Hello! After talking with Haseeb Qureshi and exploring the ideas for making doing good easier with decentralized solutions, we caught up with Lauren Luz. Lauren leads communications at Giveth - a decentralized platform which allows for direct donations towards impactful causes. We discussed the project and the ideas behind it, how decentralization can help with giving and whether doing good can also be fun.
You currently work with Giveth. But how did you start working in the web3 space in the first place?
In a past life, I was a mechanical engineer building ice making equipment for a small company in the suburbs. I was unsatisfied with my lifestyle, and with the general framework of corporate life, and eventually left my job to travel the world. I was in Southeast Asia, Europe, Central & South America. I learned a lot about food & nutrition, nature, permaculture, yoga & spirituality. I was on a mission to build and live a regenerative life.
I eventually ended up at an intentional community in Costa Rica where I met a wonderful woman, Danibelle, who was an active Giveth “Unicorn”. We became friends and this was the tip of the iceberg. Fast forward some months to where I moved in with her and started exploring the world of web3. I started jumping into calls with Giveth and the Commons Stack, and eventually started contributing.
My first project was the Commons Simulator - a solarpunk gamified webcomic that aims to educate players on the impact of regenerative commons economies “to save the world”. I fell in love with the #blockchain4good community and this interesting combination of hippie vibes & technical understanding. I saw huge potential in the blockchain space and its ability to completely change out-dated systems that beget fear, scarcity and disempowerment. I dove headfirst down the rabbit hole and ended up where I am now: leading Giveth communications & GIVeconomy project management from my lovely fruit-abundant home in the tropics.
So coming back to the present: how did the idea for Giveth come about?
Giveth was built on the idea that value creation for society can and should be rewarded, and that we can use web3 tools to reward & empower both the people providing the funds & the people on the ground doing the good work. Rising out of the ashes of TheDAO, the founding team was a group of altruistic whitehat hackers who set out to build systems to turn non-profits into DAOs of their own.
Giveth started in 2016 with some of the best smart contract developers in the space. They took the ideas from TheDAO and wrote & open-sourced innovative smart contracts, like MiniMeand Vault, that are still in use today. They built on this technical foundation & soft launched the first Giveth DApp (now called Giveth TRACE) as the community layer - a platform to connect donors and projects doing the good work, and create communities around these connections. Out of these ideas and experiences came the streamlined, easy-to-use DApp Giveth.io, and later, the GIVeconomy.
The long-term vision of Giveth is to bring the tools of web3 to ‘for-good projects’, and to use tokenomics and DAO coordination on the ground. We want to build an alternative to our current systems - where we rely on altruism to create & protect public goods like clean water & air - and create new systems that use blockchain technology to reward value-creation and build collective abundance.
You say you want to model Giveth as one of the first not-for-profit blockchain based entities. What does this mean in practice?)
Not-for-profit organizations are generally focused on creating public goods or, more specifically, working to add or maintain value in society. Unfortunately, this type of work is scarcely rewarded. We expect and depend on good people to give & do good, without expecting anything in return. It’s not profitable to clean rivers or take care of the homeless.
With blockchain, so much becomes possible. Web3 is creating so much abundance and our mission is to create connections between this metaspace & the meatspace, effectively adding value to society by creating systems to reward those who add value to society.
From 2016 we’ve been doing this work funded solely by donations and now, with the launch of the GIVeconomy, we are able to actually create more abundance & fund great proposals and ideas that are aligned with this mission.
Transparency seems very important when it comes to donating. How do you maintain it?
We created Giveth TRACE with this intention in mind. On TRACE, donors can give to projects (called “Campaigns”) and see how that project is using the funds via “Traces”. Donors also have the option of donating to “Communities”, and the Community can delegate funds to Campaigns of their choosing. If the donor disagrees with the Community’s delegation, they can reject it and the funds return to the Community. With this system, projects & donors can communicate. Donors can see how the funds are being used and Communities are held accountable to their donors.
It’s a cool system, but interestingly enough, it received pretty lackluster support! It doesn’t seem that donors are really after this level of transparency and control, but are rather looking for IMPACT. They want donating to be fun! And they want to know, from a high level, that their funds are being used for good.
With Giveth.io and the GIVeconomy we took a new approach. Blockchain technology makes it easy for people to see where money is flowing, so we built a new app focused on easy, streamlined P2P donations - with a few extras. We included a system for “verifying” project legitimacy so that donors can trust that their funds are being put to good use. And, we created the GIVbacks program where donors to verified projects are rewarded with GIV. Donors can use their rewards to participate in governance via the GIVgarden, can earn a yield in the GIVfarm, or simply enjoy a continuous flow of GIV with the GIVstream.
Transparency is maintained on the Giveth.io by virtue of it being built on the Ethereum blockchain, and projects are still able to keep their donors in the loop by providing updates, but we transformed the donation system into something that is easy, fun, rewarding! This is really what helps for-good projects raise funds.
You recently talked about integrating with The Giving Block, a project which aims to make cryptocurrency fundraising easy for nonprofits. The idea of building an ecosystem thanks to the decentralized nature of these projects seems very exciting.
The GIVeconomy is all about collaborating, coordinating, and building each other up. Network effect is everything when you are building economies. In traditional business models, there is pressure to out-compete other projects & rise to the top. In blockchain4good, we’re flipping the script! There are no competitors, only allies.
The Giving Block is doing fantastic work curating top-tier non-profit organizations and supporting them on their journey to raise funds in crypto. Our recent integration with the Giving Block has brought over 700 verified projects onto Giveth.io using their API. With our GIVbacks program, donors to these projects can receive GIV “back” as a reward for donating, and the Giving Block integration has made it so that donors looking to get GIVbacks have many quality options to choose from.
The crypto space can sometimes seem quite profit-driven. How do we encourage more people in the space to give?
I think that instead of berating the desire to generate a profit, there is great potential in harnessing this energy and using it for good. After all, it’s very natural as humans to want to improve our lives. What we need to do is get rid of the idea that giving needs to be self-sacrificial, and make the space of giving into something fun. A money game. We can use web3 to create systems or, effectively, games that offer rewards to those who provide value for society.
The GIVbacks program is a great example. It creates, for the first time ever, an upside to donating. Donors to verified projects are rewarded with GIV - they get some part now and some part as a GIV/week flowrate called a “GIVstream”. If more value is added to Giveth and the GIV token price increases, their GIVstream flowrate could end up giving them even more rewards or “profit” than they donated in the first place.
The Token Engineering Commons is another example. They use an augmented bonding curve so that every time someone buys or sells the TEC token, a fraction of the sale goes into their Common Pool to fund proposals The more market action, the more funding is generated to advance the field of Token Engineering.
Suddenly the game has changed. We don’t have to hunt & fight each other to win, but rather we can collaborate, support each other, give to causes that provide value to our world, and experience abundance in the process.
Other than the project you’re working on, what excites you most about the future of web3?
I believe the real power of web3 lies in its ability to create abundance for those who provide value for society. It’s time to retire old systems that rely on sacrifice to provide for our collective human needs. Clean air, clean water, infrastructure like roads & bridges, free childcare, education, taking care of the less fortunate… These are all public goods that provide value to our lives yet when governments fail to provide them, we depend on non-profits to altruistically provide for the greater good.
Web3 can change that. We can use bonding curves, community collaboration, DAO tooling and novel coordination mechanisms to create an evolution. We can build regenerative systems where giving of all types is rewarded. Donors can become impact investors. Volunteers can become shareholders. We can align value-creation for society with abundance economics and really change the world.