The nature of the work of a funded proposer varies widely, depending on the nature of the work. Some projects amount to a few days’ work for a single person; some are longer-term and focus on, for example, translation, resource building, or coding an app. Others involve hiring and organizing a team of different roles to execute a large project. Whatever the size and scope of the work, all funded proposers follow a similar pattern for reporting, funding, and project completion.
Funded Proposers are expected to submit a monthly report on their progress. Due to the diverse nature of funded projects, the reporting forms are fairly open-ended. Project leads are asked to confirm their project end date, report any obstacles or issues encountered, and provide links or uploads of relevant deliverables.
For the first projects we were funded, the reporting requirement was 2 times a month. It started to feel like we were doing more paperwork than actual project work! The requirement has since been reduced to once a month. This is much more reasonable, but now that our team has multiple funded projects, it is still a noticeable amount of busy work. It is important to note that refining these requirements takes active participation in the Catalyst Community––more on this in the conclusion below.
Project Reports are public! You can view the public document and catch up on your favorite projects in the links below.
The disbursement of funds does not come as one lump sum. Instead, it is divided into equal monthly allocations based on the Dollar-amount of your budget; allow me to explain. Projects are currently budgeted and won in US Dollar amounts, but they are paid in ADA. Consequently, the amount of ADA you receive in your monthly payout will depend on the price of ADA that day. Let’s say your monthly payout is set at $1,000. If ADA is valued at $0.50 in the first month of your project, you will receive 2000 ADA (i.e. $1,000 worth of ADA) as your payment. If the following month, the price of ADA has risen to $2, then you will receive 500 ADA (i.e. still $1,000 worth of ADA).
This aspect of the process may introduce an element of complication to large teams where there may be multiple contributors to pay, perhaps including contractors who would prefer to be paid in fiat money. The financial managers of projects need to weigh these risks and considerations and make a wise plan. If paying contractors in fiat is essential, it may be best to “cash-out” your ADA disbursements promptly to avoid getting burned by price fluctuations - or worse, being unable to pay your team.
We have seen some tune-ups to the payment scheme throughout recent funds. In earlier funds, the payout amounts were divided into several monthly disbursements - but they were not linked to the overall length of the project or to project completion. This meant that a short project would finish their work and still have to wait around for their money, and conversely, a long-term project would get all their money in the first few months, long before they actually finished the work. This didn’t work well for several reasons, not least of which was that there was no carrot/stick incentive for teams to demonstrate project completion! Even if they were dutifully completing their work, it was tempting and easy to wander off or jump into the next project without doing the tasks necessary to demonstrate project completion. Whatever the reasons, early Project Catalyst rounds have had a low rate of project completion reports submitted to date.
Two updates to the payment scheme have been introduced:
- First, teams are asked to specify an end-date. Payments are then divided across that time frame. A three month project will get three monthly payments; a twelve month project will get twelve.(Regardless of length, all projects also receive a “Launch” payment and a completion payment – so the actual number of payments is “project length in months” plus two)
- Second, the final payment is DEPENDENT on submitting a project completion report.
Along with the transparency and public accountability improving with things like Lido Nation’s Project Catalyst research tool, these updates are already leading to an uptick in Project Completion reports.
At this time, the project close process requires both a written report and a video to be submitted.
- Written Report: Project teams are expected to put together written documentation that demonstrates project completion. This includes reviewing the measurable outcomes promised in the proposal and providing relevant proof. The report outline also asks proposers to reflect on project challenges, learnings, and next steps.
- Video: Many projects require a “demo” to really explain and understand what was built. That’s where the closeout video comes in! Project teams are asked to provide a short (2-5 minute) video and do a “show & tell” of what they have created. In addition to providing a valuable work record, select videos may be shared more widely by Project Catalyst leadership on social channels or zoom meetings.
Project Close reports are also public and can be found in the same document as Project Status reports. You can find it in the links below.
Project Catalyst has its critics. Indeed, anyone who has participated at any level has almost certainly found something to complain about: “The voting app is not user-friendly!” “The CA process is too cryptic!” “Funded proposers have too much paperwork!” Instead of focusing on the problems, and in the spirit of scientific endeavor, I suggest we focus on the progress - proof that refinement occurs due to active participation. In just the three rounds we have participated in as funded proposers, we have seen changes and improvements occur in every area, from onboarding to reporting to project completion. As you likely know, the very definition of Project Catalyst is that it is an ongoing experiment. Making changes and trying new ideas is not a sign that it is broken; quite the opposite, it is proof that it is working. There is more work to do, and we hope you will be part of it - because the future is for everyone!