Decentralizing Girl Math: In Favor of a Girlfriend DAO


A Girlfriend DAO is an organized framework for women to finance their adventures together. While it may be a complicated and unnecessary addition to a friend group dynamic, it can also be a gateway to money conversations and opportunities.

Sterling Schuyler

By Sterling Schuyler



October 20, 2023

OCTOBER 20, 2023

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Money shouldn’t hurt friendships. It should strengthen them.

This article is part of my on-going research on DAOs: what they are, how they’re supposed to work, and whether they’re actually necessary to achieve the organization’s goals.

Last year in the Des Femmes DAO Experiment report, I had this passing idea that a group of friends could start their own decentralized autonomous organization to raise money for friend activities:

“A DAO can be a perfect experimental opportunity to step outside that comfort zone and have brave conversations about managing money. Even if a small group of women wants to create a wallet amongst themselves, they can have multiple keyholders (or just share one key to one wallet, for small amounts of money).”

In this vibrant era of Girl Math, women are feeling a bit more free to talk about money…but not always with their friends. Maybe they feel it’s inappropriate to talk about money, preventing them from asking or learning about finances. Or maybe they’re ashamed of their financial situations: many women struggle to navigate friendships where there are drastic differences between earnings. 

If girlfriends want to age and retire and live their best lives together, that needs to change. And a Girlfriend DAO is a great starting point to make that happen.

What is a Girlfriend DAO?

When a friend group of women makes plans together, those plans don’t always make it from the group chat to IRL. And when it’s something big and special, like a birthday or a girl’s trip, there is often the awkward layer of payments and budget (“I’ll book the hotel, so can you pay for my meals?” “Can you Venmo me today so that I can reserve the wine tour?” “Can we do a 3-course dinner instead of 5?”).

It could be more efficient if everyone could transfer funds to one account and make payments from there. But even if the group wanted to open a bank account, most banks don’t allow accounts with more than two signatories (though some have tried). And even if they did open a joint bank account, just two people would hold significant power over the group’s finances.

To streamline the planning process, a Girlfriend DAO offers an organized framework for women to finance their adventures together, no matter how big or small. With a Girlfriend DAO:

  • The group agrees on one primary communication channel so that all convos can be archived/tracked/searched, and one platform for organizing any other information/plans (which may exist already to some extent)
  • The group establishes a set of rules/governance:
    • What do the members vote on, and what’s the process? (Ex: if someone proposes Tahiti for a girl’s trip next year, how many people need to agree? Does the proposal need to include a budget?)
  •  The group starts their treasury:
    • How many members are needed to approve a transaction?
    • What monetary contribution is required of members?

With a crypto-based finances, every participant has equal access to the funds. Depending on the group’s preference, the wallet may be accessible from either a browser or mobile device. The group may also decide how many members are required to approve a transaction.

Regardless of whether the Girlfriend DAO chooses to use onchain technology, it can still provide the infrastructure for making shit happen.


Photo by Yan Krukau:

two women sitting at a table eating breakfast and looking at their laptop
Photo by Yan KrukauPhoto by Yan Krukau:

Example of a Girlfriend DAO

Let’s say I want to start a DAO with five other women I met while posted in Grafenwoehr. Almost everyone is living in different parts of the U.S., and I’m living abroad—but that is always subject to change for military folks.

Most of us have kids, while a few of us do not (either by choice or because we’re waiting). And because of normal life circumstances, in addition to partners being deployed, everyone’s availability is very limited from year to year.

We also have varying incomes. Most women’s partners are enlisted (lower income), while a few are married to officers (higher income). Plus, a couple of us are dual-income households.

We’ve decided to form a Girlfriend DAO in order to coordinate an annual girl’s trip, with the possibility of other smaller events in between.

When forming our Girlfriend DAO:

  • We choose WhatsApp as our primary form of communication, and Google docs for planning
  • We choose DAI as our treasury currency
    • We use a multisig wallet
    • Every member is a keyholder
    • Transactions require 3 signatures from keyholders
    • Funds are available for DAO to use as needed
  • Our governance is as follows:
    • In order to become a member, participants must contribute 100 DAI to the treasury
    • In exchange, they become a keyholder
    • Though not required, members are encouraged to contribute every quarter:
      • 100 DAI every quarter from officer households
      • 50 DAI every quarter from enlisted households
    • A member’s standing in the DAO is not determined or influenced by how much they contribute to the treasury
    • Anyone can propose a change to the governance structure
    • Anyone can propose a project/trip/use for the funds, and proposal must include:
      • Purpose: What is the idea or goal?
      • Budget: How much is covered by the treasury? How much do members pay out of pocket?
      • Proposer must take ownership of executing the plan
    • Once the initial proposal is accepted by all members:
      • A new vote is initiated to determine dates
      • Owner designates people as needed to finalize plan
      • Owner leads any necessary treasury transaction execution

The governance may be more extensive, but this is just an example of some basic operations groundwork. And while it may be established initially to plan an annual trip, the DAO can function in many ways:

  • A member is giving birth to her first child and wants her mom to be present. The family is tight on money, so she sends a proposal to the DAO to withdraw 150 DAI to help cover her mother’s travel expenses
  • A member is celebrating her 40th birthday and wants to plan a party with the DAO members. She submits a proposal to cover 30% of estimated food and beverage costs with treasury funds
  • A member wants to see the treasury grow through passive income streams. She submits a proposal to stake 20% of treasury funds

The Girlfriend DAO has endless possibilities. But is it necessary, or even the right choice for a group of friends?

In Opposition to a DAO

While decentralized decision-making sounds cool, DAOs are a lot of work. Setting up the rules and governance can really suck the fun out of a group chat, and potentially add unnecessary burdens to the whole dynamic.

Even if the DAO is successfully established, coordinating keyholders to execute a transaction can be challenging, as we saw with the Des Femmes DAO Experiment. As of late 2023, the fiat payment rails and UX experience is easy for a single person to book an AirBnB and then have everyone else pay her back. But for crypto transactions? Not so much.

Crypto is still an undeveloped and volatile space, largely due to the regulatory landscape. It’s unknown whether DAO members would need to pay additional taxes or fees in the near future, simply by being a keyholder.

In Favor of a DAO

Technological and decentralized benefits of the DAO aside, the structure provides a collective reason to talk about finances. Because women don’t talk about money openly or often, it can be challenging—even uncomfortable—to coordinate plans with groups.

To this day, my heart still aches over the costs of being a friend’s bridesmaid. She didn’t ask for anything extraordinary or lavish. But because of my measly salary and growing tax problems, I couldn’t afford to chip in for the bridal shower decorations, let alone attend the shower or the bachelorette party. Instead, I suggested they minimize the decorations and other costs (to no avail).

And I didn’t tell the other bridesmaids I couldn’t pay them back until after the wedding. Not only was I embarrassed, but the lack of transparency also damaged my relationship with one of my best friends.

I hate that money—and the lack of conversation about it—hurt my friendship. Not hateful words. Not political or ethical lines. Not even a crime. Just the shame I felt about money.

I’m not saying that a Girlfriend DAO would’ve saved my friendship. But an open door to conversations about money may have. And that’s the potential power of a Girlfriend DAO. When it comes to women making financial decisions, a DAO could provide the communal support to have difficult money conversations and take bigger risks.

Yes, everyone would probably love to have 30% of their fancy dinner covered by the treasury. But maybe one member would prefer to save the treasury funds for the annual girl’s trip, and they all negotiate a middle ground between living in the moment and planning for the future. Or maybe it leads to a bigger conversation about money management, and how members can individually grow their wealth according to each person’s risk tolerance.

Because money shouldn’t hurt friendships. It should strengthen them.

A Girlfriend DAO can make it possible to participate in each others’ life events because members make a commitment to each other’s financial well-being as well as their own. It can foster questions of long term goals and risk tolerance—the kinds of conversations that build a new type of trust among women.

Financing and Empowering Friendships

I, like many money-minded maidens, want to see women enjoy life together without financial burdens or worries. But I also don’t want to make it complicated or intimidating by adding additional knowledge barriers. Whatever your treasury and governance looks like, just start the conversation with your friends so that you can finally bring those plans to fruition.

Because if you pay for something out of the treasury, it’s basically free, right? (This is not investment advice.)

If anyone out there is curious to make a Girlfriend DAO happen, I want to know how it goes. And if you have questions about any of the concepts I discussed here, please reach out!

Huge thanks to Leigh, Kerry, Katherine, Sally, KBC, and Melissa for helping me with this article!

Cover image credit: Photo by RDNE Stock project


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