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DAO Examples: 4 Stories of Collective Success


From advancing global health initiatives to promoting financial inclusion, there are a growing number of DAO examples proving digital asset-powered collectives can provide new models to tackle the world's most pressing challenges.

This paradigm shift is democratizing creativity, facilitating discoveries, and mobilizing human potential. No longer will progress be limited by the constraints of hierarchical institutions or the agendas of entrenched power brokers. Instead, we will see a flourishing of radical, bottom-up innovation - driven by the coordinated efforts of passionate individuals united in their desire to build a better world.

By putting community empowerment and radical transparency front and center, Impact DAOs are not just changing how we fundraise, but how we create substantial, lasting change.

Businesses are also turning to DAO capital raising as a preferred means of accelerating their expansion of products and services when offerings have potential to make meaningful contributions to the industries and communities they operate in.

The traditional model of nonprofit fundraising and charitable giving is also experiencing an overhaul. Far too often, donation dollars get mired in bureaucratic overhead, with only a fraction of funds actually reaching the intended beneficiaries. Additionally, donors have often felt disconnected from the impact of their contributions, lacking traceability on how their money is being used.

In 2021, the accumulated funds in DAO treasuries grew from $400 million to $16 billion. The underlying ethos - of decentralized, community-driven funding for social good - represents a North Star of Impact DAOs, and as more individuals, organizations, and policymakers embrace this vision, we are witnessing the dawn of a new era in social and environmental betterment.


Solving Real World Problems - Impact DAO Examples

Before we get to the list of some of today’s most successful Impact DAO examples, here's how they work. Members of a DAO pool their resources, including money, expertise, and connections, and then collectively decide how to deploy those resources to make the biggest impact. The more money, work, or value one brings into the DAO, the more governance tokens they are awarded. Governance tokens are usually Ethereum based tokens which allow for voting on how the organization is run. That includes treasury management, personnel management, rules, and other organizational matters.

These organizations are global in reach. Someone in Mumbai can collaborate seamlessly with someone in Mexico City, all working towards the same goal. DAOs are the ultimate in borderless, decentralized problem-solving.

So why would a traditional business consider setting up a DAO? The potential benefits of a DAO are becoming simply too powerful to ignore. A DAO can help you tap into a diverse, global pool of funding like never before.

A company would set up a DAO to benefit society, culture, or business in some way. This new organization would have a mission that is bigger than the company itself. The organization's goal should be to promote research, development, or a specific cause or mission. Once the DAO is initiated, any company may submit a funding proposal to the DAO. The DAO governance token holders vote to fund on submitted proposals. If the proposal doesn’t satisfy the requirements of the DAO, the proposal must be modified until the DAO members approve the funding request. A company who starts a DAO may submit proposals to the DAO they started. It will be up to the governance token holders to decide if that company gets funding.


Here are 5 Impact DAO examples you should know about:


Mission: Tackling aging with the power of a global community.

Year Founded: 2021

Fundraising Highlights:

  • Current Market Cap (at time of publishing): $57.08M

  • Closed $4.1M funding round with Pfizer Ventures

No longer constrained by the limitations of academic silos or corporate R&D labs, VitaDAO has one of the biggest and most active collaborative communities rapidly ideating, experimenting, and scaling breakthrough innovations in longevity sciences.

With 21 projects funded since inception, VitaDAO has awarded a variety of research proposals with grants including - autophagy activators and their role in aging, mRNA and epigenetic reprogramming, reversing periodontal disease, Chimeric Antigen Receptor Natural Killer (CAR-NK) cells, and methods that target pathologic cells that drive aging.

Announcing their first spinout company in 2023, Matrix Bio was founded with $300,000 and is led by Vera Gorbunova, Ph.D., Co-Chair of the University of Rochester’s Aging Research Center. Making advancements in the field of high molecular weight hyaluronic acid (HMW-HA) therapeutics for cancer and aging-related disease, the initiative is expected to “route research from within a DAO back into the real world.”


Mission: Building tools that enable communities to build, fund and protect what matters to them.

Year Founded: 2017

Fundraising Highlights:

  • Over $60 million in funding distributed through Gitcoin Grants

  • Current Market Cap (at time of publishing): $80.34M

The initiators of GitcoinDAO recognized that in the traditional tech landscape, open-source projects often struggle to secure reliable funding, relying on donations or the goodwill of volunteers.

GitcoinDAO wanted to provide funding and financial support to developers working on open-source web3 projects, helping to grow the decentralized ecosystem. Similar to other DAOs in operation today, this DAO example set up Quadratic Funding mechanisms to incentivize people to contribute to projects, with larger matching grants going to projects that had broad community support. 

GitcoinDAO went through a restructuring in 2024, and what most people associate Gitcoin with these days more closely resembles a tech company that supports a grants infrastructure designed for the Ethereum network. In many ways, branching their operations into two divisions only amplified their cause. Now, other organizations can use Gitcoin in their DAO stack to expedite funding projects while the DAO portion of Gitcoin coordinates community and governance related matters.


Mission: Addressing the coordination failure that has held back the global scale-up of climate finance.

Year Founded: 2021

Fundraising Highlights:

  • 20,393,479 tonnes of digital carbon credits available via KlimaDAO

  • Current Market Cap (at time of publishing): $24.49M

Regenerative Finance (ReFi) is an emerging field within the broader decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem that aims to create a more sustainable and equitable financial system. KlimaDAO is a champion of this space by incubating The Digital Carbon Market (DCM), which “enables transparent and efficient climate markets of the future – with over $4 billion traded to date.”

Not familiar with carbon credits? Imagine you have a bathtub that's constantly filling up with water. A carbon credit is like a voucher that represents the right to "pull the plug" and remove a specific amount of water, or in the actual case, greenhouse gas emissions. Companies or individuals who want to reduce their carbon footprint can buy these carbon credits to offset their own emissions.

The example of KlimaDAO is an important one because companies are increasingly making pledges to become carbon neutral, but the reality is, most of them are still going to have some residual emissions that they just can't eliminate completely through their own internal efforts, thus needing to buy carbon credits.


Mission: Using the power of collective action to solve climate challenges with synthetic biology.

Year Founded: 2022

Fundraising Highlights:

  • Secured over $1M in funding

  • Current Market Cap (at time of publishing): $9.798M

At the end of 2023, ValleyDAO published their Year In Review for the community to celebrate notable accomplishments, including over $1M in funding, and backing their first research project. VallyDAO’s inaugural project allocated ~$260k to Dr. Rodrigo Ledesma-Amaro’s Lab at Imperial College London “to generate novel microbial strains and bioprocesses for the production of oils for foods, industry and energy production.”

Albert Anis, Founding Steward of ValleyDAO was motivated to initiate the project by the vision for a future where biology and technology come together for amplified positive transformations of our planet and its inhabitants.

This DAO example is aligned around the potential of synthetic biology. This sector is considered beneficial for the planet due to techniques to enhance crop yields, improve nutrient content, and reduce our reliance on animal agriculture which is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and habitat destruction. Reducing dependence on animal-based products can significantly lower society’s environmental footprint.

VallyDAO plans to use an Intellectual Property Token (IPToken), which we predict will be incorporated into more and more DAO practices. Through IPTokens, people can directly invest in research endeavors, obtaining fractional interests that provide them a voice in overseeing the intellectual property and accompanying R&D information generated by a project.


How to Start a DAO

Below are the core elements of a DAO. A DAO is not a website, a piece of software, or a token. It usually combines all of those elements to enable an organization to run in a decentralized and autonomous way. At a minimum, your DAO will need to consider all of the elements below.

  1. Think of a mission that is big enough for a group of people to get behind. This mission should be related to your background or your company’s industry. 

  2. Develop a simple informational landing page or website to publicize the organization’s primary messages and objectives. 

  3. Establish an online community through Telegram, Discord, Twitter, Reddit, or any platform of your choice where people can discuss your mission, join, and contribute. 

  4. Develop an ERC-20 governance token to be used for voting on proposals by DAO members. 

  5. Design an initial auction to fairly distribute the governance tokens to members. 

  6. Draft a whitepaper explaining the mission, rules of the organization, and tokenomics along with any research to support your raison d’etre. 

  7. Create the tokenomic model of the governance token with focus on the incentive structure. Consider the balance of tokens in circulation, distributed to initiators, available for initial sale and how much will be retained in the treasury. Retaining a majority of the tokens in the DAO treasury will ensure the longevity of the DAO. 

  8. Set up a snapshot voting account for the DAO to enable the governance token holders to easily and securely vote on proposals.  

  9. Organize “Working Groups'' which are equivalent to departments in a traditional company. Your DAO should have working groups which are responsible for certain functions such as governance, finance, tech, and community management. 

Resources on How to Start a DAO

  • DIY DAO Toolkit: Sometimes, the best way to learn is by doing it with your own hands. While initiating a DAO tends to follow a prescribed set of steps, each DAO will have variations based on the mission and the objectives of your community or organization. If you want to invest the time and resources to start your own Decentralized Autonomous Organization, the World Economic Forum’s DAO Toolkit is a great place to start.

  • DAO Index: The Distributed Governance Score Framework (DGSF) was invented to provide a standardized and quantitative way to measure the quality and effectiveness of decentralized governance systems. It gives projects a way to benchmark their governance and identify areas for improvement. It looks at KPIs such as transparency and accountability, community participation, responsiveness to community needs, and adherence to the project's stated mission, values, and principles.

  • DAO Capital Raising: For companies who have already accumulated success in their main line of business and developed products or services that are capable of making a greater impact on a meaningful cause may elect to nominate a digital asset advisory to guide the DAO initiation process. This allows you to focus on your critical operations and pass the tedious details of starting a DAO off to a team of experts who know how to navigate the nuances of the digital economy, including everything from token creation to promotional activities. 

How Will Your DAO Make an Impact?

A DAO is not a magical singular invention or entity. It is a concept that strings together traditional governance mechanisms while leveraging digital assets to expand access and incentives to a global distributed base. It is first and foremost an organization of people. The people are what make the organization. High quality members will join when there is a strong fundamental mission with competent founding members. A DAO will not fix a fundamentally flawed organization or group of people. It will not have magic powers to expand a poorly thought out idea. A DAO will only be successful if the intentions and people behind it are sincere. 


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