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The Evolution of Impact DAOs | State of the DAOs
You're reading State of the DAOs, the high-signal low-noise newsletter for understanding DAOs.
You know the DAO space is maturing when we have other DAOs applying the rigors of social science to trying to understand how to build an organization that is both growth-oriented and sustainable. Such is the case with Impact DAO Media, an organization dedicated to uncovering what makes Impact DAOs work.
In 2022, Impact DAO Media completed a study of twelve Impact DAOs, and they are gearing up for an even larger study this year. The first study found, among other things, that “Impact DAOs tend to emphasize relationships, community, and aligning around values over financial gain…. [and] Impact DAOs rely on a mix of web3 and web2 tools. Web3 tools are for governance and decentralized payments, while web2 tools are still the go-to tools for collaboration and communication.” Sounds familiar.
In addition, Impact DAO Media has launched an Impact DAO course and are building out fiat-space communities to bring awareness around the power of these new organizations. Impact DAO hopes that by “understanding their DNA and enabling their growth, we can help shape a more sustainable and equitable future for all.”
This week’s DAO Spotlight focuses on ReFi DAO, an organization dedicated to rejuvenating the planet through a global regenerative economy, and we conclude, as always, with a TL;DR on some of the most recent DAO ecosystem takes and thought pieces, making it easy for you to cut through the noise and learn everything you need to know about the current state of the DAOs.
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The Evolution of Impact DAOs
Research and Education Help Build a More Sustainable and Equitable Future
Impact DAOs are the youngest category of DAOs. While they have diverse objectives, they share a common purpose: to coordinate individuals online to make a real-world impact on people and the planet.
As the world faces increasingly complex and interconnected challenges, Impact DAOs offer a new model for collaboration and collective action.
By studying their structures, operations, and achievements, we can learn valuable lessons that can help us shape a more sustainable and equitable future.
Impact DAO Media: Origins
These criteria included being purpose-driven (integrity) and having been in operation for at least five months (longevity). In other words, we wanted to understand how real Impact DAOs that actually worked - worked!
So what did we find?
The DNA of Impact DAOs
Priorities: Impact DAOs tend to emphasize relationships, community, and aligning around values over financial gain.
Design: Organizationally, Impact DAOs are distributed, remote, transparent, and use collective governance to achieve consensus on key decisions. The structure and size of core teams and contributors depend on the DAO’s goals and level of maturity.
Technology: Impact DAOs rely on a mix of web3 and web2 tools. Web3 tools are for governance and decentralized payments, while web2 tools are still the go-to tools for collaboration and communication.
Leadership: Impact DAOs are not leaderless – they have leaders, but not bosses.
Tokenomics: Tokenomics can incentivize participation, raise funds, and align member interests. However, it is also an evolving science and should be pursued with the mission of the Impact DAO foremost in mind.
Recruiting: Filling roles in Impact DAOs often takes place within the community, but specialized roles may use traditional channels.
Decentralization: Impact DAOs are on a journey towards decentralization, learning and improving every day.
The Evolving World of Impact DAOs
One year on, we are gearing up to launch a bigger and better study into the evolved world of Impact DAOs.
Our early research shows that the space has grown phenomenally, with over 100 Impact DAOs that have been operating for one year or more. Impact DAO builders often design from first principles, and so the governance model is constantly evolving.
The second phase of Impact DAO Research will study 16 DAOs carefully selected from an initial, crowdsourced list of over 70 Impact DAOs. To reflect how the space has developed, we’ve expanded the list of categories.
🚀 Enabler: Meta DAOs providing infrastructure support like training, funding, and resources for impact-focused projects.
🌱 Climate: Climate DAOs focus on mitigation efforts in agriculture, carbon credits, land regeneration, and natural asset tokenization.
❤️ Social Impact: Social Impact DAOs work to improve lives through social and financial inclusion, hyper-local mutual aid, and humanitarian aid.
🧬 DeSci: DeSci DAOs concentrate on scientific research, funding, and innovation across various disciplines, including longevity and synthetic biology.
🌐 Network State DAOs: Emerging Impact DAOs are built around network states, emphasizing highly aligned online communities and real-world asset acquisition.
The legendary management consultant Peter Drucker is credited (along with a number of other people, which is always a good sign) with the famous saying, "The best way to predict the future is to create it."
We are excited to announce the launch of an Impact DAO course, designed to educate and empower those interested in creating, joining, or contributing to Impact DAOs. The course will cover essential topics such as DAO fundamentals, governance models, and best practices for building successful Impact DAOs.
In addition, we are establishing a network of Impact DAO nodes to serve as local hubs for community-building, knowledge sharing, and collaboration. Led by advocates and trainers, these nodes will raise awareness about Impact DAOs and provide guidance to aspiring founders and contributors.
A crucial part of the Impact DAO nodes initiative will be organizing in-real-life (IRL) events and spaces, fostering connections among Impact DAO enthusiasts, and promoting collaboration on impactful projects. We hope to see you at one of them!
Pioneering a New Era of Collective Impact
As Impact DAOs continue to evolve and grow, it's essential to continually reevaluate the current and potential future trends in the space. This may include exploring the role of regulatory frameworks, the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning, and the development of more advanced governance models.
Impact DAOs represent a powerful force for change, transcending traditional limitations and embracing a new era of collective impact. By understanding their DNA and enabling their growth, we can help shape a more sustainable and equitable future for all.
🔥 and 🧊 insights from across the DAO ecosystem
🔑 Insights: Examining the idea of DAOs from a DevOps perspective, this article highlights the developments in technology and possible uses for DAOs. It notes how "Everything-as-Code" (EaC) and other current technological advances are extended by DAOs, and it analyses the advantages of programmable agents, programmable property, and programmable contracts within DAOs.
DAOs are an outgrowth of technology trends such as "Everything-as-Code," which treats all aspects of software development, operations, and infrastructure as code, resulting in systems that are repeatable, scalable, de-risked, auditable, and version-controlled.
DAOs are organizations reduced to their most basic interface, similar to abstract APIs, allowing mathematically pure models of organizational functioning and control.
Programmable agents, programmable property, and programmable contracts are some of the technical features of DAOs that enable trustless programmability, the replication of governance systems, the creation of tokens with intrinsic value, and the creation of on-chain organizations governed by impenetrable smart contracts.
In the enterprise space, DAOs can complement traditional big tech by extending collectibles, loyalty programs, private access, and stakeholder engagement, providing a continuum of stakeholder ownership and empowerment.
🔑 Insights: This analysis reviews recent events out of Aave, where the community held an election to select a delegate for a three-month term. TokenLogic emerged as the winner of the Snapshot election, followed by StableLab, and Fire Eyes. Some takeaways include:
The Voting Power Whales, who are the top holders of voting power, significantly influenced the election outcome, as observed on the election dashboard hosted on Flipside. A detailed Pivotality Report revealed that Blockworks Research would have been elected if the Voting Power Whales had not participated.
A Sankey diagram reveals that most candidate delegates did not cast a vote, except for Flipside Crypto, who evenly distributed their votes across TokenLogic, StableLab, FranklinDAO, Blockworks Research, ConsenSys, and Curia, excluding themselves. Additionally, Llama allocated their votes to TokenLogic and Flipside Crypto.
An analysis of the election revealed involvement from new holders and non-participating holders, indicating that a large number of relatively new AAVE token holders who were not accustomed to on-chain governance actively participated in the proposal.
Author: Makoto Takahiro
🔑 Insights: Some DAOs have received recognition for stacking up funds in their treasuries. However, as expected in an autonomous organization, not all of the participants of the DAO have pure intentions. Some of them (known as money grabbers) relentlessly use various tactics to deceive and manipulate the system, and eventually siphon funds from the treasuries.
This article provides a detailed interview with an anonymous money grabber who explains how and where these malicious activities are carried out. Among the revelations:
The ‘actor’ explains their crypto background and highlights the importance of presenting themselves as a positive contributor looking to better the DAO, whereas they strategize on how to exploit the gaps and weaknesses present in the community.
The interview also discusses how these actors infiltrate the system, participate in governance, and invest their time and resources to build trust with the community admins.
Overall, the story showcases the challenges that many DAOs face in an attempt to ensure security and protect their integrity.
Going forward, there may be an increase in the need for decentralized communities to find ways to prevent scammer contributors from draining their treasuries.
Author: Jihad Esmail
🔑 Insights: DAOs are primarily concerned with the funding of community projects to increase a brand or mission. However, how tokenized communities reach economic sustainability is not prescribed by their form. Experiments with new and old economic models will be absolutely critical to their development and proliferation.
The treasury diversification model has proven to be the most straightforward path to liquidity for many communities.
Perpetual auctions can offer a predictable and transparent pricing mechanism, helping to attract investors and maintain a healthy market for the token.
Subscription access tokens can encourage users to participate more actively in the community, driving value and fostering growth.
A one-time payment structure may not provide a sustainable revenue stream for the DAO, and early adopters may have disproportionate influence over decision making.
Effective due diligence and risk management are crucial in a project-based ownership-sharing model, as the DAO must carefully evaluate each project's potential before committing funds.
DAO Spotlight: ReFi DAO
ReFi DAO is a network that aims to rejuvenate the planet through a global regenerative economy. The organization envisions a future where local startup communities acquire land and tangible assets to create a net zero economy by 2050, in line with the Paris agreement. As a founder-led startup community, ReFi DAO is dedicated to creating a new culture at the intersection of climate action and web3 technology, where trust and coordination enable real-world impact. To achieve this goal, ReFi DAO is developing a new protocol that will allow anyone to participate in this culture and collaborate towards a more regenerative future.
Currently, Earth is faced with the crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and social injustice. This all points to the fact that there is a deeper underlying crises. It also shows that the economic system that we have designed is no longer serving our needs. Luckily we have been forced to think of new ways to solve our problems, and individuals, groups, and institutions are pitching in to help in any way they can, working to prevent us from reaching a complete biosphere breakdown.
To address the pressing issues facing the planet today, ReFi DAO recognizes the need for a fundamental redesign of our currency, aligned with their core pillars:
Promoting climate stability by reducing and eliminating greenhouse gas emissions through carbon markets.
Restoring ecosystems by promoting biological diversity, which can be traded on carbon market infrastructure.
Instituting social justice by building regenerative local economies that prioritize community well-being.
ReFi DAO has established a thriving ecosystem that has attracted top-tier founders, hosted numerous events, onboarded many groups, closed deals, and garnered support from over 30 like-minded investors. Through this journey, the organization gained a critical insight that proved key to realizing their vision of regeneration at scale: by bringing together all the pieces of the puzzle, they can create a global network that is rooted in local startup communities, working together to take collective action towards a regenerative future.