Posted on 5 August 2021

Thanks to the support of our sponsors, Brink has awarded three full time grants and two partial grants in the past four months. In this post, we describe how we designed our grant program to maximize the time developers spend working on Bitcoin and to minimize the time they spend worrying about finding funding.

The application

Our grant application currently contains only three questions requiring a detailed response:

  1. Describe your prior contributions to Bitcoin-related projects.

  2. What will you work on during your grant and what deliverables do you expect to produce?

  3. Is there anything else we need to know?

For any applicant with a history of open source contributions and who already knows what they want to work on, we expect that a high-quality application can be written in less than an hour.

The interview

If an application looks promising, a video call is scheduled between the applicant and one or two members of the grant committee, which currently consists of Brink’s five board members. Members include experienced contributors to Bitcoin Core and LND, so we’re often able to match the applicant with a well-informed interviewer.

Although the interview necessarily includes some formalities, it’s also a chance for the applicant to talk about the parts of Bitcoin technology that excite them the most. We enjoy the conversations and hope that applicants do as well.

The offer

The grant committee meets every two to three months and evaluates all qualified proposals based on how much we expect the deliverables will benefit Bitcoin users, factoring in the applicant’s history of completing projects with similar scope. After the meeting, each applicant is sent an email either declining or accepting their proposal. Successful applicants receive an offer for either a full-time or part-time grant. Part-time grant offers are tailored to the applicant’s specific circumstances. For most other grants, our standard offer has two key features:

  1. Personalized compensation: every applicant has a different level of experience, a different history of contribution, and a proposal with a different degree of expected impact. Offering every applicant the same amount would almost guarantee that the best contributors we could find would be undercompensated. Instead, the grant committee uses its members’ experience in software development in general, and Bitcoin and LN specifically, to make each applicant a compensation offer unique to their situation.

  2. Full time and exclusive: our full-time grant contract forbids grantees from seeking additional money from other sponsors for the duration of the grant. We want to make sure grantees are working full time on the projects described in their proposals, not trying to scrape together a full-time salary by applying for a succession of part-time grants. Requiring exclusivity ensures that we’re motivated to offer applicants fair compensation—and that applicants are motivated to only accept an offer they find entirely satisfactory.

    Of course, grantees are still free to accept spontaneous donations from the community and to work on side projects in their free time (including lightly compensated work such as speaking engagements or article writing). Exclusivity means grantees shouldn’t need secondary donations or side projects and that their primary focus should be on delivering the proposed project. It doesn’t mean that grantees must deny themselves the perks and career opportunities that come from working on problems that the wider community finds both interesting and important.

If the applicant accepts our offer, we typically complete the contract and send the first quarterly grant payment to them in less than a week.

We hope this post has adequately explained how our grant program works to get independent Bitcoin developers the funding they deserve without unnecessary complications or delays. If that interests you, we’d love to receive your application.

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