Elaborating on The Graph Retroactive Grants

As you may have read in the Wave 7 blog post, Graph Grants is evolving and The Graph Foundation will be approaching grants differently in the new year! During the last wave, we introduced retroactive grants funding as a new category of funding that will optimize the impact of grants in the ecosystem and ensure high-priority initiatives receive support.

The philosophy of funding retroactive public goods in web3 was introduced by Vitalk Buterin when he stated that “the core principle behind the concept of retroactive public goods funding is simple: it’s easier to agree on what was useful than what will be useful.” – July 2021.

In practice, we’ve seen this play out over the last 2 years. While we’ve distributed grants to incredibly interesting projects, we have also seen the pitfalls of funding initiatives too soon or not funding projects enough after seeing their impact in the community. As such, the grants program that’s overseen by The Graph Foundation will be transitioning to a greater focus on retroactive funding to high-priority projects that have achieved significant impact and utility in the community before having received grants.

Retroactive Grants Criteria

While retroactive funding will vary based on community input and need, there are three main sets of criteria that The Graph Foundation will use to assess qualification for retroactive grants:


Contributions will be assessed on the impact on The Graph Network and the community. As examples, this can be achieved by developing content and teaching newcomers about The Graph, creating a tool that has improved developer experience and is highly used, or contributing to protocol R&D such as improving performance with measurable results. Contributions can be evaluated and considered in various formats, such as Google Analytics, queries, total of certificates issued after course completion, documentation of improvements to the infrastructure, and/or number of users utilizing your tool. It is expected that evidence of impact should be public with community involvement.

Practical Utility

Practicality is what web3 strives for, and is the same within The Graph ecosystem! The easier and more intuitive your contribution is, the more it shines across the community. Practicality is assessed on UX, design, and interface. Evidence of this would consist of seamless onboarding, clear instructions, originality, and feedback across social channels that refer to your contribution positively (ie: Tweets, reshares, Forum sentiment, Discord sentiment, etc).


In the past, the Foundation would award a portion of grants upfront and the remainder at the point of completion. With retroactive grants, completion of the project or contribution is essential in evaluation for funding. Contributions must be shipped, marketed, and launched to the community either as a working MVP, finished product, or sufficiently socialized. If you’re still building, it is highly suggested to share your developments in The Graph Forum to get feedback from potential users. If your contribution is aligned with marketing efforts, you can also reach out to community bodies like AdvocatesDAO or The Graph Foundation. Projects where development and growth are complete will be prioritized for retroactive funding. Sharing links to websites/dapps, documentation, and/or recorded tutorial videos is necessary for evaluation.

Above all, it is necessary that any contribution funded by the Foundation is open-source. In addition to aligning with a key web3 ethos, this requirement is extremely important and valuable as funding goes into projects, there are cases where teams don’t have the bandwidth or commitment to complete the agreed upon deliverables and the ideal scenario is to have another team pick it up where it left off.

AdvocatesDAO & SubgraphDAO: Continuing to Decentralize Grants from the Foundation

In addition to AdvocatesDAO overseeing Community grants, the formation of SubgraphDAO to oversee grants for dapps to build subgraphs, the Foundation has launched retroactive funding for projects and contributions based on community impact and use. The Foundation believes that this approach is on the path to further decentralization and fair distribution.

Further decentralization also means that community impact and use would determine grant valuation funding for a contribution already being utilized within the ecosystem. In the past, the Foundation would fund the grant based on completion and deliverables. Moving forward, the Foundation will evaluate projects and ideas once they have been shipped and proven to provide substantial value to the community.

The Foundation does understand and recognize that what you develop will take time and effort, which is why it is strongly suggested and recommended that ideas are shared in the Grants section of The Graph Forum prior to developing and shipping. This will help you further evaluate community sentiment, needs, and suggestions from your proposed idea.

Applying to retroactive funding is no different than applying for a grant! The application has no deadlines and is always open. Please apply here if you have a project that is currently providing value for The Graph ecosystem.


Great initiative :clap:
Retroactive grants will be announced at any new Grant Wave?