How Guilds Can Better Serve Their Contributors
[This article refers to the internal structures of BanklessDAO. Think of Guilds as Communities of Practice and Projects as cross-functional, agile teams with deliverables.]
At their core, guilds exist to serve members. Projects, on the other hand, serve ideas. Projects live in the realm of “let’s build this and see where it goes.” Guilds live in the realm of “let’s build a culture of kick-ass contributors and keep them around.” Projects form and disband once their mission is completed, or they level-up into something new entirely.
Projects are impermanent, flexible, squishy. Guilds are evergreen, deep-rooted, eternal.
- Samantha Marin
Imagine a forest. Projects are the bushes that bear colorful fruit, the saplings that grow out of the soft earth, and the vines that snake up the trees. Guilds are the tall oak and maple trees that anchor the soil, drop carpets of leaves in autumn to nourish the land, and provide a home for the animals who live in them. Both are necessary for a healthy forest. Both are important. But they serve different purposes.
I don’t believe that guilds should be bureaucratic baggage; they can sit at the core of all we do. After our February 25 Community Call, I was inspired to aggregate some of the ideas shared by our speakers and propose a new purpose for guilds.
The Three Pillars of Guilds
Onboarding: Guilds are the “first touch” for most individuals coming into BanklessDAO. Getting acquainted with guilds and their respective talent scouts is as much a part of First Quest as signing up for the newsletters. Guilds are the “human” side of our onboarding process and the orientation for the journey of self-learning and discovery.
Education: Guilds facilitate the leveling-up of individuals with similar skillsets, so they can better serve our projects. Everyone can always learn and improve their craft to a higher skill level.
Community: Guilds hold space for the creation of a thriving community. Friendships are formed, experiences are shared, and good vibes are created. The cycle is complete.
Onboarding: The Human Side of First Quest
Guild membership has always been a key part of First Quest, the onboarding process in BanklessDAO. Once contributors grab their guild tag, they rush off to the guild channels to start working. I remember my own excitement and nervousness when I first jumped into the Writers Guild. For me, joining a guild was the most memorable part of First Quest because it was the first real human contact I had.
Guilds are the first touch for new members. During my time as a talent scout, few members passed through looking for a specific project team — they were all looking for the guild. Our guilds are the best first way for new members to get their feet on the ground in the DAO. Contribution is the currency of DAOs. We absolutely must continue cultivating high-impact, highly-engaged contributors if BanklessDAO is gonna keep kickin’.
Ways to Measure Onboarding Efforts:
Number of contributors who stick around longer than a month (which typically seems to be the inflection point for new people, based purely off anecdotal data from when I was talent scout) vs. the number who were onboarded.
Qualitative feedback from individuals who were recently onboarded. For example, asking: “Do members feel supported in their personal journey within the guild, and within the DAO at large?”
Number of people who complete a guild’s internal onboarding process.
What We Can Do Now to Improve Onboarding Efforts in Our Guilds:
Put more resources toward talent scouts and guild-specific “First Quests.”
Create better onboarding documentation, “start-here” information, and internal resources for new members.
Cultivate a culture of tipping new people.
Design low-stakes first tasks for people to pick up before they’re super familiar with the guild or the projects associated with it.
Host new member sessions or “cohorts” for new guild members to get to know each other.
Create a culture of holding office hours — these don’t have to be held by role holders, anyone can host — so that new people can feel comfortable asking questions and getting to know people in a relaxed setting.
Education: Help Contributors Improve Their Craft, Learn How to Self-Manage, and Get Started in Governance
The Education Guild changed their mission and purpose to better serve the DAO, and the rest of our guilds could learn from them. Even though guilds are evergreen in status, they should constantly evolve to meet the needs of their members.
There have been many initiatives to educate guild members. The Design Guild has a #learning channel where they share tips and resources. The Developers Guild has held Solidity training for developers looking to get into smart contract development. The AV Guild held a copywriting session. The Writers Guild held a weekly Writers Workshop, during which writing tips and tactics were shared with participants.
We’ve seen members across guilds express the desire and need for improving their skills and honing their craft. We just haven’t formally codified education as a key function of guilds yet.
Ways to Measure Education Efforts:
Number of participants attending the education effort/class/workshop.
Number of “graduating” participants who truly see a leveling-up of their skills. These graduates could be certified via unique POAPs.
Number of highly-skilled individuals who are ready to deploy into project work when necessary.
Quality of work coming from those guild members when they deploy into projects.
Feedback from individuals who have been part of education efforts.
What We Can Do Now to Increase Education Efforts Within Guilds:
Encourage guilds to create an “education” role within their governance ranks. This individual will kick-start and facilitate education efforts and gather feedback from people who are part of those initiatives.
Encourage guilds to have a bounty pool dedicated to funding contributors who want to host workshops, or a recurring series of classes, for their fellow members.
Create a public “Resources” list on the guild’s Notion page for contributors at beginner, moderate, and advanced skill levels to use for personal study.
Help contributors learn about self-managing and the DAO’s governance processes, not just about their craft or skill.
Create a culture of figuring stuff out — if you don’t know how to do it, ask your fellow contributors, find a mentor, and learn! You’re not told what to do, rather, you need to take the responsibility of figuring it out for yourself.
Build a mentorship program within the guild. This will also help build community because it forms strong bonds between new members and more seasoned ones.
Community: The Lifeblood of the Guild
While projects don’t need a community, guilds exist because of communities. Project “communities’’ are people of different skill sets coming together to make something happen. For example, in the Website Project, we have writers, designers, developers, and project managers within one project. Our community there is professional — we work together, we celebrate the good work we do, and then we go back to our “homes,” or our guilds. We have a community of sorts, but the community exists to create a product.
In guilds, the vibe is different. You’re a guild member before you’re a project member. The guild is your home.
For guilds to serve their members, they must be member-oriented always. I like to think of guilds as professional associations, but they’re also similar to social clubs. And those two organization types exist by and for the community. There’s no Writers Guild without a community of writers and there’s no community of writers without the Writers Guild.
Ways to Measure Community Building:
Number of highly active members and core contributors.
Turnover rate of people leaving the guild, or inactive members.
Number of engaged, skilled members who are ready for work when a new project comes knocking.
New roles and contributors per season.
What We Can Do Now to Increase Community in Our Guilds:
Hold casual meetings with no agenda, purely for getting to know each other and hanging out.
Get feedback from contributors who stop contributing or stay on the fringes. A simple form is all it takes!
Do personal one-on-one check-ins with new members.
Reiterate and redefine the guild’s purpose as needed.
Create membership tiers within the guild, like the Writer’s Guild’s tiered system of 1. Pupil (just joined), 2. Scribbler (working their way in), and 3. Scribe (highest engagement, which comes with voting power and other high-trust indicators like acting as a signatory on the multisig).
Start tracking your community’s engagement with DAO Dash.
Praise and do shout-outs for people doing good work.
Activate an intra-guild tipping economy.
Create lots of opportunities for bountied work opportunities outside of role-holders.
I challenge you to identify the purpose of your guild and build roles and processes which further that purpose. Then, I challenge you to write a forum post on your guild’s purpose — it can be short, just a couple of paragraphs.
What is your guild, or community or practice, doing to better serve your members and furthering its purpose?
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