Project Verification Process Development

I think this is a really important point and speaks to self-regulation. Those that make the effort and contribute are more likely to ‘rise to the top’.

On the flip side, Giveth wants the platform to become an important source of funding for projects so a thorough understanding is needed of the balance between what donors want to see and the resources that projects have for updates and documenting. If projects don’t update to the platform requirements they are not verified (or no longer verified), they are unlikely to maximise donations and Giveth is unlikely to become a significant funding stream: impacting growth and impact of the platform. Trust points is a good idea to incentivise for more regular updates and encourage contribution platform growth.

What info does Giveth have on what donors want to see and what projects are willing to contribute in terms of updates etc?

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After a few days of reflection and talking with other community members, I believe that there are several things we are talking about and they do not necessarily need to overlap and cross-regulate:

  1. Verificaiton - basic process to verify that the project is “legit” in the eyes of the community

  2. Platform engagement - if a project is not engaged enough, that doesn’t mean that they are not “legit”. Therefore, regular updates on the platform should not affect project verification status but rather perhaps in terms of reward, projects will be less rewarded in some way and more rewarded if they are more active.

  3. Donor report - this is when it needs to be clear that Giveth is not the donor but rather a platform for donors to donate and the decision and accountability is on the donor who to donate and it’s also theirs (not Giveth’s) responsibility to acquire reports (in whatever interval they want) from the project owners. In general, this is a great relationship building between donors and projects directly which should be welcomed by both and if the reports cannot satisfy donors, they will not donate. In general, the donor report part should be out side of scope for Giveth and it will self-regulate when donors are provided guidance and opportunity to ask from project owners directly. Project owners can also choose to provide regular donor updates directly to their donors.

If we look at these three areas separately. We soon find out that the proposed idea to use constant updates as a donor report/platform engagement tool to maintain project verification status may not be the best solution (high maintenance and may provide low efficiency and more bureaucracy on the part of both Giveth and the projects).

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Thank you for recording your conversation on March 2nd. It was very insightful for me, and I feel I understand Giveth better now. Here are few thoughts how things might become more intuitive for both projects/organizations and donors:

Project categories

Giveth is currently distinguishing projects into two categories: unverified and verified. Maybe, however, three categories or levels might be needed:

  1. Level A (“Standard”?): A project owner has created a project and has done nothing more than that, maybe to just test the platform (or crypto in general).
  2. Level B (“Reward”?): A project owner wants to signal “I am legit” to give donors confidence. And to test this GIV thing. Donors receive GIV.
  3. Level C (“Microeconomy”?): A project owner is interested in building a actual microeconomy for a project. He or she is willing to be more engaged on the platform or make other additional efforts to make that possible. Donors receive GIV.

Level A and B is what 99% of nonprofits understand and why they might come to Giveth in the first place. It is also how Giveth mainly presents itself on the front page (“Donate directly to social good projects with zero added fees.”).

Level C is very complex and comes with expectations around engagement from Giveth’s side that are not intuitive for most nonprofits. They usually want to keep donor engagement to a minimum. After all, they have other stuff to do. But if they understand the potential, they might actually be willing to become really engaged in the community.

The current status “verified” is a blend of B and C, and causes some confusion (at least for me).

In terms of requirements for the different levels, it could look like this:

  1. Level A (“Standard”?): Project get submitted, no checks. That’s it. Donors can give if they want.
  2. Level B (“Reward”?): Projects gets submitted. If it is a registered nonprofit anywhere, it submits that registration certificate plus a link to an annual report or so and is thereby accepted. If the project is not a registered charity, Giveth checks for social good focus (not always easy, but doable), and the project has to give a general update every six months or so. Yes, that is asymmetric, but I would find this a good compromise between providing some “proof” of legitimacy and not creating an extra burden for registered nonprofits who already went through some kind of certification. After all, at this level Giveth grants GIV tokens, basically the equivalent to the state giving tax breaks.
  3. Level C (“Microeconomy”?): Projects on that level have to be engaged in the community, no matter if they are registered or unregistered. Giveth communicates very clearly the expectations to reach and maintain that level. Maybe donors should receive more GIV for donating to project on that level. That would create an additional incentive for projects to go beyond level B.

Goal of Giveth

I understand that Giveth’s eventual goal is to get as many projects as possible to level C. I guess there are two strategies to get there:

  • Market the platform very strongly around levels A and B to get loads of projects on the platform. Then try to crypto-educate and help them to “upgrade” to level C over time.
  • Or: Minimize level A and B. Try to be exclusive from the start and not even pretend that much to be the crypto version of GoFundMe. Instead target directly only projects that already understand the more complex concepts.

I think Giveth should do the first one.

An alternative could be to partner with someone who is really good at levels A/B already. Giveth could, for example, be something like a plugin for other donations platforms. So that successful projects there can aim even higher and build their own economy.

Wording

It seems to me that some of the misunderstandings come from the word “verified” itself. It might be an interesting idea to dispense with it altogether. On other platforms, not being “verified” means that you are not really trustworthy. But that seems to be only one aspect of what Giveth is trying to signal here.

I think it’s ok to communicate that Level A is the lowest step of a ladder. But not in a way that discredits them in the eyes of donors.

Transcending the power asymmetry in giving

Irrespective of the level dicussion above, I think it would be great if Giveth communicated the following points very prominently:

  • We believe that social good initiatives need all the support we can give them. This is why we want to make it as easy as possible for them to receive funding. Giveth will always strive to ask for the minimum of reporting and documentation as possible.
  • For the same reason, Giveth thinks that social good initiatives need as much flexibility and entrepreneurial freedom as possible. This is why all donations on Giveth going to a project are unrestricted. We do not tell initiatives what to do with it. Just as we do not tell you what to do with your crypto tokens.
  • We believe that tax law should not dictate what we think is good for society. This is why Giveth accepts not only tax-exempt charities but every other entity on its platform: regular companies, individuals, unregistered groups, etc.
  • Let’s help to end “projectitis” in giving! We believe that not everything is “a project” with a beginning and an end. On the contrary: Most social impact comes from organizations that develop expertise and build stable structures over many years and are in it for the long run. This is why Giveth does not talk about “projects” but about “initiatives”.
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I agree there is discrediting that occurs with the use of the word ‘verified’ and conversely the implied 'unverified.

The 3 levels you are suggesting align much better to notion of progressing through levels of a game or club membership: a project demonstrates certain qualities, scores points and advances to the next level. The impression of ‘unverified’ seems to put a project in the relegation zone or in ‘after-school’ detention - addressing the rewording of the levels, particularly the entry level is already inclusive in the game.

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The knowledge / experience gap between Level B & C makes it highly likely that there should be another level. I expect this will become clear
as we progress.

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I agree, this greatly impacts how we develop the product in the future and where we end up. It reminds me of early versions of Giveth, later called Trace, where we tried to address some of these issues, then decided to simplify things. This conversation leaves the impression that we’re going back where we started? Not saying that this is a bad thing, but we should look at this from a broader perspective and how all this shapes the product.

As a verified project owner I find it difficult to provide more frequent updates because we do that annually. In my case this policy will lead to loosing the verified status.

I’m also in favour of this proposal. We started Giveth redesign based on Causes, not projects. We can change the terminology and onboard orgs instead of projects. However, there are some individuals who raise funds for their “projects”, how should we go about that? Maybe we can have these tow categories clearly distinguished on the dapp allowing donors to choose where they want the funds to go.

I’m not in favour of adding more complexity and cognitive load to the user. The goal of Giveth us create such UX where donors trust us upfront and don’t need to think about whether the project is legit or not, only decide where they want the funds to go.

AMEN!

Eventually, we want to get rid of this as well and get to the point where ALL projects / orgs that raise funds on Giveth are verified by default, trustworthy in the eyes of the donor.

After reflection, this is my take on the direction of travel for Giveth, which moves away from the hard verification process and ‘trust’ becomes much more intuitive for donor and ‘project’.

Giveth platform seeks to (this is my understanding from discussions and threads):

  • be community self-regulated
  • be accessible, free of complexity and cognitive overload
  • foster simplicity
  • be cause not project focussed
  • build relationships between donor and cause
  • create donor trust in the platform
  • facilitate equality in the giving of crypto funds to projects without bias to ‘registered’ regulated charities/NGOs
  • be a gateway for projects to GivEconomy and goal of becoming their own DAOs
  • ** allow donors to ‘make up their own mind’ on whether to donate to a project without the bias of whether Giveth ‘promotes’ the project as ‘verified’ with the inference of being legit

Giveth should not be:

  • governing/audit body
  • overly complex administrative verification of rules
  • bureaucratic copy of existing charity models
  • too difficult to explain or understand

The way I see it is that the Giveth’s role is to facilitate and maximise giving with ease by bringing donors and projects together by becoming the expert in:

  • what makes crypto holders donate their funds
  • how to create a successful crypto fundraising page
  • how to facilitate and maintain engagement on fundraising page
  • how to drive traffic to the platform, spread and maintain awareness
  • understanding users and potential users of the platform, how to reach and communicate to them to raise awareness, educate, maintain engagement and ultimately, grow this fabulous community
  • how a profile can create trust and support for their cause to achieve the end game of donation

Giveth cannot become nor wants to become an expert regulator, which is required if it is to assume the responsibility of ‘verifying’ projects on behalf of the donor. I see this as shaky ground of accountability being in the hands of a few and the opposite of decentralisation.

It seems that Giveth should move away from using energy on creating complex verification process (which at times is subjective) or developing rules on how a project should report impact or update donors. And so, through a deep understanding of what engages a donor and connects a cause, Giveth can create expert resources on:

  • how causes can manage fundraising campaigns on the platform to maximise donations
  • how causes can maximise awareness of their campaign through their usual social media platforms (which in turn, will drive traffic to the giveth.io platform)
  • how causes can maximise and maintain engagement on the platform
  • how to make the process fun for both project and donor in order to facilitate education around the GivEconomy and build an engaged collaborative and cohesive Giveth community

The ultimate measure of success has to be the volume of crypto that moves around the Giveth ecosystem and it seems this can only be maximised through the expert facilitation of giving on the platform.

*Giveth could create a checklist of info / links that a project could choose to provide to facilitate ‘trust’ so that interested donors can research further and decide for themselves whether a project is ‘legit’. Remember donors first become interested in causes by connection with the emotion of the cause. They become interested because the profile page has triggered and emotional response.

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Does it make sense to apply a materiality threshold before formal verification kicks in?

YES! This is the UX vision and goal for Giveth.

The rest of your message is spot on @clara_gr

Some great questions to ask ourselves in a design sprint workshop :slight_smile: @msaeedi @Tossynee

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Another question that interests me…

Fraudulent project or violating Giveth’s terms

If a project is found to be fraudulent or fundraising for a cause that violates Giveth’s terms: does Giveth have a responsibility to reimburse donors?

Traditional fundraising platforms and liability to donors

On traditional fundraising platforms, in this situation, donors are refunded. This is easy for the platform as they hold the donated funds and disburse after the fundraising deadline has passed.

Traditional fundraising platforms have a liability to the donor because they have verified the project - usually by doing ID checks on the project fundraising representative through the traditional system of checking bank account, photo id and ‘official’ post associated with the rep.

The liability lies with the platform because the verification system has failed.

Donor due diligence and raising ‘red flags’

What’s also interesting in the traditional fundraising platform model, is that they place an onus on the donor to carry out their own due diligence on the project and provide a checklist as guidance. They encourage potential donors to raise any ‘red flags’ and have a reporting process.

Here’s a couple of links showing what JustGiving and GoFundMe have to say on the matter:

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfund/how-to-crowdfund/justgiving-crowdfunding-safety-tips

Giveth’s accountability to donors (already discussed in this thread)

So that brings me to Giveth – if Giveth is verifying projects through its own checking process, then logically Giveth is accountable to donors in the same way and liable for refunding donors when projects go rogue (and they do!). The problem here is, if I’ve understood correctly, donations go directly to projects’ wallets. Refunds in this situation would have to come from Giveth!

So the problem here is that the financial ‘contract’ is between the donor and project but the accountability ‘contract’ is between the Giveth and donor and burden of financial liability lies with Giveth, leaving the rogue project getting away scot-free with money in their wallet.

The ultimate UX vision and goal of Giveth, in my view, is to make the platform trustworthy, not needing to think whether a project is legit or not, just decide which projects you want to support.

Even though I understand the reasons why we currently have to verify projects, IMHO this is causing a lot of issues and workarounds that we have to do, not to mention the opposite UX we were aiming to achieve on Giveth.

We should have a call and discuss this further.

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Does it make sense to compile a ‘watch-list’ of projects that could have a potential to be irregular with funds, assessed against a basic set of criteria or that have been reported by potential donors of the wider community. I would see this as a human, investigative and sense-checking role rather than system-based.

I think as soon as Giveth start giving Giv tokens back to donors and regard itself as an investor in the nonprofit, it has changed its role from a passive platform to an active donor, hence making it necessary to make sure that the projects are legit. The complete opposite which is remaining a platform probably won’t work anymore with the vision for the GivEconomy unless all Giveth wants is to provide a medium between donors and charities (which is no longer the case).

I’d love to be involved in discussions about this aspect of Giveth and how, with our new donor-centric focus, we are still supporting the accessibility and usability for public good projects that the platform is ultimately here to service.

Still missing so much of the functionality we developed for TRACE; and dreaming of how we can ensure that the transition to building giveth.io at the minimalistic scope then adding features from TRACE to it over time does not get lost…

It feels like with the advent of the GIVeconomy coming at a time when the Giveth.io Dapp is still in a limited scope, it is creating the necessity of implementing technical or excessive human solutions to address the scope limitations.

Maybe my own limited involvement in recent months means I’m not seeing the continuity of a long-term strategy, the evolving changes to it and their drivers… how can we step back and look at where Giveth is diverging from it’s original vision and goals, and whether it’s to improve our offerings, or address technical limitations of the current dapp?

I think a clear goal of not bringing this financial liability to Giveth and acknowledging that any project verification being done now is an interim protocol until such time the decentralization of the process progresses would be wise… then map the next steps of that.

As a donor, I would not expect Giveth to refund me in the event a project I choose to fund does not meet my expectations, that’s on me. Giveth is not a traditional fundraising platform and really this issue arose when we moved to the donations going straight into a project wallet. I hope we look at ALL the options of what can be changed in the functionality and not just how do we solve this verification problem with what we have now, by comparing to what traditional fiat fundraising platforms do!

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Great comment! I encourage you to take a look at our new Giveth Connect Working Group on the forum. As a first step, we plan to do a focused session on Giveth’s vision and Theory of Change. We feel that it’s quite impossible to proceed if we don’t have clarity there.

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I feel that this post has become an epic. How do we usually wrap this up? I think the Giveth Connect Working Group will be able to answer a lot of the questions posed.

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Is Giveth project verification process bound by legal considerations, as part of the SDG Impact Fund? D

“Giveth is a part of the SDG impact fund which is a registered donor-advised fund. The Giveth organization, under this legal architecture, is represented as a non-profit 501c3 in the United States” ( What is Giveth? | Giveth Docs )

Currently, it seems Giveth has a substantial responsibility to verify projects to validate that they are ‘trusted’:

“Project Verification - encourage project accountability by donating to trusted projects” (Giveth homepage https://giveth.io )

“Project Verification” and “Trusted projects” implies a fairly rigorous process to verify trustworthiness and with that also comes a certain liability to donors.

Our vision is to make giving effortless, to reward people all over the world for creating positive change.

How are we going to do that?

Allow people to easily create projects and donate to other projects or causes.

Who are we in that case?

A platform offering this service to anyone, a service provider.

What can we do to make this experience better for everyone?

Provide the space (website), the tools (crypto donations, wallet etc.), marketing (promote projects on social media and elsewhere, curated lists, causes, roundups etc.), support (how to’s, guides, customer support).

How can donors trust the projects on our platform, thus trust Giveth itself?

Donors should always do their own research and donate based on affinity and other factors known to them.

Who would they blame if something goes wrong?

They should be made clear to contact the project owner directly, knowing that Giveth is only a service provider and is not affiliated with the project.

Giveth rewards donors with GIVbacks, how can we decide which project is eligible for GIVbacks program?

We can consider this as “Level 2 projects” which need to provide more documentation to Giveth in order to qualify for the program. We do that already with the verification process (can discuss on how and if it need to be improved).

What does this mean to donors?

They should be informed about the eligibility of receiving GIVbacks when donating to such projects without making other projects appear less relevant.

How can we increase the awareness of public good projects and make Giveth become a brand known for positive social impact?

Through curated project lists, roundups, promotion of such projects, partnerships etc. without needing to introduce filtering, ranking or verification mechanisms on the platform itself.

Where does this lead us?

It organically transforms Giveth (over time) into a brand known for public goods projects.

What happens to other projects that are “less public goods” or “in between”?

These projects will naturally fall down the project list and be less attractive, leading to less projects being submitted that are actually classified as a public good.

Can we be sure this will happen?

No, but we can work towards this and carefully plan our content, marketing and other activities to reflect that.

Do we need to rank projects then?

No, because the platform design and user activity itself will organically lead to that (over time).

How much can we rely on that being a successful approach?

Just like with any other digital product, we must ensure some metrics that will inform us on whether we’re moving towards the goal or not. In this case we would define some project metrics that we think speak for that, and make use of our Giveth stats dashboard.

What else can we do to make this succeed?

We can encourage project owners to publish success stories, regular updates and more. As a service provider we can build in smart notifications and automate the process to encourage project owners to take more care about this. Other projects will see how top projects do it and they will follow the lead if they want to be successful on Giveth.

How do we achieve the visibility of the social impact our platform provides?

We should emphasise these projects through success stories, do more marketing and comms around that. We need to make sure they meet the three criteria (suggested by Melody): Verification, Platform activity and Real World Impact, all of the information our team should gather from these projects.
As discussed on the strategy session, project owners would be asked to submit social impact statement when creating a project.

Should Giveth be responsible to validate projects social impact?

I don’t think it should, but if we’re going to use this information to promote projects that create social impact we must do some checks.
Going into Impact Validation field is a whole other universe that is outside the scope of Giveth. Remember, we’re a service provider.

End monologue, for now.