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:
Giveth is currently distinguishing projects into two categories: unverified and verified. Maybe, however, three categories or levels might be needed:
- 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).
- 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.
- 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:
- Level A (“Standard”?): Project get submitted, no checks. That’s it. Donors can give if they want.
- 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.
- 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.
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”.