Order out of Chaos: A guide to OpenGov treasury proposals

With the recent release of OpenGov, chaos has ensued. It is our opinion that one of the major issues is a lack of conformity or standardization among the proposals. A lot of the issues and negative views of proposals could have been prevented with an appropriately designed treasury proposal. I wanted to develop a guide to help people on the road to submitting their own governance proposals with a few tips and information coming from our own experience with this process as both a voter and a proposer. Our hope is that people and teams can go into the process knowing what to expect and how to handle situations that might occur.

Treasury Process Steps:

  1. Draft Proposal - In this step you will create your initial treasury proposal with the requisite sections and necessary information.
  2. Discussion - Post your treasury proposal on polkassembly under the discussion area. Post the link in the Kusama Direction channel on element asking for feedback on your proposal. It is advised you leave the proposal open for discussion for a period of not less than 7 days.
  3. Rewrite - Review the comments and conversations in the discussion of your proposal. Determine which changes would be beneficial or required for your proposal. Rewrite the proposal with those in mind.
  4. Rediscuss - After integrating changes in step 3, open the new version of the treasury proposal for an additional discussion period of not less than 7 days. If there are no major points of contention, you can proceed to the vote.
  5. Vote - When you launch your vote, be sure to update the polkassembly and subsquare pages

Proposal Requirements and Design:

All treasury proposals should be clear and concise in a reader friendly format preferable as a google document link provided in the polkassembly post. Do not write your proposal directly in the polkassembly or subsquare as it becomes unreadable.

Treasury proposals can be broken up into simple elements that are easy to manage allowing you to craft sections that you can use on multiple proposals, not just one. These elements are:

  1. Header - In the header you should put the proponent of the proposal (you, in most cases), the date of the proposal creation, your requested allocation, and a short description of the program or request that is being put forth.
  2. Context Statement - Provide the reader any back information they may need to know to understand the purpose of your proposal. Include any previous proposals that have been previously funded, how much they were funded for, and the status of those projects.
  3. Problem Statement - The problem statement should encompass the “why” of your project. It is the reason for why you want to do the thing you want to do. The problem statement should be third so we can understand your thought processes as we start reading about your solution.
  4. Proposal / Project Description - This is the main contents of your project or proposal. This is where you will explain what it is you want to do to resolve the problem described. You should include sub sections where necessary to delve into ideas while still keeping things concise and on-point. Discuss goals, and milestone
  5. Budget & Timeline - In this section discuss how much funding you’re looking for, what you intend to use that for, and for how long that budget is good for. Break your budget down describing how funds will be allocated to different areas.
  6. Accountability - In this section discuss how you intend to provide accounting and accountability of the funding you’re requesting to the community. The community will want to see that the funds went to the place that was stated.
  7. Team - In this section link to your team, discuss past work and other relevant information. It’s possible if you’re requesting funding for your team that you’ll want to list salaries, link to their github accounts, and more.
  8. Annex - In the annex section place supporting materials. These supporting materials could be bulky images, screenshots, etc keep all of these things at the end of the document so readers can review the points unbroken by images. You can link in-line where necessary in the document to sections in the Annex.

Of these elements, “Team” and “Annex” may not be necessary; but every proposal should include items 1-6. If your proposal does not include 1-6 you’ll be in for a hard time. Below you will find links to good examples that include all of these elements:

REF #40: 1KV Insights Proposal:
Polkassembly: Polkassembly
Discussion Page: Polkassembly
Proposal: Program Proposal: 1kv insights - Google Docs

In the 1KV Insights proposal written by MathCrypto proposing funding for his 1kv insights website you can see that he met all of the elements mentioned above. You can see that this proposal has had a discussion phase, a vote phase, the proposal is split from the polkassembly and placed on google docs in a very easy to read format. The proposal contains the header information, a context statement, a proposal / project description (listed as “Aims of the proposal”), a problem statement, and a proposal objective section which includes budget & timeline information. This proposal does not provide accountability as it’s not required since the accounting was placed in the proposal itself.

This proposal received a total of 318 votes, 317 AYE, 1 NAY.

REF #28: Project Gweihir:
Polkassembly: Polkassembly
Discussion Page: Polkassembly
Proposal: Project Gweihir - Google Docs

The Project Gweihir proposal written by Adam Steeber is another great example of a treasury proposal. It includes all elements mentioned. It had a discussion phase, vote phase, the proposal placed on google docs in an easy to read format.

This proposal received a total of 289 votes, 285 AYE, 4 NAY.

Both of these example proposals follow very similar formats and both had a near flawless AYE vote. When you’re putting your treasury proposal together, a lot of emphasis is placed on how easy it is to follow, how cleanly you put it together, and generally how you handle and respond to feedback. Regardless of the value of funds that you’re requesting, it’s not unreasonable for anyone in the community to expect a proper process and diligence served to the community.

I will post additional information as time permits.

I am happy to help you on your proposal ventures. I’ve created a Treasury Support Group on element, if anyone has any questions or needs any help on their proposal you can find me there. If anyone else wishes to provide support or help please feel free to join and assist others so that we may all grow together.

6 Likes

Hey Tom, this is an excellent guide.

I will add that a treasury proposal requires us to be as upfront and transparent as possible while presenting this information in an organized and easily consumable way. A front facing video proposal or appearing on AAG are great ways to provide extra avenues for tokenholders to participate.

It’s also notable that while some proposals sail through governance quiet as they can, working hard to expose the proposal to as many eyes and as much scrutiny as possible is useful in preventing last minute swings and building long term trust. While an increasing number of tokenholders are using Polkassembly, Subsquare, these Polkadot forums, and the direction channel, many more are active and busy in places such as Twitter, Telegram, and Discord (also places where reputation and networks make trolling more costly). By driving up participation and tokens deployed in referenda, we can be increasingly sure that proposed spends are in the best interested of the common good.

Finally, for #5 of the Design section, defining treasury management plans considering liquidation, slippage, and accurate accounting will protect teams from the risks of volatile assets and save tokenholders the pressure of bailing out teams with unexpected top ups. Great post, thanks!

2 Likes

I think it would be great to also have the empty proposal template linked here (maybe with your comments in it). Do you have that? (I would add all your texts inside and publish a link here).

I do not, do you have a link?

Also, I’m unable to edit the OP any longer, that’s why I haven’t updated anything since the OP.

Hey @tom.stakeplus and @niklasp, here is the link for the Polkadot Proposal Template:

This came from the the Polkadot website: Polkadot Treasury | On-Chain Treasury | Polkadot

Hope this helps!

3 Likes

Additional information and guides for successful proposals have been posted here by coinstudio: