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How to DAO from Day 1

Published: Oct 7, 2021

Jack Fancy is a part of the core team at Protein Community, a place where people and ideas grow through meaningful collaboration and conversation powered by the $PRTN token.

You hear about an awesome new community, you read through what they're about, and you decide to get involved. Now what? How do you DAO?

Getting started in a DAO can feel overwhelming; different voices, reputations, discussions, and Google Docs flying around. Decisions were made when you weren't online, or you missed an important alpha at an event. You’re busy, but you’ve also got FOMO. You can’t spend your entire day in Discord.

For those wanting to successfully grow and build truly decentralized communities, thoughtful education around "How to DAO" will be critical.

The goal is to ensure that the DAO's rhythms and rituals create enough momentum to inspire permissionless action, but not overwhelm new members joining or punish old members for not being there. ⚡️

For example, an awesome DAO member could contribute between 1-2 hours of their time a week, creating meaningful action when they’re in the DAO and creating meaningful personal value when they’re outside the DAO. An equally important DAO member could be checking throughout the day to add their voice and their value, but not get involved in creating anything.

For the individual, being part of a DAO is about adding what you can, when you can.

For the DAO, respecting and facilitating this is key.

While a large percentage of members in DAOs are affectionately known as "lurkers" (members who just watch and listen), they will play a significant role in the future of communities, especially as the landscape becomes increasingly crowded. For DAOs right now, one of the most important actions they can take is to work out how they can empower this section of the community to get involved.

Let’s look at how you DAO from day 1. All of the below is valuable to community building, vibes, and ecosystems, but different levels require different amounts of time and input to get involved. In this feature, I'll detail actionable steps needed to transition from watching and listening to actively getting involved.

Level 1: Vibe Check

Level one is all about getting visible, getting up to date, and getting aligned.

👀 Look for what the community's about

Before you get started, take a look around and get to grips with the tone and vibes of the community, try and understand why people are there. If it’s not for you, don’t worry — not every DAO should be. Becoming part of a community should be a thoughtful process; it takes emotional time and energy, and if there's alignment, it will become an important part of your life. So choose wisely.

👋 Introduce yourself

Ultimately, the first way to get involved in a DAO is to just turn up and introduce yourself. Don’t overthink it. You may be writing your introduction in notes or writing your list of achievements for hours, but if you’re passionate about what you do, share it and see if anyone else does too. If you’re in the right DAO, they probably will.

If others introduce themselves and you like what they’re doing, tell them. Even though it can be daunting, try and do this in public channels instead of instantly taking it into private spaces. This will allow for others to get involved and create shared interests within the community.

🌎 Share ideas and discoveries

An easy and incredibly valuable way to contribute to a DAO is just to share what you know. The knowledge you bring to the table will be unique to you, so if someone asks a question or needs a hand, feel free to drop in to be that hand.

Similarly, if you’re exploring a topic and are looking for some help, ask a question and see if the community can collectively help you out.

📣 Turn up to things

Communities will often have Rhythms and Rituals, regular moments for the communities to keep in sync and stay up to date. They may be weekly townhalls, working group sessions, or awesome talks and events. If you can make it, show your face (virtually). Not only will you discover and learn new things, but you’ll also connect with others and the community itself.

📱 Be active on socials

If you’re enjoying the community, loved an event, or collaborated on a project, share it on socials. Reputation is important in building and growing DAOs and their future potential. Doesn’t matter how big or small you are on socials, being part of the narrative of a DAO is always valuable.

Level 2: Creating Value

Level 2 is all about creating value within the community, taking ownership, and adding to the fabric of the DAO.

✍️ Scribe

"Scribes" are an immensely important part of DAO building. They transcribe and detail events, meetings, and discussions in DAOs. They are foundational in the transfer of knowledge and documentation between DAO members, as many work asynchronously, across various time zones, and with different resources.

Making detailed notes accessible within a community is a valuable way for members to catch up, jump in, and stay motivated.

Here's an example of note-taking at one of the early weekly town halls for mCLUB, Seed Club's grant-giving DAO. (Shout out to Zach Davidson of the mCLUB crew for the excellent scribing!)

💬 Have meaningful conversations

This is easier said than done, but another way to create value in the community is to just have open and honest conversations around concepts and ideas key to the community itself. This could be discussions around the purpose, governance, membership, tools, roles, or products to build. Do this in a genuine and open way, and good conversations will happen.

🤝 Make connections

As DAOs grow and opportunities emerge, an important part of DAOs is connecting people, spaces, and ideas. If you know someone who could get involved and help out, make the connection. This could be as simple as tagging someone in a response or intentionally bringing someone onboard to collaborate — for example, a writer bringing on an artist to design a community NFT.

☝️ Volunteer ownership over something

Key to making things happen in DAOs is to simply put yourself out there and claim ownership of something that you can add value to.

While a lot of organizations require cadence and permissions to get things done, momentum in DAOs is oftentimes created through members just jumping in on an async basis to make things happen.

It’s very rare when starting a DAO for all members to have specific roles and actions, so "taking ownership" will look different for different people. It could be something as small as contributing 1-2 hours on a specific task — for example; making community emojis or as large as editing and editing external communications for the community.

Because core community members will usually emerge organically from the time and effort they create, taking ownership is one of the best ways to get more involved.

🛠 Complete bounties

Like volunteering ownership, bounties are about getting things done. They’re tasks set by DAOs for members to complete. For most community bounties, a member will complete the task before claiming the reward. A great example of this is the Forefront bounty program, where community members can complete either one-off or ongoing bounties.

Level 3: Making a Commitment

Level 3 is all about forming longer term relationships with other members in the community, understanding the future and building value together.

🍂 Commit to a season

Seasons are an important primitive for the evolution and momentum of a DAO. They represent a set amount of time for the DAO to work towards a collective goal. The focus is to align objectives and make it clear that a community doesn’t have to solve everything at once.

For a DAO member, making the commitment, whether public or not, to getting involved throughout a season and its goals can be a powerful way to see the progress of a community and make your mark on the shape it takes.

When it comes to DAO seasons, maintaining consistency through its duration can be an important signal for the community managers that you believe in the future of the DAO.

✨ See an opportunity, bring the skillset, set your value, make a proposal

As a member of the DAO, there’s huge potential for creating individual and community value symbiotically. If you see an opportunity and have the skillset to make it happen, offer your services. If there's initial interest, you could make a more official proposal to the community.

This could be something like building a tool to manage the community better or artwork for an upcoming event. Be proactive and entrepreneurial. Depending on the purpose of the DAO, different communities require different skill sets — from developers and curators to writers and event organizers.

The reward in your proposal doesn’t have to be financial; it could be a trade or skill, it could be for fun, it could be "cold, hard digital cash."

💬 Voting and getting involved in proposals (if your DAO has voting rights)

Proposals are key to decision-making within DAOs. While not all DAOs will give voting rights to all members, for DAOs that do, getting involved in proposals can be a great way to add value.

This includes taking the time to really understand the proposals, contributing your thoughts and builds where you can, and then voting on them.

⏰ Catching up

An emerging pain point for DAOs is addressing how fast members can feel overwhelmed and out of touch.

Finding engaging solutions to document and keep other members up to date will not only help you become part of the fabric of the DAO, but really understand the progress of the community. While scribes are an important part of this, for others turning the community's conversations, progress, and key moments into a weekly wrap-up — for example, Friends with Benefits' weekly newsletter — will create the most value.

Level 4: Full-Time DAO

Going "Full-Time DAO" doesn’t just have to mean quitting your job and throwing everything at the DAO, but it could mean taking the steps to get there or making enough of a commitment to be paid regularly by them, whether in tokens or stablecoins.

Note: this is for more established DAOs with capital behind them. Be aware most DAOs will start with limited resources and this will occur over time.

📅 Host Events

As part of the rhythms and rituals of a DAO, you could go "full-time DAO" by hosting regular events for the community. This could look like an important event that aligns and marks the week — for example, Forefront's Weekly Tea Time, or adding specific expertise and value like Jess Sloss' Social Token Alpha Leak in Friends with Benefits.

Hosting regular events demonstrates the trust and commitment between you and the DAO, that you’re an important voice within the community and for members.

🤝 Lead working group

Within most DAOs, the community will need core groups like governance, treasury, membership, content, and products in order to create long-term value and impact inside and outside of the DAO. Becoming a key voice to lead these working groups will shape the evolution of the community. For most DAOs, this will look like a mix of part-time contributors and supporting members.

🏰 Build infrastructure and strategy

As DAOs evolve and get larger, cooperation and coordination becomes harder. More people = more opinions. Going Full-Time DAO can look like building the strategy to help members align on the future of the community, working on the governance models of key proposals that might shift token incentives, or building DAO tooling for the members to connect better.

Building infrastructure is about working on big-picture things that allow DAOs to work better and stay working better.

🕳 Become a Core Team Member, make the jump

To create true action and long-term belief, DAOs need consistency and stewardship from those who align with the long-term vision.

Look at the key DAOs in the space today and you’ll see members of the core team who are committed, thoughtful, and will still take the time to reply to your question in Discord.

If this is right for you and you’ve found real alignment with the community, you’ll know it. Working for a DAO is probably one of the most exciting opportunities in web3, so define what it would take to truly go “full-time DAO” and make the jump.

What now?

There is no hard and fast #1 rule to get involved in a DAO, except for as Jess Sloss (Instigator at Seed Club) says, “Just turn up.”

As the concept of DAOs and new models for work reach the mainstream, new infrastructure, use cases, and thought leaders will help guide new energy into the space. While contributing to a DAO will and should feel new for most people, the more time you spend in the space, the more you’ll understand the full potential. Projects run across global time zones, ideas are collectively turned into reality and random community members will go out of their way to say hello when they join.

To start, you’ll just have to be prepared to get your hands dirty and introduce yourself 👋

Jump into the list of DAOs below to start your journey: