With nearly 20,000 different decentralized autonomous organizations, it appears DAOs are currently the hottest kids on the block. In this guide, we’ll walk you through all you need to know about this new category of organizations and how to join one.
But first, let’s look at why you may want to join a DAO.
Reasons to Join a DAO
There are many potential benefits to joining a DAO:
- Participate in a community organized around your interests and values.
- Gain influence over decisions that affect a project or ecosystem you care about.
- Earn governance tokens that may appreciate in value if the DAO is successful.
- Access funding opportunities if you can contribute value to the DAO.
- Develop and practice decentralized governance skills.
- Meet and connect with others passionate about the DAO’s domain.
- Learn how to collaborate effectively in decentralized organizations.
Choose a DAO in a domain that excites you and where you can actively add value through your participation.
Evaluating DAOs to Join
When choosing a DAO, assess criteria like:
- Purpose – Does the DAO’s mission resonate with your values and interests?
- Community – Is the member community thoughtful, welcoming, and active?
- Governance – Are decision-making processes fair and effective?
- Funding – Does the DAO have sufficient resources and treasury to be sustainable?
- Technology – Does the DAO use resilient technical infrastructure?
- Transparency – Are the DAO’s records, data, and operations accessible?
- Security – Does the DAO take steps to ensure secure governance processes?
Choosing an established DAO with a strong track record on these fronts is recommended for most newcomers.
Acquiring Governance Tokens
To participate in a DAO’s governance, you need to acquire its governance token. Popular ways:
- Purchase on exchanges – Governance tokens are traded on exchanges like Uniswap or Binance.
- Airdrops – Some projects airdrop tokens to active ecosystem participants.
- Earn through contributions – Many DAOs reward contributions with governance token grants.
- Buy from members – You can purchase tokens directly from existing members.
- Provide liquidity – Supplying liquidity for the governance token to AMMs earns you a portion of the rewards.
Even getting a small number of tokens will allow you to get started participating and voting in the DAO.
Setting Up DAO Infrastructure
To interact with a DAO you need some technical infrastructure setup:
- Crypto wallet – A wallet like MetaMask that connects to the blockchain the DAO uses.
- Browser extension – Installing browser extensions like the Snapshot voting app.
- Ethereum – Having ETH or the native chain currency for gas transaction fees.
- Hardware wallet – Optional for increased security when signing transactions and voting.
Don’t worry, each DAO has documentation to guide new members through the necessary setup. It may feel daunting at first but becomes second nature.
Key Components of DAOs
DAOs have a number of components that enable decentralized governance and operations:
- Governance tokens – Tokens that give holders voting rights proportional to their stake.
- DAOs Treasury – Assets like crypto held collectively that the DAO can direct usage of.
- Voting mechanisms – Software and processes to handle member voting like Snapshot.
- Proposals – Ways for members to submit proposals to alter policies or allocate resources.
- Funding mechanisms – Methods to fund approved proposals like awards, grants, or pay for work completed.
- Communication channels – Discussion spaces like Discord and forums for members to connect and deliberate.
Understanding these components allows you to participate in the DAO’s governance effectively.
Voting in a DAO
Voting on proposals is one of the most important member responsibilities in decentralized governance. Follow this process:
- Review open proposals created by other members.
- Carefully consider each proposal’s implications and merit.
- Discuss proposals with other members in community channels to gain feedback.
- When ready to vote, connect your wallet and signal your choice on the voting platform.
- Your vote will be weighted by the number of governance tokens in your connected wallet.
- Make sure to vote before the end of the voting period so your say is registered.
Voting is how you direct the DAO’s resources and future based on your convictions.
Creating Proposals in a DAO
Beyond voting, you can also create new proposals for your DAO to consider:
- Identify an opportunity the DAO could pursue or a problem it could solve.
- Flesh out key details like costs, implementation, and governance implications.
- Draft the proposal following the DAO’s defined template and process.
- Submit the proposal through the established channel (ex. Snapshot, forum post, etc).
- Respond to member feedback and adjust the proposal as needed.
- If approved through member vote, assist with implementing the proposal.
Proposing new ideas you feel strongly benefit the DAO allows you to drive initiatives and change.
Participating in DAO Discussion
In addition to voting, it’s important to engage in your DAO’s discussion channels:
- Ask clarifying questions on proposals and issues to improve your understanding.
- Share feedback and analysis to challenge assumptions and surface new perspectives.
- Help onboard new members by answering their questions patiently and clearly.
- Build connections with fellow DAO contributors to coordinate and ideate.
- Highlight opportunities and challenges facing the DAO for others to consider.
- Moderate discussions if you hold such responsibilities in the community.
Quality discourse and debate lead to informed governance decisions.
Funding Opportunities in DAOs
One benefit of DAO participation is accessing funding for your contributions if the community approves it. Common examples:
- Bounties – Get paid for completing specific tasks like developing features or creating educational materials.
- Grants – Request funding for broader scopes of work like research or events.
- Proposals – Get paid retroactively or upfront for contribution proposals you submit.
- Awards – DAOs may provide recognition awards in currency or NFTs.
- Payroll – Some DAOs hire members in ongoing roles.
Initiative and creativity in providing value to your DAO may lead to reward and funding opportunities.
Responsibilities of DAO Members
Effective DAO members understand their responsibilities:
- Voting consistently – Members must vote diligently on all proposals rather than sit inactive.
- Making informed decisions – Take time to research issues and proposals before voting. Don’t vote blindly.
- Embodying values – Act in line with the DAO’s mission and values, not just your self-interest.
- Engaging constructively – Provide thoughtful input in community discussions toward shared truth seeking.
- Elevating the DAO – Promote the DAO ethically and share ownership of its success or failure.
Fulfilling your responsibilities produces better governance outcomes and community cohesion.
Avoiding DAO Governance Pitfalls
To exercise good governance, avoid some common pitfalls like:
- Apathy – Failing to vote and engage actively undermines the wisdom of the crowd.
- Short-term thinking – Consider how decisions affect the DAO’s long-term success over years and decades.
- Self-interest – Focus on how to best serve the DAO’s mission rather than your personal gain.
- Disingenuous voting – Don’t signal support for proposals just to curry political favor if you have honest concerns or objections.
- Laziness – Take time to research proposals thoroughly rather than make half-informed votes.
- Malevolence – Don’t try to attack, hijack, or seize control of the community. Stay constructive.
With care and wisdom, DAO members can steer their communities to shared prosperity.
Delegating Your Votes
If you don’t have time to research every proposal and vote yourself, you can delegate your votes.
Vote delegation allows you to assign your vote weight to another member you trust will represent your values well in voting. They vote on your behalf.
To delegate votes:
- Decide on a knowledgeable and aligned community member to delegate to. Avoid over-centralizing votes in a few individuals.
- In the DAO voting app, select “Delegate my votes” and enter their address.
- They must approve and accept the delegated votes.
- Your voting power gets transferred to them until you stop delegation.
Delegating to experts allows informed voting at scale but retains decentralized control.
Participating in DAOs Long-Term
The most rewarding experiences come from engaging deeply with a DAO community over many years. Consider:
- Taking on leadership roles if you demonstrate consistent wisdom and service.
- Building relationships and camaraderie with fellow contributors.
- Mentoring and onboarding new members over time as your experience grows.
- Contributing across many different initiatives as the DAO evolves.
- Maintaining a growth mindset as you learn new governance skills.
- Cultivating purpose-driven partnerships between your DAO and others.
Sustained participation allows you to help steward projects much bigger than yourself in service of shared goals.
Joining a DAO allows you to collaborate and participate in decentralized governance to steer community resources toward outcomes you believe in. But meaningful involvement requires commitment beyond just voting – you must engage constructively with fellow members, provide thoughtful guidance on key issues, and live the values embedded in the DAO. Through sustained participation, you can gain influence over causes aligned with your passion and expertise while mutually growing the DAO’s shared mission.