Hangout Recap: Impact DAOs: Building Communities for good

Julia PepperHangout RecapJun 8, 2022

🎧 Access the Hangout podcast recording here.

Ale Borda is a community architect, advocate for soulful impact entrepreneurship, and contributor to Dream DAO, Two Plus, and Gitcoin DAO. Previously, she worked at Fifty Years, an early stage venture capital firm in San Francisco aiming to use technology to solve the world’s biggest problems. She recently co-authored the Impact DAO book with Gitcoin co-founder Kevin Owocki, a cartography project that mapped decentralized organizations working to build digital public goods. In this hangout, she shared her insights on impact entrepreneurship and regenerative use cases of web3 for social and environmental justice.

Web3 as a medium, not a product

After beginning her web3 journey and exploring the work of projects like Worldcoin and Celo, Ale said she realized that web3’s value lies not in a single product or service it can provide, but in its ability to create a coordination mechanism to align incentives on a wide scale: a “railroad for society to navigate so we can actually change incentives towards positive actions,” in her words. Web3 fundamentally changes what gets valued and rewarded by communities of people and has the ability to change human behavior on an unprecedented scale. A lot of this peer to peer work stems from the unique characteristics of cryptocurrency as a medium, but doesn’t have anything to do with the technical details themselves. That’s not to say that products and services themselves aren’t valuable. Rather, as standalone digital artifacts, they’re incomplete– only with the human mechanism layer on top is the ecosystem able to operate as a whole, which is why philosophers, economists, and other social scientists are necessary to help the space reach its full potential.

Revisiting Impact Metrics

A lot of capital and talent flows into web3 on a near-daily basis, creating a lot of urgency to build, but it’s not always clear that those resources are being used to develop the most impactful projects. Ensuring that most of that value is going to projects that are uplifting society is essential for the future of the space.

The practice of measuring impact, though, is something that is revisited often by Ale and other DAO cartographers doing this work. A lot of the measurements for impact that are prevalent in the nonprofit space now have misaligned incentives– many were vanity metrics used to convince donors and other people that they were achieving something rather than adding inherent value, and therefore needed to be revisited. One offshoot of this is unique experiments with retroactive funding, such as visiting indigenous lands to redistribute wealth back to those who have been careful stewards of the land for generations and do much of the work of protecting the planet’s biodiversity. Making the carbon credits market more transparent through blockchain is another. In the future, questions surrounding measuring impact could lead to the public ledger being used as a transparency mechanism to house on-chain impact metrics which keep projects accountable to their promises to build public goods. Ale, though acknowledging the nascent nature of the space, envisions these revised measurements potentially leading to a memetic “impact marketplace” of powerful ideas and promising projects with widespread community buy-in that allow resources to flow to those which are actively uplifting communities. Current metrics fail to capture the value that comes from nourishment from locally sourced ingredients, breathwork, and other important community rituals that elevate survival to flourishing, and coming up with ways to articulate this richness and work to improve it in a systematic way is key.

Optimizing for collaboration and interoperability

All in all, the Impact DAO ecosystem thrives on building positive sum games that optimize for collaboration and interoperability: that means not being afraid to share frameworks and processes for other communities to fork, and to integrate knowledge from other communities in your own processes in turn. This process of knowledge exchange moves beyond the scarcity mindset of competing for limited funding, recognizing that every sub-community and DAO is playing a role in tending to all of the multifaceted layers of human experience, and are, in a sense, composed of each other in that shared mission.

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