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What is an Airdrop? – A Comprehensive Guide

What is an Airdrop? – A Comprehensive Guide

Airdrops involve crypto projects sending free tokens to their communities to encourage adoption. Explore more about what is an airdrop and its...

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What is an Airdrop?

What is an airdrop? Airdrops refer to distributing free tokens or digital assets to a targeted audience. It is a popular technique blockchain projects use to gain attention, promote adoption and decentralization, and reward as many early supporters as possible. Airdrops typically involve sending tokens directly to individuals’ wallets or accounts, either as a one-time event or periodically. 

Individuals participating in crypto airdrops frequently must fulfill specific requirements, which may include completing designated tasks, actively engaging in the network’s early activities, and contributing to its growth during its initial stages. This method aims to engage users, create a community, and raise awareness about a project or token, fostering growth and decentralized distribution of tokens.

Note, community takes the center stage in Web3/public blockchain networks. Blockchain technology introduced by Bitcoin prides itself on democratizing access to real world resources. From open-sourcing the code-base to promoting collaboration, and innovation, blockchain networks rely on the community to help build them from the ground up.

How do Crypto Airdrops Work?

Several steps and criteria are involved in crypto airdrops to determine who may receive complimentary tokens or digital assets. Here’s a breakdown of how they typically work:

  1. Announcement: A project announces upcoming airdrops, usually through its website, social media channels, or other dedicated platforms.
  2. Eligibility: This varies from one platform to another. Participants must meet certain criteria, like completing designated tasks or support the project’s network operation especially during its early stages
  3. Registration: Through various project initiatives or through a dedicated registration process, participants provide their wallet addresses or other required information to possibly qualify for receiving airdrops.
  4. Verification: The project verifies participants’ eligibility based on the provided information.
  5. Token Distribution: Once verified, the project sends the free tokens to the participants’ wallets or accounts.
  6. Wallet Compatibility: Participants must ensure their wallets support the tokens being airdropped to receive and manage them.
  7. Post-Airdrop Engagement: Projects may encourage participants to engage with their network, communities, and dapp ecosystem to foster further engagement and growth.

Types of Crypto Airdrops

The many types of crypto airdrops are:

Standard Airdrop

A standard airdrop is the most common crypto airdrop, where tokens are distributed freely to a targeted audience. It typically involves participants meeting certain criteria set by the project, such as holding a specific cryptocurrency or registering on the project’s platform. Once verified, participants receive a predetermined token amount directly into their wallets or accounts. 

Standard airdrops serve as a marketing strategy to increase awareness, attract new users, and foster community engagement. By distributing tokens for free, projects aim to incentivize participation, create a wider token holder base, and generate interest in their project or platform.

Bounty Airdrop

Bounty airdrops, or task-based airdrops, require participants to complete specific tasks or activities in exchange for tokens. These tasks vary widely and may include sharing project-related content on social media, writing blog articles, creating videos, finding bugs, or translating project materials. Participants are rewarded with tokens based on the quality and quantity of their contributions.

Bounty airdrops serve as a way for projects to leverage the power of a community to promote their brand, increase engagement, and generate content. Participants can showcase their skills, earn tokens, and contribute to the project’s growth.

Holder Airdrop

Holder airdrops, also known as loyalty airdrops, reward existing token holders based on the number of tokens they hold in their wallets. It aims to incentivize token holders to continue holding their tokens for the long term, fostering a strong and committed community. The more tokens a participant holds, the more they receive in the airdrop. 

Holder airdrops serve as a way for projects to recognize and reward their loyal supporters, incentivize long-term token retention, and strengthen community engagement.

Exclusive Airdrop

Exclusive airdrops are targeted to a specific group of individuals, such as early adopters and/or strategic partners. These airdrops aim to reward and recognize the efforts of key stakeholders who contribute to the project’s growth and success both during the initial stages and over the long term. It strengthens relationships of people from different walks of life and enables various opportunities in the project ecosystem.

Raffle Airdrop

Raffle airdrops introduce an element of chance, where participants enter a lottery-style drawing for a chance to win tokens. To enter the raffle, participants must usually complete simple tasks, such as liking a social media post or retweeting a specific tweet. Winners are randomly selected, giving everyone an equal opportunity to receive tokens and adding an element of excitement to the process of airdrops. 

Raffle airdrops serve as a means to boost engagement and generate interest in the project, catalyzing a ripple effect as more individuals across diverse communities join to enhance their chances of winning.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Crypto Airdrops

Advantages of crypto airdrops are as follows:

1. Fast and Instant

Crypto airdrops provide a fast and instant way to distribute tokens to a broad audience. Once the criteria are met, tokens can be sent directly to participants’ wallets, eliminating the need for complex processes or intermediaries.

2. Low-Cost Marketing:

Airdrops serve as a cost-effective marketing strategy for blockchain projects. By giving away free tokens, projects can attract attention, generate buzz, and reach a larger audience without expensive advertising campaigns.

3. Establishes Loyalty and User Base:

Airdrops can help establish a loyal user base by rewarding early supporters or early token holders while incentivizing long-term retention. This fosters a sense of community, encourages user engagement, and increases the chances of long-term project success.

4. Distribution to Multiple Individuals promoting decentralization:

Airdrops facilitate the distribution of tokens to many people, promoting decentralization and reducing the concentration of ownership with far fewer individuals and entities.

Disadvantages of crypto airdrops are as follows:

1. Tokens Are Finite and Potential for Disappointments:

One disadvantage of airdrops is that tokens are often finite, meaning there’s a limited supply. This can lead to a situation where not all participants receive tokens, causing potential disappointment or frustration. While the project’s product will speak for itself in the long term with the help of its long standing community members, short-term disappointments can result in some users disengaging from the community.

2. Airdrops May Decrease Token Value:

The over-distribution of free tokens through airdrops can potentially flood the market, leading to a decrease in token value. This occurs when the increased supply outweighs the demand, diluting the value for existing token holders. Projects must carefully manage the balance between rewarding participants and maintaining token value.

Are Airdrops Safe?

Airdrops can be safe if certain precautions are taken. It’s crucial to conduct thorough research and verify the legitimacy of the project or organization behind the airdrop. Look for information such as team members, project goals, and community engagement. Be cautious of airdrops that request personal information or access to your wallet or private keys.

Stick to well-known platforms and communities to reduce the risk of falling victim to scams. Additionally, be aware that participating in an airdrop may still carry some risk, as the value of the distributed tokens can fluctuate. Ultimately, exercising caution is essential to ensure the safety of airdrop participants.

Examples of Crypto Airdrops

There have been several notable examples of crypto airdrops in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space. Here are a few examples of crypto airdrops:

  1. EOS (EOS): EOS conducted one of history’s largest and most famous airdrops. They distributed free EOS tokens to Ethereum holders based on a snapshot of their balances. The airdrop aimed to attract attention and build a community around the EOS blockchain platform.
  2. Uniswap (UNI): Uniswap, a decentralized exchange protocol, conducted a famous crypto airdrop as well. Here, UNI tokens were given to people who used the platform prior to a certain date. This airdrop aimed to reward early users and incentivize further usage and engagement.
  3. Stellar Lumens (XLM): Stellar, a blockchain-based payment network, conducted multiple airdrops to increase awareness and adoption. They distributed free XLM tokens to users who signed up for their platform, partnered with specific organizations, or held other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ripple.

These examples showcase the diverse ways projects utilize airdrops to engage users, promote adoption, and distribute tokens in the crypto ecosystem.


In conclusion, crypto airdrops have become a popular and innovative method for blockchain projects to distribute tokens, attract attention, and build communities. Airdrops offer various types, such as standard, bounty, holder, exclusive, and raffle, each serving different purposes and engaging different audiences. They provide advantages like fast distribution, cost-effective marketing, establishing user loyalty and most importantly, prompting decentralization

However, airdrops do still have drawbacks, such as finite token supply, user disappointments and potential token value dilution.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Was the First Crypto Airdrop?

The first known crypto airdrop occurred in 2014 when the cryptocurrency project Auroracoin distributed free tokens to the population of Iceland. The aim was to provide an alternative digital currency to the citizens and encourage adoption and usage within the country.

2. How Do I Find Crypto Airdrops?

You can follow official project announcements on their websites or social media channels to find crypto airdrops. Additionally, dedicated websites and forums curate lists for ongoing and upcoming airdrops. These platforms provide information on eligibility criteria, registration processes, and deadlines for participation in airdrop campaigns.

3. Are Airdrops Taxed?

The tax implications of airdrops vary depending on the jurisdiction and the individual’s tax laws. In some cases, airdrops can be considered taxable events, where the value of the received tokens is subject to income or capital gains tax. It is important to consult with a tax professional or seek guidance from relevant authorities to understand the tax obligations related to airdrops in your country of residence.

Disclaimers: Opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author(s). They do not necessarily purport to reflect the opinions or views of Shardeum Foundation.

About the Author: Anuska is an independent freelance writer freshly exploring web3 and blockchain space. Her articles blend personal exploration with established editorial methods, and she’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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