Treating Flexible Contributor Rewards As Small Projects with Clear Deliverables

Topic: Treating Flexible Contributor Rewards As Small Projects with Clear Deliverables
Status: Discussion and Shared Learnings
Authors: @Matthew_Graham, @ElliottWatts and @bradwmorris
Date: 05/05/2022


Over the last few months, Community Nest and Finance Nest have been working together to incorporate the learning from across the DAO to level up operational efficiency within nests.

After a successful restructure of Growth Nest during Index Council v1, Finance Nest and Community Nest came together to share challenges, lessons learned and identify opportunities to improve our operations. This forum post builds on a prior post Flexible Contributor Rewards 2.0 post and shares what we have achieved together within the broader community.


Through collaboration and teamwork, identify ways to improve in the following areas:

  • Increase project ownership and completion
  • Encourage initiative, strategic thinking and accountability
  • Align work with overarching goals/objectives/KPIs
  • Improve overall efficiency of the nest

Shared Learnings

We knew from Finance Nest that having tighter controls around deliverables, assigning an owner and pre-defining the remuneration leads to a more efficient/structured allocation of resources. We saw further evidence of this with the restructure of Language operations towards a more measurable impact determination of contributor rewards during Index Council v1 contributing to the overall monthly Growth Nest budget reduction in Season 1 relative to Q4 2021.

Through collaboration, both Nests elected to pivot to a more project completion contingent compensation system. Ideation of work scopes are community sourced, reviewed by the nest and each initiative that is progressed is assigned a single owner, who is responsible for delivering that scope of work. Contributor rewards are then linked to progress and delivery of the project. This is very similar to how grants are managed and this construct is ideal for creating accountability, ownership and clearly links remuneration to delivery.

We also adopted a “Lean Manufacturing” philosophy. Lean Manufacturing is a management philosophy aimed at generating the maximum amount of value for the customer with the least amount of waste. Individuals responsible for project updates are only to provide when help is needed or there is a meaningful update. Time is scarce and is to be focused on removing blockers, enabling projects to progress smoothly in a timely, cost efficient manner.

The general thinking behind this approach is to link remuneration to output and position the contributor to drive towards delivering the scope of work. The Nest, or Nest lead, ensures the quality of the work is up to standard, front running removing blockers and is responsible for managing overall workload per contributor and how that aligns with the overall vision for the coop, set by the Index Council.


At the beginning of the month, Community Nest and Finance Nest contributors clearly define projects and direction for the month. Each project scope includes:

  1. Project/initiative overview/outcome
  2. Related KPIs and objectives (from Season Proposal)
  3. Single project owner/point of accountability
  4. Tasks required to complete project
  5. Additional help, resources or requirements
  6. Expected deliverable date

The below image showcases how many small projects can be created, assigned and progress tracked.

Key Initiatives

Less meetings, more high impact work: contributors are only expected to attend calls if there are major blockers/concerns/challenges. All other coordination should happen at the discretion of the project owner

Better planning and project scoping: more upfront strategic planning allows the nest/pods/project owners to identify essential tasks, remove unnecessary noise and focus on the highest impact work. It also enables the nest to better coordinate x-nest when projects require multi-nest/pod collaboration.

Impact, energy and delivery: Contributor rewards reflect the value the Nest places on the project and takes into consideration the complexity, amount of effort required and only rewards delivery of the project. This encourages the contributor to only focus effort where value is created/rewarded.

Known remuneration upfront: Agree the value of the project before commencing work. This ensures full transparency, sets expectations and ensures no misalignment comes time to reward contributors for their contribution to the community.

Results we’ve seen so far:

  • Despite having surplus budget and crowdsourcing ideas, project based rewards are leading to meaningful underspend across the nest
    • Finance Nest - Budget: $54,874 Actual: $32,850 - Underspend: $22,024
    • Community Nest - Budget: $110,400 Actual: $81,788 - Underspend: $28,611
  • Social accountability whereby contributors demonstrate pride in the ability to deliver quality work in a timely manner
  • Empowered contributors who excel in planning and delivering high impact work
  • Reduced over-commitment to non-essential work
  • Removal of Coordinape - streamlining contributor rewards to utilize a single processes


This style of project delivery based contributor rewards under appreciates the time required to keep up with discord chatter and governance forum participation. There is potential to overlook the value add of cross nest coordination and the time investment required to be up to date with the DAO. This challenge recognises the difficulty of attaining and maintaining alignment across the DAO. The initial feedback is scope project work may need to include a greater allowance for contributors to keep up to date with what is happening in the DAO. We are working to find the right balance of recognising project work and cross-DAO coordination / context building. We will continue to refine and seek to make improvements wherever possible.


I want to emphasise that broadly, core flexible contributors to C.Nest did not feel “empowered” by this; many have expressed their dissatisfaction over multiple meetings. Project ownership and completion has also not increased; only 2 projects thus far have actually been scoped, delivered, and paid. As one of C.Nest’s core flexible contributors, I strongly recommend against implementing this approach Coop-wide.

Per-project pay was great to decrease spending on contributors who were providing little value / completing 0 projects. It was a vote of no confidence to contributors adding value to the nest already, as it:
(1) incentivises completing projects to the bare minimum required for the stipend,
(2) discourages collaboration as contributors are only paid for projects they own, and
(3) does not offer any incentive for contributors to gain context outside of their specific project.

It feels like core flexible contributors to C.Nest are paying the price for previous overspending/failure to offboard non-essential contributors that should have been dealt with previously by priority hires. From what has been said in meetings and asynch, I am doubtful any flexible contributors to Community Nest agree that this per-project pay has been fair.


Hey Madison @coolhorsegirl ,

We’re trying our best here to find the right balance, it’s not an easy task and we definitely haven’t perfected the process yet. Noted on your frustrations, appreciate you and your candid communication.

Based on your feedback, and the feedback from other CNest contributors, we’re trying to focus on individual solutions for those contributors we feel have gone above and beyond and potentially been overlooked with the project contingent bounty process.

For anyone in CNest who feels they were unfairly compensated for the work they did - please open up that conversation either with me directly - happy to do a call. Or in public is fine too. Aside from speaking with everyone (I’ve already reached out to everyone in the Nest), how would you suggest we approach this? I value your feedback, and we’ll obviously continue this conversation. I’m also trying my best to balance this with ensuring we’re delivering high impact work - which has largely been focused on engaging our community of non-contributors, and should be the focus of our conversations.

I also want to reiterate that the project contingent system was not a top-down decision. It was proposed by Community Nest contributors, not me. We will now seek feedback from contributors, like yourself, to determine how we find the better balance.

Over the past two months, we scoped and delivered everything we had planned with the exception of community onboarding and Notion rework (both almost finished now). We completed the recruitment process application, templates and database, community engagement events refinement, community <> product GTM process, impact alignment and leave guidelines (drafts), owl pulse feedback, JPG and icETH community engagement for launch, bounty board and process, revised the onboarding <> community welcome all and slides in addition to the separate owl level stuff with hivewise, ongoing community management, assisting product launches/community and launching several community events/spaces.

In my opinion, this project process is a far better foundation to start from than one where contributors are submitting the reward sheet with work that wasn’t clearly planned and having one person determine the value of that work. Would you agree? Having said all this, I agree generally with everything you’ve mentioned.

Look forward to working through these challenges and aligning Community with the new product strategy and direction. Community nest has a lot of exciting work to deliver over the next two months.