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  • noahchonlee

How to Recycle Funds to Your Areas of Focus

Updated: May 22, 2023

The platform viaPrize allows people to crowdfund project proposals/specific solutions. Whoever makes a successful solution/completes the project wins the prize. If no one successfully completes the project by the deadline, then the funders are refunded.


This helps crowdsource ideas for solutions and then only reward builders once they have made a solution that works/fulfills the prize criteria.


But how does a community choose which problems to prioritize?


The Wishing Oasis


One model to address this is through a wishing oasis. This post is an adaptation of the proposed wishing pool model based on conversations with Link Guan of Plancker DAO, a mostly Chinese web3 community developing ways to fund public goods and develop safe spaces through nomad hubs around the world.


Wishing oasis - The portion of a fund allocated to areas of focus and projects

Wish - An area of focus/problem the community intends to focus on/address

Prize - A project proposal combined with a reward for whoever successfully completes the project

Wishing well - The portion of the wishing oasis' funds allocated to a wish

Prize pool - The portion of a wishing well allocated to a prize

Blessing - The voting power of a community member to fund a wish or a project


Imagine cutting a pizza into slices. Take one big slice (the wishing well) and set it to the side. Let's say there are five plates on the table so you cut that big slice into five small slices and put one on each plate (prize pools). Maybe two people show up and eat two of the small slices, and three small slices remain uneaten. So you take back the three small slices and wait to see if there are any other plates that show up for you to place those small slices onto next.


In this metaphor...

The pizza is the wishing oasis.

The big slice is the wishing well.

The plates with the small slices on them are the prizes.

The people who eat the slices are the prize winners.


Alternatively, you might think of an underground oasis of water existing below a village. The villagers digs multiple wells that tap into that oasis. They sometimes draw buckets of water from a well and then leave it out for people to drink. Anything that is not drunk is poured back into the well. Every once in a while, they decide to move the locations of the wells.


A wishing oasis is formed when someone mints/publishes a manifesto which defines the values of the fund


People may join a wishing oasis as members by buying a membership. Upon receiving membership, they will receive voting power either directly proportional or quadratically proportional to how large of a membership fee they chose to pay. If outside parties donate, that does not affect the percentages of members voting power but it does increase the volume their voting power affects. If more members join, it does reduce the percentage of voting power every other member has but increases the total volume of funds. A member may also choose to add more donations and increase their percentage of the voting power later.


At regular intervals such as during quarterly meetings, the community chooses which wishes will receive which percentage of the fund. That wish now has a portion of the oasis. They might redefine their wishes or simply shuffle the money so that the same wishes now hold the same percentages of the total fund as in the last round.


A wish might be synonymous with one of the UN's SDG's such as "we wish there was no more poverty," or it might be something more local like "I wish there were more spaces in our neighborhood where I could exercise or do yoga outdoors."


To address a wish, community members/anyone may present multiple potential solutions/project proposals.


Next, portions of a wishing well are then allocated to prizes/bounties for anyone who successfully makes those solutions a reality. In other words, prizes receive smaller slices of the wish slice.


Prizes have deadlines and are refunded if no one successfully completes the project in time.


You can imagine that multiple prizes housed within a wish may be funded. Some are won. Meanwhile, some are refunded and those funds are returned to the wishing well.


Example


Let's say you have a wishing oasis for your community called "Ecoville" with a fund of $10,000.


The community votes for two areas of focus: Health and Software.

The wishes might be stated as, "I wish we were healthier" or "I wish we had better software."


$6,000 or 60% of the fund is allocated to health and $4,000 or 40% of the fund is allocated to software.


Within the health wish, let's say two prizes are defined: make a community gym and start a community garden (the actual prize would be more detailed in order to qualify as SMART.)

Both of these prizes are given a deadline one month away.


Community members use their wishing power/voting power and choose to give $3,000 to the gym project and also $3,000 to the garden project.


By the time that one month deadline arrives, someone has made a gym. The person or team who made the gym wins the $3,000 prize.

However, no one made the garden and thus the $3,000 is returned to the health wishing well.

Perhaps someone then proposes a project for making a community library, and people then allocate those $3,000 to that project.


To summarize: We define a wish and add funding to that wish. Multiple projects within that wish are funded. Whatever projects are successfully completed are paid for and whichever were not completed are refunded back to the well for that wish.


In this way, we establish a model for a community to prioritize problems to address and de-risk funding solutions thereby incentivizing people to ideate, fund, and build them.


Differentiating Projects and Areas of Focus

A wish is an area of focus and not a project. A project has a specific, achievable end state and should generally ascribe to the five attributes of SMART goals. Meanwhile, an area of focus is an ongoing standard to be maintained, and there is a subjective rather than binary definition of whether or not it is fulfilled.


Both for individuals and organizations, forgetting the difference between projects and areas of focus can be depressing. Imagine waking up every day and looking at your supposed project list which is continually growing longer and longer. However, perhaps this is because some items on the "project" list consist of "keep the house clean," or "make sure my wife is happy," etc. Those items are not projects with an achievable one-time end state, instead they are standards to be maintained. Projects may be housed within areas of focus. (Shoutout to Tiago Forte for his writing on the topic)


With this clear distinction, the list of completed projects may expand and I can certainly say that it is FAR more motivating waking up to see that completed projects list growing longer while your areas of focus list remains the same during that allotted time interval. For me, I redefine my areas of focus during my quarterly review then map out a timeline of projects within those areas of focus during my monthly reviews.


It becomes essential to know how to clearly differentiate projects and areas of focus, clarify the bounds of areas of focus, and define the end state for projects.


Prizes, similar to AI, are genies. They can give you what you want if you know how to ask for it. Beware of ambiguity which proliferate disputes and increase governance overhead.


Strategies for deliberation, decisions, and dispute resolution will be addressed in future posts.


The wishing oasis may be one segment of a larger community mutual fund as described in this post from my previous blog.

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