Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO): What Is It and How Does It Work?

DAOs are innovative solutions that empower all participants to have a say in the development of DeFi projects, eliminating the need for centralized control.

Decentralized Autonomous Organization has gained widespread recognition as they multiply in number and raise substantial funds. A DAO, short for “decentralized autonomous organization,” is an online community centered around cryptocurrency projects or common financial goals that require collective efforts. 

Individuals and businesses are adopting DAOs due to their many advantages. The advantages they bring include inclusivity, decentralization, transparency, rewards, and many others. This has resulted in various industries embracing these features, causing significant shifts in traditional organizational setups.

In this setup, each member possesses a voting right, allowing them to participate in running the organization. These votes are stored transparently on the blockchain, ensuring openness and accountability. 

In the DAO, individuals are incentivized to participate through a governance token that offers privileges like exclusive event invitations and voting rights. From art and sports to crowdfunding and finance, DAOs are significantly shaping mainstream culture. 

What Is a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO)?

A DAO is a self-running organization that uses blockchain technology. It uses smart contracts to handle voting and transactions automatically. This structure empowers the community to make bottom-up decisions, creating a more democratic and self-regulated entity.

Picture this, a new organizational approach where everyone’s interests genuinely count, and no single entity wields all the power. That’s precisely what makes DAOs so attractive—their decentralized and inclusive nature. Notably, they’ve revolutionized fundraising and unlocked possibilities for new business models to thrive.

For instance, DAOs can use blockchain platforms like Ethereum to automate financial processes and ensure fair compensation based on agreed-upon rules. Moreover, they’re great at facilitating shared voting based on different levels of investment, support, or engagement.

Unlike traditional organizations with hierarchical structures, they operate on distributed ledger technology. They can serve a wide range of purposes, such as facilitating freelancer networks pooling funds for software subscriptions, enabling charitable organizations with members having the power to approve donations, and even functioning as group-owned venture capital firms.

Let’s pause for a moment and make sure we grasp the contrast between a DAO, which is an internet-native organization, and The DAO, one of the earliest examples of such organizations created in 2016.

In 2016, shortly after Ethereum’s smart-contract platform launched, Christoph Jentzch and his team showcased its potential with a project called The DAO. 

They wanted to establish a global investment fund that would bring together individuals from different geographical locations. They could collectively vote on investment choices by pooling their funds and leveraging Ethereum technology.

Unfortunately, The DAO’s vision was short-lived. Back in June of that year, a big hack took place, and it ended up with around $60 million worth of Ether being stolen. This amounted to about one-third of the funds that people had contributed. The whole incident caused The DAO to collapse, and it caused a major divide within the Ethereum network.

How does a DAO work?

Using smart contracts, a core team of community members creates operational rules collectively. These smart contracts serve as the foundational framework dictating how these blockchain-based communities operate. Their transparency, verifiability, and public auditability ensure that anyone interested in joining can gain a comprehensive understanding of how the protocol functions at each stage.

Decentralized structure

DAOs heavily rely on smart contracts, which are like sets of rules written in code. These smart contracts automate how decisions are made based on what’s happening on the decentralized ledger technology (DLT). 

In simple terms, smart contracts are like digital agreements that automatically run when specific conditions are fulfilled. The DAO participants set the rules and conditions of the DAO.

For example, after a consensus is reached, the code can automatically increase the number of tokens available, burn a certain amount of reserve tokens, or reward existing token holders accordingly. The smart contracts’ logic is responsible for directing and carrying out all of this.

Unlike conventional organizations, DAOs operate without a hierarchy. Instead, they foster collaboration among a community of users, motivating them with incentives to achieve shared goals.

The internal funds of a DAO facilitate its effective operation. This capital is used to incentivize participants and ensure the organization’s smooth operation. 

After setting up the original rules and putting them into smart contracts, DAOs typically enter a funding phase open to individuals who want to participate and tap into those funds.

Principles of Collective Decision Making

After the funding phase, a DAO becomes active and functional. Users are empowered to make important decisions for the organization by reaching a consensus on proposals. To obtain voting rights, users must own cryptocurrencies and lock them in a voting contract. The more tokens they lock up, the more weight their vote carries.

To prevent overwhelming the system with an excessive number of proposals, a proposal must obtain majority approval from the stakeholders to pass. The specific method for determining this majority varies between platforms and is specified within the smart contracts.

When the stakeholders back a proposal with sufficient support, it is then implemented in accordance with the rules of the network.

Creating and Managing DAO

To ensure the development of a strong DAO, we suggest adhering to this nine-step guide: 

Rules and Structure of DAO

If you’re thinking about setting up a DAO from the ground up, the initial and crucial step is to establish its core structure. Remember that this structure might not be suitable for every organization or project, so it’s essential to be mindful of that.

Prioritize determining the DAO structure before engaging with Ethereum experts or using developer tools.

Before you make a DAO, take a moment to ask yourself:

  1. What do you hope your project will accomplish, and what are its main goals?
  2. What kind of decisions will it be responsible for making?
  3. Is your company ready to embrace a community-driven ownership structure?
  4. Are there specific challenges in your industry that it could address?
  5. Will implementing it benefit your community, stakeholders, and customers?
  6. Can your business function without relying on a DAO?
  7. What technical and developer resources are necessary for a successful launch?
  8. How do you envision your community supporting the realization of its vision?
  9. Are you prepared to navigate the changing dynamics of the cryptocurrency markets?


Establish user participation guidelines in the platform’s decision-making process and administration. Token-weighted voting is the prevailing method, where each token corresponds to one vote. As a result, stakeholders with more tokens possess greater voting influence.

Your DAO structure should use a DAO model that aligns with your goals. As they are still in the developmental phase, their potential applications span various domains. 

Picking the right type can be tough. That’s why we’ve put together a list of different types to make your decision-making easier. 

  • Protocol DAOs: First up, we have Protocol DAOs, which are the most commonly used DAO model. They focus on governance through trustless blockchain-based protocols. They often employ smart contract technologies to provide DeFi services. Prominent examples include MakerDAO, Uniswap, and Yearn Finances.
  • Grant DAOs: It aims to support new projects, particularly within the DeFi space. Notable examples include the Uniswap Awards.
  • Social DAOs: These platforms foster social networking within the crypto community. Blockster is a prominent example of promoting digital democracy by allowing individuals to share ideas and discuss common interests.
  • Collector DAOs: They are artist-oriented and use NFTs to demonstrate ownership of digital artwork. PleasrDAO gathers those who collect NFT, DeFi, and create other digital products.
  • Investment DAOs: They are very common in the industry. They raise funds for various business ventures. They are frequently used to secure capital for blockchain technology and cryptocurrency startups.
  • Media DAOs: They empower content creators to receive direct contributions from readers, eliminating the need for intermediaries. Platforms such as Forefront present huge possibilities for DeFi enthusiasts, including a hub for cryptocurrency education and support for nurtured startups.
  • Token Curated Registries (TCRs): TCRs allow the community to curate and maintain lists of valuable or reliable entities, products, or services through a token-based voting system.


Allocate DAO Tokens

Once the structure and type are well defined, carefully allocating your tokens is the next critical step. This strategic allocation is vital for efficient fundraising and gaining support from your initial stakeholders and the wider community.

DAO tokens play a significant role in:

  1. Providing incentives, rewards and additional benefits to participants
  2. Facilitating voting ensures effective decision-making.
  3. Creating opportunities for robust community growth and development

For the organization to thrive and positively impact the community, it’s of utmost importance that the development team deeply understand the tokenomics of the DAO.

Early project investors will look forward to reaping the rewards for their support. This support is instrumental in obtaining the essential funds required for operational needs and fulfilling commitments to community members.

Onboarding New Participants to DAO

Onboarding new participants is a vital process for ensuring its growth and effectiveness. Here are the essential steps and considerations for successfully onboarding new members:

  • Educational Resources: Provide educational materials and resources that explain the purpose, structure, decision-making processes, and token usage on the platform. Help new participants understand the benefits of being part of the community.
  • Token Acquisition: Guide new participants on acquiring native coins, which often represent membership and voting rights within the organization.
  • Membership Proposal: If the DAO requires a formal membership process, assist new participants in submitting proposals outlining their intentions, contributions, and alignment with its mission.
  • Welcome and Orientation: Welcome new members and conduct an orientation to familiarize them with the culture, ongoing projects, and community dynamics. Encourage interaction with existing members.
  • Access to Governance: Grant new participants access to the platform’s governance platforms, allowing them to participate in discussions and vote on proposals.
  • Foster Participation: Encourage active engagement from new members by inviting them to contribute ideas, suggestions, and skills to ongoing projects or propose new initiatives.
  • Transparency and Documentation: Maintain transparency throughout the onboarding process by documenting the steps and guidelines, ensuring clarity for all participants.
  • Incentives and Recognition: Consider implementing incentives and recognition programs to reward valuable contributions from new members, motivating them to continue engaging with the DAO.


By prioritizing a well-structured onboarding process, they can attract and retain enthusiastic participants, cultivating a thriving and collaborative community that drives the organization’s success.

Voting and Governance Mechanisms

Voting and governance mechanisms are vital in such a decentralized, community-driven landscape. Methods like token-weighted voting, quadratic voting, liquid democracy, and futarchy enable community participation. 

Proposals with referendums are also commonly used. The specific mechanism chosen depends on the project’s goals, including empowering the community in decision-making processes.

At the core of a DAO ecosystem is a dependable and self-sufficient community. Therefore, when launching a DAO, giving priority to community formation is crucial. An interactive, enthusiastic, and united community greatly contributes to the ongoing growth of the project. 

The success of a project heavily depends on the community’s unrestricted ability to participate in decision-making and effectively manage the DAO’s operations. 

A DAO incentivizes, educates, and empowers community members in decision-making as key strategies for effective community building. Encouraging collaboration and social impact initiatives further strengthen the DAO’s long-term success.

It is essential to conduct comprehensive testing to ensure smooth operations and safeguard the platform from potential bugs that could compromise the user experience or pose risks.

Once all aspects function smoothly, you can deploy your DAO on the main net. However, collecting feedback from individuals to understand their needs and preferences is essential, enabling necessary improvements. Regular quality assurance tests should be conducted to ensure the platform operates seamlessly.

Advantages of DAOs

These platforms come with a bunch of great benefits that make them a popular organizational choice:

  • Decentralization: In a DAO, there’s no one leader or small group in charge. Instead, all members work together to make decisions. Each member has voting power, and active participation from everyone is strongly encouraged. This way, the organization operates as a cohesive group rather than relying on a central authority.
  • Transparency: They operate on blockchain technology, enabling real-time access to transactions and decision-making records. This high level of transparency builds trust among blockchain community members.
  • Inclusivity: They allow all token stakeholders to participate in running the project. In this setup, every member’s voting power depends on the number of tokens they possess. This approach promotes inclusivity and democratic decision-making since everyone gets a say based on their token ownership.
  • Programmable Rules: They use blockchain smart contracts to automate and enforce rules, reducing the need for manual intervention. These programmable rules ensure the execution of actions as intended.
  • Security and Trust: Blockchain-based infrastructure and cryptographic techniques enhance security and trustworthiness. Immutable records and consensus mechanisms protect against fraud and manipulation.
  • Global Reach: They operate on the internet, enabling participation from anyone worldwide. This opens up opportunities for global collaboration and contribution.
  • Reduced Intermediaries: They eliminate the need for traditional intermediaries in organizational processes, reducing costs and increasing efficiency.
  • Programmable Incentives: They can design incentive mechanisms using tokens, encouraging active participation and rewarding valuable contributions.

Disadvantages of DAOs

Despite their many advantages, they also face several drawbacks and challenges:

  • Legal Uncertainty: Navigating the legal aspects of token projects can be fraught with complexities, especially concerning potential securities classification.
  • Complexity: The decision-making process can result in challenges in reaching a consensus and implementing major changes efficiently.
  • Security Risks: While blockchain technology enhances security, it is not immune to smart contract vulnerabilities and hacking risks.
  • Token Concentration: Sometimes, the decision-making authority tends to be in the hands of those holding the most tokens. This can result in a governance system resembling that of traditional organizations.
  • Scalability Challenges: Certain blockchain networks may encounter issues with scalability, which means they might struggle to accommodate a large number of users and transactions.
  • Slow Speed of Decision-Making: The process may be slower in reaching decisions compared to traditional centralized organizations.


Overcoming these shortcomings requires ongoing development, adherence to best practices, and active community engagement. They must strike a balance between decentralization and security to address these disadvantages and unlock their full potential as innovative organizational structures.

Examples of DAOs

1. Udao DAO

Udao DAO, headquartered in Switzerland, is a decentralized autonomous organization aiming to revolutionize the skills economy. Their innovative platform unites learners, instructors, and organizations to connect skill development with the ever-changing job market.

The platform boasts an exceptional group of founders, each a leader in AI, blockchain, finance, and entrepreneurship. Their unwavering commitment and expertise drive the organization toward a future filled with innovation and advancement. Their mission is to disrupt the traditional education system and bridge the gap between skill development and the rapidly evolving job market.

At its core, the Udao community leverages blockchain technology and the UDAO token to foster transparency, fairness, and active community participation. 

The platform envisions a global community where individuals can access personalized learning experiences, benefit from AI-based matching for job opportunities, and actively shape the platform’s direction through governance mechanisms.

Udao’s founders are deeply committed to building an inclusive ecosystem, fostering personalized learning experiences, AI-based matching, and rewarding contributions.

The long-term vision of Udao is to establish itself as a leading e-learning and talent-matching platform, offering comprehensive services to support lifelong learning and career growth worldwide.

2. BeetsDAO

BeetsDAO is a community of 58 people from the EulerBeats NFT community who are deeply enthusiastic about music-based NFTs. While their main focus is pooling funds for joint investments, they have also ventured into commissioning new art and music on occasion.

An exceptional achievement was their acquisition of rare EulerBeats Enigma NFTs in March and their skillful orchestration of the “Nyan Dogg” NFT’s creation and sale. This venture resulted in impressive revenue of nearly $250,000.

3. BitDAO

BitDAO has emerged as a standout community project, leaving a remarkable impact on the industry. Boasting an impressive investment of nearly $2.5 billion across a range of DeFi projects, it proudly holds the prestigious title of the largest DeFi treasury globally. 

Due to its ground-breaking innovation and forward-thinking strategies, BitDAO has an unmatched reputation within the decentralized autonomous organization ecosystem.

Ben Zhou, co-founder and CEO of Bybit, plans to invest in DeFi projects, provide grants, and facilitate token swaps for treasury diversification. They aim to create an ecosystem of autonomous entities funded by BitDAO to foster Web3 development across multiple sectors.

4. ConstitutionDAO

Despite not winning the auction for a rare copy of the U.S. Constitution held by Sotheby’s, ConstitutionDAO managed to thrust the concept of decentralized communities into the mainstream. 

It highlighted the effectiveness of community organization and swift fundraising, proving the significant impact that crypto communities can have. This success has, in turn, inspired several similar ventures, including Krause House, which has its own ambitious objectives.

Strangely, even after ConstitutionDAO ceased operations, its native token, PEOPLE, reached an all-time high in trading, behaving like a meme coin.

5. FriendsWithBenefitsDAO

FWB (Friends With Benefits) is like an exclusive club with a unique token. Still, its true focus is exploring how Web3 technology can revolutionize value accumulation in social networks like Spotify and Facebook.

To participate, individuals must purchase FWB tokens, which serve as membership passes. The more tokens individuals hold the more privileges they gain. Members can access the community newsletter with just one FWB token, valued at around $78. 

Owning five tokens grants exclusive entry to community-driven events and membership in FWB’s Cities initiative, establishing sub-DAOs in key cities such as New York, London, and Los Angeles.

6. DAOhaus

A user-friendly platform, it was launched for creating and managing DAOs and is fully owned and operated by the community. Ideal for starting your own DAO or exploring the dynamic landscape.

7. MakerDAO

A platform for contributing to the protocol behind the world’s first unbiased stablecoin, DAI. Participate in voting on changes to the Maker protocol.

8. RaidGuild

A service-based community originating from the MetaCartel network and deeply entrenched in the Web3 ecosystem. Offers opportunities for developers, marketers, and designers to work on exciting projects.

9. Proof of Humanity

A sybil-resistant registry utilizing verification to provide Universal Basic Income (UBI) tokens. Join the justice revolution by becoming part of this democratic community.

10. Opolis

An autonomous digital employment cooperative designed for independent workers, where members collectively own the platform and receive benefits and shared services. 

The future of DAOs

In the past few years, decentralized organizations have experienced a notable resurgence in interest, attracting hundreds of developers who are actively working on technical innovations, enhancing governance mechanisms, and devising improved voting solutions.

Although there is regulatory uncertainty surrounding DAOs, their expansion has gained momentum in recent years. According to Token Terminal data, the total value locked (TVL) soared from approximately $50 million in early 2020 to surpass $22 billion as of July 2023, according to DeepDAO data.

Creative industries have seen significant involvement in such communities, with “headless” fashion brands, perfumes, and filmmaking communities emerging. While some creative DAOs retain partial centralization, such as Decentralized Pictures, where token holders vote on film projects for funding, the final decision rests with a board of judges.

Trends in DAO Development

Experts expect DAOs to become more sophisticated as enthusiasts envision trends like anonymity, progressive decentralization, and improved participation incentives. Future platforms may explore prediction markets and take on roles as delegators in others. 

Their future remains uncertain, contingent on technological advancements, regulatory responses, and user adoption. Yet, their potential advantages, like enhanced transparency, efficiency, and community-based decision-making, make them a promising domain to monitor in the years ahead.

Impact of DAO on Traditional Organizational Structures

Decentralized autonomous organizations hold promise for revolutionizing organizational dynamics with transparency, decentralization, and community participation. To further enhance their functionality, 

Key areas of improvement include community governance mechanisms, integration with real-world organizations, security and privacy measures, scalability solutions, and user experience enhancements.

They hold significant promise for organizations, but further improvements are needed. Addressing challenges and embracing new technologies can enhance effectiveness and transformative potential. Technological enhancements like interoperability, transparency, accessibility, and legal compliance are crucial for maximizing their impact.

Prospects of DAO Adoption in Different Sectors

This revolutionary shift towards decentralization and community-driven organizations will disrupt multiple sectors. As technology evolves, their transformative impact will become more apparent, reshaping traditional models and fostering innovative solutions across different domains.

Decentralized Autonomous Organization has demonstrated their effectiveness in projects like Dash, Digix, and BitShares. Additionally, other industries, including torrents, are exploring ways to integrate blockchain inclusiveness into their future developments.

Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, predicts that companies’ adoption of blockchain-based organizations will increase as they realize the potential for reduced operational costs and improved financial outcomes. As technology continues to evolve, more industries will likely embrace its benefits for greater efficiency and transparency in their operations.


These innovative blockchain-based organizations present an intriguing concept, leveraging cryptocurrency to establish a new form of organizational structure. While they hold the potential to become a powerful alternative to traditional management systems, it’s important to recognize that decentralized autonomous organizations are still in the early stages of development. 

Addressing leadership, risk management, and security issues will be crucial for their long-term success. Additionally, developers must navigate the technical challenges of programming smart contracts, tackle legal complexities related to taxes and liability, and devise effective models to ensure the effectiveness of DAOs in the future.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

The purpose of a decentralized autonomous organization is to enable a transparent, trustless, and community-driven approach to running a project. It empowers people to participate in decision-making processes and collectively shape the organization’s future.

They are applied in various industries, including finance, entertainment, healthcare, and supply chain management. They offer innovative solutions for DeFi, voting mechanisms, and community-driven initiatives.

A DAO operates using smart contracts on a blockchain, which execute predefined rules and decisions based on community votes and consensus.

Yes, most are open to individuals who hold the native tokens or are willing to acquire them to participate in administration and decision-making processes. Some platforms may have specific requirements for participation, but many are open and inclusive to a global community.



At Udao we revolutionize the skill-based economy for people and organizations. Our decentralized Web 3.0 platform enables members to control their skills development, connect and collaborate in a transparent and fair environment.

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