The dark side of DAOs: Misuse of grants and draining of treasuries

The dark side of DAOs: Misuse of grants and draining of treasuries

Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) have emerged as a revolutionary alternative to traditional organizations, driven by blockchain technology and characterized by transparent, decentralized decision-making processes. However, as DAOs continue to gain traction, they also face various challenges. One such issue is the misuse of grants and the depletion of DAO treasuries by contributors who focus on securing funds rather than providing meaningful value to the organization.

DAO Grant System: An Overview

The DAO grant system plays a crucial role in the growth and development of these organizations. Grants are typically allocated to contributors who propose projects, initiatives, or improvements that align with the DAO's mission and objectives. The purpose of these grants is to incentivize and reward active participation, innovation, and collaboration among community members.

Contributors in DAOs hold various roles, such as developers, designers, researchers, marketers, or strategists, and their input can significantly impact the organization's success. By receiving grants, contributors are expected to deliver results that further the DAO's goals and provide value to the community.

The Problem: Misuse of Grants and Depleted Treasuries

Presenting cases and reports of contributors focusing on securing grants rather than providing value

While the anonymity and decentralized nature of DAOs make it difficult to pinpoint specific cases, numerous reports and evidences suggest that certain contributors prioritize securing grants over providing real value to the organization.

These individuals may dedicate significant time and effort to crafting persuasive proposals, but once they receive the funds, they fail to deliver on their promises, leading to wasted resources and unfulfilled expectations.

The impact of diminishing motivation on the results and overall growth of DAOs

When contributors lose motivation after receiving grants, the DAO suffers in several ways. First, the organization's funds are spent without generating the anticipated return on investment, putting a strain on the treasury. This depletion of resources can limit the DAO's ability to fund future projects, slowing down its growth and potentially causing stagnation.

Moreover, when the community becomes aware of these instances, it can undermine trust in the grant allocation process and discourage genuine contributors from participating. The loss of trust can create a negative feedback loop, making it increasingly difficult for the DAO to attract and retain valuable talent, which further hampers its growth and development.

The involvement of administrators and influencers with delegated votes

Another factor exacerbating the problem of misused grants and depleted treasuries is the involvement of administrators or influencers who have been delegated a significant number of votes by token holders.

In some cases, these individuals may form alliances with grant-seeking contributors, approving proposals that do not necessarily align with the best interests of the DAO.

The manipulation of the grant allocation process through such alliances can lead to an even more significant depletion of the treasury, as funds are directed towards projects that may not provide substantial value. Additionally, this behavior can further erode trust within the community, as members begin to question the integrity of the decision-making process and the transparency of the organization.

The Proposal-Based System Turning DAOs into Toxic Money-Grabbing Rat Races

The proposal-based system, wherein contributors submit their ideas to secure funds and subsequently deliver results, has become a standard model in many DAOs.

However, this approach can also create an environment that encourages unhealthy competition and turns DAOs into toxic money-grabbing rat races, negatively affecting the overall spirit and vision of decentralized organizations.

The Unintended Consequences of the Proposal-Based System

While the proposal-based system is designed to encourage innovation and collaboration, it can inadvertently lead to a number of issues, including:

  1. Emphasis on proposal quality over project execution: Contributors may focus more on presenting their ideas persuasively to secure grants, rather than ensuring they have the ability or resources to deliver meaningful results. This can result in a misallocation of funds, as projects that look promising on paper may not translate into practical outcomes.
  2. Unhealthy competition: The proposal-based system can foster a competitive environment in which contributors vie for limited funds, potentially leading to a toxic atmosphere that prioritizes individual gain over collaborative progress. This can undermine the original goals of DAOs, which are meant to be driven by a shared vision and collaborative efforts.
  3. Lack of accountability: Once grants are allocated, contributors may not feel accountable for the outcomes of their projects, as they have already secured the funds. This lack of accountability can lead to poor execution, delays, and ultimately, wasted resources.


Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) have the potential to revolutionize the way organizations operate, promoting transparency, decentralization, and community-driven decision-making. However, as these organizations continue to evolve, they must also address the challenges that arise, such as the misuse of grants, depletion of treasuries, and the emergence of toxic money-grabbing behaviors.

By acknowledging these issues and implementing measures to promote accountability, transparency, and collaboration, DAOs can work towards fostering a healthier ecosystem that benefits all stakeholders. Through milestone-based funding, collaborative decision-making, and performance reviews, DAOs can shift their focus from short-term gains to long-term, sustainable growth, maintaining the original spirit and vision of decentralized organizations. As the blockchain and DAO space continues to mature, addressing these challenges will be crucial for ensuring the long-term success and impact of these innovative organizational structures.

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