become more clearer for everyone, but it shouldn’t be rushed. I would support a pilot program of bringing on 2-3 reviewers via a new process.

Last point about Questbook (or any other grants software): OP has shilled Questbook to other communities so that makes me question their underlying motives and interests. Besides AGD having already tried Questbook and deciding not to continue with it, why would AGD use an on-chain grants platform? OP mentions Snapshot and other tools, but those tools solve actual real world problems for the DAO. Questbook doesn’t solve any problems for the DAO (although it may for other orgs), and just adds further complexity.
AGD has great custom tooling built in-house. There is no need for extra complexity and layers to be added to the process, let alone extra expenditures. The custom tooling already enables a lot of transparency, as can be seen on Funded grants. If more info on grants is needed, I’m sure the AGD team could implement it, since it is custom tooling and they can move really fast.


First time poster. Disclaimers for full transparency: I (twitter) work at Metagov, a governance research non-profit, and kicked off the State of Web3 grants report that Mashal and I are running and that’s supported by Gitcoin and Rich Brown, a private backer. Don’t have any direct involvement in Aave, ADG, or related companies. I have applied, unsuccessfully, for some research grants and will try again the future.

Also, as part of the research for the report, we did interview @0xbilll to represent ADG and we interviewed someone from the Questbook team who ran Compound’s CGP 2.0.

Jumping in with some points of comparison. In terms of the reviewers being elected, I see two points coming up, though the main focus is on the latter:

  1. Does letting the community elect reviewers = decentralizing ADG more?
  2. Will doing so be beneficial for ADG?

1) Community Voting and Decentralization

On the surface, it would seem so. To decentralize, as per the Cambridge dictionary (the paragon of web3 knowledge…) = “to move the control of an organization or government from a single place to several smaller ones.” However, it can be argued that this view of decentralization is actually distracting from that fact that a) not everyone will vote and b) the loudest voices / most popular individuals might be liklier to win purely due to social dynamics. Don’t want to dwell on this as this is more interesting from an ideological or intellectual perspective, but doesn’t necessarily speak to positive results.

2) Will Community Voting on Reviewers Yield Positive Results.

The boring answer is, it depends. From what I’ve seen on the Compound forums (pitch, update), it seems to have gone well in CGP 2.0 ran by Questbook. I haven’t talked to anyone in the Compound community directly, so can’t speak in detail, just reflecting back what I’m reading.

To the points that @fig and MarcZeller brought up about new software needing to solve a problem, it clearly did for CGP - they didn’t have a program or existing grants software stack so the option of those coming together and being managed externally was a benefit. From what I last read, CGP 2.0 is wrapping up and is one of three proposals being explored for CGP 3.0 - one from Questbook, one from AlphaGrowth, one from Alastor and web3 studios.

Correction: It seems as though AlphaGrowth is actually pivoting more towards of a general growth focus and it may just be Questbook proposing to run 3.0.

I digress.

If there’s a desire to try and decentralize the election process, one option is to directly allow the community to vote, though some of those concerns were brought up.

Another option (and apologies if Aave has something like this outside of ADG and I’m just showing my ignorance) is to try to build some community committees who have shown expertise in specific areas (e.g. dapps, infrastructure, dev tooling, community, MEV, whatever). Those committees can be tapped for things such as electing reviewers (or at the very least suggesting to the program lead), providing an additional layer of review for appropriately sized projects (or maybe even manage small budgets in their domain), or helping to craft RFPs alongside the current set of reviewers. Or a whole bunch of other options depending on how some would structure it.

It is also important to call out what the likes of EF, and Solana Foundation, and Uni Foundation do. Namely, they hire the teams they see fit with mandates to execute budgets, and those grants teams are expected to assemble the best review team they can. We don’t have enough data to try and claim what works better and what doesn’t and focusing on whether or not they’re decentralized is a different conversation altogether (back to #1 and should be separated from the conversation of what can provide tangible benefits).

At the end of the day, there is no single ‘right answer’ here. Given that Aave is more established, has a good reputation, and manages a reasonable budget, it is understandable to not want to change quickly if there isn’t a burning problem to solve. Change can be incremental, which can avoid missteps and unintended negative consequences. Aave is also on the more open / interactive with community side, which presents an interesting tension if there is a strong push to allow community voting (assuming it stays a binary yes / no, which hopefully if this does go to vote, at least one other option for ‘plan an experiment within some set time frame’ or something else to add more nuance).

Excited to see how this plays out. Apologies if I’m commenting on something y’all have moved on from but seemed like an interesting topic so wanted to jump in. Thanks for being an active community with interesting discussions!

Thank you Marc for acknowledging that the AGD can be further optimised. Really appreciate it.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Term elections for choosing capital allocators from the community is a well-established norm in various reputed ecosystems such as ENS DAO, Gitcoin etc. By implementing a more rigorous and clearly defined set of criteria for selection, an election process would offer a fair and unbiased chance for community members, including those who are new contributors and proposers, to join the AGD team and contribute meaningfully to the DAO. This proposal is open to initiating the election process for the Grants Lead role through this approach and subsequently extending the decentralized selection process to include other members of the AGD team over time.

Acknowledging the efforts of the existing AGD team, we propose that the AGD team incorporate impact metrics with a stronger focus on value creation, such as Total Value Locked (TVL) and new users onboarded in its monthly reports. These metrics give a more objective view of impact created when compared with metrics such as project completion, number of projects funded. As the allocation of a substantial budget is a significant decision, we propose that the DAO should conduct thorough due diligence to evaluate the potential return on investment.

This proposal advocates for a design in which the AGD team’s accountability, and performance is tied to the expertise of the team members, value creation and objective impact metrics. This framework allows for their retention or replacement based on objective metrics, rather than subjective measures such as leveraging relationships, and popularity.

As specified earlier, the major reason for asking for a change of tooling is to grant the Aave Community more transparency into the Aave Grants Pipeline, and the individual performance of reviewers, considering the size of funds that the AGD is tasked with distributing, transparency is essential.

The tool that should be used for this is definitely up for debate, from the sentiment gathered from this proposal we believe that Vendors should be allowed to pitch themselves in a separate proposal and the DAO should decide which tooling should be used to grant more transparency into the AGD’s operations.


Thank you daveytea for your comments and feedback.

StableLab possesses extensive experience in managing and participating in governance for reputed ecosystems like Maker DAO, Hop, Safe, and Balancer. We have made substantial contributions to enhancing the governance mechanisms of these ecosystems and are strong proponents of decentralized decision-making, community engagement, and transparency.

We appreciate the recognition of the enhancements proposed for the AGD and are open to collaborating with the AGD team to implement these improvements.

Thank you for highlighting this daveytea. We also agree that requiring every proposal to be commented, and voted on by the entire community can result in voter fatigue and low participation and is not the optimal approach, However, a transparent process empowers the community to keep on oversight on what proposals are getting accepted, rejected, funded and get a deeper insight into the review parameters and process. Additionally, the proposal does not advocate for community voting on every proposal, but for an opportunity for the community members to participate in the decision making process as part of AGD based on their expertise.

The objective of the grants program is to attract builders who will contribute to protocol’s value creation. However, accepting a proposal, funding it, milestone completion rate although important are tied to task completion. The AGD team’s mandate should be tied to funding proposals that add tangible value to Aave and not merely task completion. We agree that Grants funding is about providing support to projects and services that help grow the Aave ecosystem. These growth parameters should be objective and tied to tangible value creation to better evaluate the performance of AGD, and return on investment. Lastly, the objective of additional transparency is not to be correct with every accepted/funded proposal, but to be less wrong. A transparent process will empower the community to ask the right questions and allow for constructive feedback, thus improving further iterations of AGD. Additional deliberation and community participation is better than having none.

Considering that the grants are budgeted, and funded through the Aave DAOs treasury, transparency should be a default feature of the Aave Grants Program and not a permissioned one. We want to re-emphasis that a transparent process will empower the community to ask the right questions and allow for constructive feedback, thus improving further iterations of AGD.

Thank you for the acknowledgement of having reviewer terms and allowing for additional opportunities for community members to participate in the review process as part of AGD. We are open to sharing our inputs in the path to decentralisation considering that these discussions started almost 2 years ago.

We and other active community members, and delegates have put forth and deliberated various suggestions encompassing the offerings of diverse service providers. This isn’t indicative of shilling. Our commitment to advocating proposals and service providers that we believe will contribute positively to the DAO remains steadfast, and we’re receptive to the community’s input in this regard.

As specified earlier, the major reason for asking for a change of tooling is to grant the Aave Community more transparency into the Aave Grants Pipeline, and the individual performance of reviewers, considering the size of funds that the AGD is tasked with distributing, transparency is essential. The tool that should be used for this is definitely up for debate, from the sentiment gathered from this proposal we believe that Vendors should be allowed to pitch themselves in a separate proposal and the DAO should decide which tooling should be used to grant more transparency into the AGD’s operations.

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I’m actually somewhat familiar with Questbook as we ran a pilot with them earlier in the year . After running the pilot we did not continue with Questbook due to poor results compared with our existing technology stack (Airtable with integrations + automations) and the experience highlighted the value of the setup we had built along with being in control of it.
Review times took longer and we did not see any engagement from the community. With the current amount of applications we receive (~30 a week) the Questbook UX was not a sophisticated enough tool to manage the tracking, reviewing, and interviewing of applications.

I’m Subhash from Questbook, the author of Questbook’s pilot proposal. We would like to thank the AGD team members and @0xbilll for sharing their valuable and actionable feedback through the pilot. The suggestions shared by the AGD team during the pilot have played a significant role in enhancing Questbook as a grants orchestration tool, resulting in the new version releases and product improvements.

Some of the major improvements include:

1. Allowing anyone from the community to comment, and share their views on the submitted proposals

Anyone from the community can review and comment on proposals

2. Conducting objective reviews through a customized evaluation rubric and rubric scores in a transparent manner before making a decision

Review Proposals Using Evaluation Rubric

3. Empowering review teams to propose, setup interviews with proposers by sharing Calendly links through encrypted comments

Share Calendly Links with Proposers

4. Performing batch actions such as accepting, rejecting, requesting resubmissions, and making payouts for multiple proposals at once

Send Batch Updates or Make Batch Payouts to Builders

Send Batch Updates or Make Batch Payouts to Builders

5. Making milestone-based payouts to accepted proposals in stables, native token directly from the multi-sig safe

Make Milestone Based Payouts Through Multi - Sig Wallet

While we respect AGD’s decision to not go ahead with us after the pilot, we have made significant efforts towards incorporating their feedback as part of our subsequent version releases and continuous improvements. In terms of scale, TON grants team uses Questbook to manage 30+ proposals per week and the Polygon Grants team used Questbook to evaluate more than 200 proposals per month.
Furthermore, following the pilot phase, we have led Compound Grants Program 2.0 and will soon invite proposals for the Arbitrum Community Grants Program. We are open to receiving further inputs from the AGD team and collaborating with them to fund public goods, and grants in a manner that prioritizes community involvement, transparency, impact, accountability and efficiency.

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