What is a DAO? A Beginner's Guide to Decentralised Autonomous Organisations

What is a DAO? A Beginner's Guide to Decentralised Autonomous Organisations
Photo by João Marcelo Martins / Unsplash


Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs) are a new and innovative way to organise and manage organisations. They are more democratic and efficient than traditional organisations, and they can be used to create new types of businesses and communities.

In this article, we will discuss what DAOs are, how they work, and why they are important. We will also look at some examples of DAOs that are currently in operation, and we will discuss the future of DAOs.

What is a DAO?

A DAO, short for Decentralised Autonomous Organisation, is a blockchain-based digital organisation that operates through smart contracts. Unlike traditional organisations with a centralised hierarchy, a DAO is entirely autonomous and decentralised, governed by its members through transparent and programmable rules written into smart contracts.

In a DAO, decisions are made collectively, and the organisation's actions are executed automatically based on the consensus of its community members. DAOs empower participants to have a direct say in the organisation's operations, funding, and future direction, making them truly democratic and community-driven entities.

Brief Background of DAOs

The concept of DAOs was first introduced in 2013 by Daniel Larimer and later gained significant attention in 2016 when "The DAO" was launched on the Ethereum blockchain. The DAO was a decentralised venture capital fund that aimed to invest in various projects based on the decisions of its token holders.

Unfortunately, The DAO suffered a critical smart contract vulnerability, leading to a significant hack, and eventually, a controversial hard fork on the Ethereum blockchain. Despite this setback, the idea of DAOs persisted, and the lessons learned from The DAO's experience led to the development of more secure and robust DAO frameworks.

How do DAOs work?

DAOs operate through smart contracts, self-executing code that enforces the rules and regulations agreed upon by the community. These smart contracts are deployed on blockchain platforms like Ethereum, Polkadot, COSMOS, Solana, and others, ensuring transparency, immutability, and security.

Key elements of a DAO's operation include:

  • Governance: DAO members participate in decision-making processes by voting on proposals and changes to the organisation's rules. Each member's voting power is often proportional to the number of tokens they hold.
  • Funding: DAOs manage a treasury of funds collected through token sales or contributions. Community members can propose projects or initiatives and seek funding from the DAO's treasury.
  • Proposals: Any member of a DAO can submit proposals for consideration. These proposals may include budget requests, changes to the organisation's rules, or project proposals.
  • Voting: Members cast their votes on proposals, and once a predefined threshold is reached, the smart contract automatically executes the outcome.

Examples of DAOs Across Different Blockchain Ecosystems

  • Ethereum: Besides The DAO, there are several successful DAOs on Ethereum, such as MakerDAO, which manages the decentralised stablecoin DAI, and MolochDAO, focused on supporting Ethereum ecosystem projects.
  • Polkadot: Polkadot's governance system allows DOT token holders to participate in decision-making for protocol upgrades and network management.
  • COSMOS: COSMOS utilises a DAO model called GravityDEX DAO, which governs the GravityDEX decentralised exchange.
  • Solana: Solana has witnessed the emergence of various community-driven DAOs, including Raydium DAO, managing the popular decentralised exchange on the Solana blockchain.
  • Tezos: Tezos has a vibrant DAO ecosystem, with DAOs such as DexterDAO and KATZENDAO leading the way.
  • Cardano: Cardano is also home to a number of DAOs, including Catalyst, which funds community-driven projects.
Photo by Michael Förtsch / Unsplash

Are DAOs Important for the Crypto Space?

DAOs are undeniably crucial for the crypto space. They represent a powerful shift towards decentralisation and democratisation, aligning with the core values of blockchain technology. By involving community members in decision-making and resource allocation, DAOs foster collaboration, transparency, and inclusivity.

Moreover, DAOs enable the creation of self-sustaining ecosystems, where projects can be funded and developed without relying on centralised authorities. This empowerment of the community helps nurture innovation and creativity within the crypto space.

What Do I Get as Part of a DAO?

As a member of a DAO, you gain various benefits:

  • Voting Power: Holding tokens in a DAO grants you voting power, allowing you to participate in governance and influence the organisation's direction.
  • Funding Opportunities: You can propose projects or ideas to be funded by the DAO's treasury, supporting initiatives that align with the community's interests.
  • Rewards: Some DAOs offer rewards to active members who contribute to the community's growth and success, incentivising active participation.
  • Access to Resources: DAOs often have access to exclusive resources, such as data sets, tools, and networks. This can give you a significant advantage in the crypto space.

Do I Need to Know about DAOs as a Beginner in Crypto?

While not mandatory, understanding DAOs can be highly beneficial for beginners in the crypto space. DAOs are becoming increasingly prevalent in decentralised ecosystems, and knowing how they work and the opportunities they present will enable you to make informed decisions.

Additionally, participating in DAOs can provide valuable hands-on experience and deepen your understanding of decentralised governance and community-driven projects.

Future of DAOs

The future of DAOs is promising, as their potential applications extend beyond governance and funding. We can expect to see DAOs evolve to govern complex decentralised systems, enable decentralised decision-making in various industries, and empower communities to self-organise and collaborate on a global scale.


DAOs are a new and innovative way to organise and manage organisations. They are more democratic and efficient than traditional organisations, and they can be used to create new types of businesses and communities. We can expect to see them used for a wider variety of purposes in the years to come.

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Please note that the information presented in this review is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice. It is important to understand that cryptocurrency assets are known for their high market volatility, and engaging in buying, selling, or trading them involves substantial financial risks. It is recommended to exercise caution and conduct thorough research before making any investment decisions. The responsibility for any financial consequences resulting from your actions lies solely with you.

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