In recent years the Web3 space, known for its innovation and community driven approaches, has witnessed a significant shift in its approach to funding and supporting projects. We have identified more than 150 funding opportunities since we began researching them in October 2023, and new grant programs are continuously emerging. For those primarily interested in seeing the list of grants, you’ll find it HERE and also towards the end of this post, serving as a direct gateway to exploring these opportunities further. This post is the first part of a two part series on what we’ve learned in our research on available grant programs in Web3.
Exploring the realm of Web3, we’ve found many grant opportunities, each promising a great potential in the digital frontier. This field, rich with unobvious paths, offers a ground for innovation across blockchain technology, decentralized applications (dApps), decentralized finance (DeFi), and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and beyond. Recognizing the importance of these grants, we’ve compiled a list of 151 programs, complete with links and brief descriptions, to guide enthusiasts, developers, and visionaries alike. Additionally, we’ve included a compilation of several Web3 accelerators and ventures as a bonus, offering support to projects in this space.
The Web3 grants environment offers flexibility and scope, providing the grounds for innovations and community-driven development. Grants help lower the barriers to entry in the Web3 field by offering financial assistance to projects that might otherwise be overlooked. At the same time, critics of the Web3 grants landscape often point to systemic flaws in the way grants are distributed, emphasizing that grant committees often give preference to marketing and networking projects rather than technical ones.
The array of financial support mechanisms in Web3 is extensive, ranging from the direct “forward looking” grants to retrospective grants, Quadratic Funding platforms (Gitcoin, Giveth, DoraHacks, Clr.fund, Octant and etc.), hackathons, accelerators, incubators, villages and venture capital (VC) investments. The methods used to distribute grants in the web3 space are quite diverse. They include a range of approaches, from custom forms and surveys to discussions in governance forums and activities on GitHub. This variety makes it challenging to identify a clear, consistent method for allocating and earning grants.
Grant programs in web3 vary greatly in their focus and coverage. Grant amounts range from $1,000 to $500,000 USD. Most of the projects use their own currency to distribute the prizes. Some are highly specific, targeting Requests for Proposals (RFPs) that cater to the unique needs of a particular community or blockchain. There’s a growing number of tools being developed to help establish and manage grant programs (E.g. Gitcoin Grants Stack, Granted, Questbook). Other grant programs are more open-ended, supporting projects that contribute to the broader goal of a decentralized economy or the creation of useful open-source tools for protocol participants.
The Web3 grants movement is witnessing a wave of collaborations, setting the stage for a more connected, decentralized, and intelligent digital world. The DFINITY Foundation, a major contributor to the Internet Computer Blockchain (ICP), has recently announced a joint initiative with SingularityNET, the leading decentralized AI marketplace running on blockchain. The Swarm Foundation has joined forces with Polygon Village: the collaboration will unfold in several steps, starting with the convergence of innovative projects under the Swarm 2.0 Grant Wave & Data Sponsorship program and the Polygon Village Voucher program. As the premier hackathon for the EVM and Cosmos web3 domains, Hacksecret 2024 focuses on dApps that leverage the Secret Network’s confidential smart contracts, but also encourages development using Shade.js. Projects making use of Shade will get more funding. CoinDCX, in collaboration with the Solana Foundation and Superteam, has unveiled a Rs 25 crore grant program, aimed at fostering the development of web3 developers in India.
There is a significant journey ahead in refining the grants programs to become efficient and transparent means to support the Web3 initiatives that communities truly value. The recent Retroactive Public Goods Funding initiative by Optimism has sparked widespread debate, highlighting critical issues in current cryptocurrency funding mechanisms. The key points of discussions included the following concerns: metrics related to on-chain activity are not working (tokens are distributed to the projects that have less on-chain activity); most of current crypto funding mechanisms are geared towards rewarding the “talkers” not actual builders. This raised many questions about the sustainability of grants. Additionally, a significant concern was raised about the fact that the current funding programs are not providing strong incentives to onboard and retain talented core protocol contributors over the long term. This is particularly problematic given the growing number of ecosystems being developed on blockchains, where the foundational protocol work, crucial to the success of these projects, is not receiving adequate value return.
Last year, a study examining over $1 billion in Web3 grants by researchers Mashal Waqar and Eugene Leventhal revealed concerns about governance and the need for better transparency and accessibility in grant programs. The study highlighted that despite the large sums committed, there was a lack of clarity around the operation, impact assessment, and review processes of these grant programs. Issues such as diversity, equality, and inclusion; bias and fairness; and community sentiment and engagement were identified as challenges faced by these programs. The study also emphasized the importance of grantee support and the need for clarity of purpose, transparency, and accountability in grant program effectiveness.
In traditional sectors, funding often focuses on direct contributions to profits or treasury. We believe that In the context of Web3 ecosystems, there’s a need for a more holistic approach. This involves establishing funding mechanisms that support the builders as well as ecosystem participants and the community in crucial activities like security audits and consultations. Thus far, pinpointing financial support specifically for security consulting within the scope of Web 3 grants for grantees and ecosystems has proven elusive.
Drawing from our experience in the other fundraising fields (eg. for civil society projects or research projects), we find the Web3 grants landscape to be significantly more diverse and full of opportunities compared to traditional sectors. There are noticeable efforts towards making the process of granting funds more standardized, transparent, and efficient. We are optimistic that this trend towards a more democratic method of grant distribution will continue. As the Web3 ecosystems flourish, largely due to the builders who utilize its technologies, it’s crucial to ensure that every step is taken to provide users with the safest and most secure experience. This includes conducting thorough audits, which are imperative regardless of the sophistication of the smart contract language or the skill level of the developers using it.
As promised, you can access the list here. There is no charge to download the document, but we kindly request your support in creating and maintaining it. If you wish to contribute to these efforts, please consider making a donation of any amount you see fit using this PayPal link. If you are interested in exploring potential grant programs we can target together, please do not hesitate to reach out to us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay tuned for the upcoming second part of this blog, ‘The State of Grant Funding for Web3 Security.