Donation Based Yoga Classes…Good for the People? Bad for the Industry?

I was recently asked a question:

Do you think free/donation based yoga classes drive down the value people place on yoga instruction?

This was my short answer:

I certainly think there is a place for free or donation based yoga classes. I know that we all aspire to have these practices be available to all beings everywhere, and we wouldn’t want yoga to be something only the financially wealthy can afford. That said, if we also aspire for yoga teaching to be a career path that is respected and allows for sustainable income there must be some boundaries around free and donation based classes.

Here is my longer answer:

I have {at least} these two aspirations for the practice of yoga in our world today:

1. I want the practice of yoga to reach as many people as possible, and facilitate the kind of meaningful change I know is possible. My yoga practice radically changed the way I understood and related to myself. It taught me that true power, strength, and success comes only as a result of a life lived in balance. It has also deepened my understanding of how we relate to and take care of each other as a collective society. Profound positive personal change, as well as meaningful global change, is possible through the practices that teach us about compassion and the interdependent nature of our world. I believe that introducing more people to the deeply healing benefits of yoga has the power to completely transform our society.

I believe the best way to get more people practicing (mindful, therapeutic) yoga is to raise the bar of professionalism for yoga teachers. Which leads me to my second aspiration:

2. I want teaching yoga to be a career path that is respected and allows for sustainable income.

You have heard me say before that running a financially viable yoga studio is incredibly challenging. And bless those who undertake that work…you will NEVER see me own a brick and mortar yoga space. Between paying rent and {hopefully} paying your teachers a living wage, keeping the lights on at a yoga studio is a monumental task. It may be possible to charge $5 per student per class and still pay rent, keep the studio clean, and pay employees and teachers well, but I think it is very very unlikely.

Who takes the hit when yoga studios are undercharging for yoga classes? Since rent for the space, insurance, heating and electric bills still must be paid, my guess is usually the teacher, and other employees, are the ones going underpaid. I am not down on all Seva teaching, by any means. If the teacher has chosen to, and can afford to donate their time to make the teachings of yoga accessible to all, that is wonderful.

My concern with yoga teachers going drastically underpaid is that it keeps our industry and it’s teachings small. You guys have heard me say before that our students benefit from our financial stability. We are able to help more people on a deeper level when we do not have to run ourselves ragged to pay rent. As educated professionals who have put a lot of time and money into our continuing education we deserve to have a comfortable place to live, plenty of healthy food, health insurance, and the ability to provide those things for our families. Our students benefit more from our teaching when we are able to take regular continuing education classes as well as vacations.

My friend Ashley Litecky of Sky House Yoga in Silver Spring, MD is a pioneer in donation based yoga done right. They offer all their classes and trainings on a donation basis within a specified range, with the median number in line with what other yoga studios charge. People who can afford to pay a bit more do, and that makes up for the people who can’t afford the full price of a yoga class.

I do think that arbitrarily reducing the price of yoga classes can drive down the value people place on yoga instruction. Especially problematic are the studios that are constantly offering Living Social and Groupon deals for dramatically discounted prices. Those studios cannot pay their teachers very much, and then talented and experienced teachers will not want to teach there. Thus, studios are packed with students who are paying little to nothing for class, and teachers who are new and inexperienced {and paid little to teach} are teaching huge groups of students. This can certainly have the effect of driving down the value of what we as yoga teaches have to offer.

This is a large and important topic, and I am sure there are many angles I am missing. Tell me, do you think free/donation based yoga classes drive down the value people place on yoga instruction?

18 Responses to “Donation Based Yoga Classes…Good for the People? Bad for the Industry?”

  1. Adam Elenbaas

    Hey Francesca,

    Glad to see you blogging about donation-based business. Since you mentioned our studio as “donation done right” (thank you!), I wanted to add my two cents to the conversation. You bring up a number of good questions and issues. A few weeks ago I wrote the blog below in response to several letters we received in the New Year from people who were thinking about opening their own studio. Maybe your readers will find it interesting to hear more about our point of view!

    One thing you bring up that I don’t mention in the article below is the issue of practitioners getting paid well. We’ve obviously spent a great deal of time talking about this issue as business owners. We have a few thoughts (we’re of course watching our ideas evolve over time and practice!). First is that the market is oversaturated with yoga teachers or people who wish to become yoga teachers. This actually concerns us more than the idea of yoga being respectable, or practitioners making respectable incomes. The truth is that most yoga teachers, regardless of pay scales, will not teach enough classes per week, with enough people per class, to make a decent full-time income. We’re upfront with people about this when they come to our YTT programs because we’ve both done the work of making our yoga and other practices (herbalism, astrology, etc) into full-time gigs. What we’ve noticed that it takes is self-starting entrepreneurial skills (not many people have these), an apprenticeship mind set (I will work, and even suffer, to get where I wish to go with my practice/profession before I think too much about money), and creativity (I may have to combine several skills, find a mgmt position, find a rare salaried position). Because the honest truth is that price points at most yoga classes, regardless of donation models, aren’t supporting even most of our best teachers in the field. To raise the price higher would be misguided in our opinion (yoga is already, primarily, a sale point for middle to upper middle class people). Another successful path we recommend (and this is one great reason we love hosting YOU at our donation based studio) is that you’re an example of someone whose found a creative path with your work. You have found a way to target a wealthier demographic to work with privately. This is a great way to earn more money and make your practice a “full time” gig. Doing private work with people who can afford several hundred dollars per hour is a great way to make your career closer to “Full time.” In New York City, when I was managing a larger studio in SoHo, I saw a lot of our YTT graduates become successful in this way. By taking wealthier Wall Street clientelle, or bankers, or high end execs, (or whoever can afford the higher rates!) you can make a lot of money. And for some people that path really works toward the end of financial viability. To us at Sky House it’s all about finding the people you are called to serve. It’s also about realizing that if you want to be successful or “full time” with what you do, then you’re going to have to do a lot of work to become better and better at what you do (this comes first), while also grinding it out to establish yourself professionally and make money (this comes second). We believe this is a spiritual path that has its roots in renunciation, and therefore to become financially successful it’s important to see this career path as more than just a viable economic “route” from the very get-go (like becoming a lawyer or accountant might be considered as feasible career choices because of what kind of income they ‘typically’ generate). We don’t know any other way to look at this because all of our most talented teachers/friends/etc, as well as the mentors who taught us, did it this way, and this is what we believe is at the heart of “yoga.” Yoga is a spiritual practice (a reunciate’s practice, really) toward the path of enlightenment, and it is this before it is an industry (to pick on your word choice just a little!). The people we’ve known who have made their careers successfully, are generally highly devoted spiritual people who worked very hard to create the viability of a spiritual career. It’s not for the faint of heart. And yet we’re not sure we would want to see it made any easier, because the path to making it “easier” would likely mean more institutionalization, as well as a dumbing down of the process of apprenticeship, and more of a focus on the “product” and “sales,” (which again, to us isn’t where yoga comes from). At any rate–these are just a few of our thoughts, but it is an ever evolving conversation, and we are still young on our path. Below is the blog I wrote on Donation-Based business!

    BLOG: Thanks for bringing up this great topic, which is obviously at the heart of our studio and the path we’ve taken with yoga (as well as our other services: astrology and herbal medicine).

    Lately I’ve gotten a few questions from clients and friends about the “donation based” model of business. What is it exactly, and why did you choose it?

    I wanted to speak to this because I think it’s an important subject, but also because by explaining it or stating it again freshly once in a while it clarifies why I’m doing what I’m doing for myself. Ashley and I just had the chance to talk about this over dinner tonight, since Sky House Yoga also utilizes the donation-based model, and she had her own insights (which I’ve incorporated here).

    Let’s start with what we’re not. We’re not trying to save the world or transform the entire economic system. We have no delusions of grandeur about the model itself. It’s a cool model, and we’ve seen that it works both spiritually/energetically and also financially (it’s good for business). In a nutshell that’s it–we like it because it feels right to us and it works well for us. It’s not about the model itself becoming some kind of ground breaking discovery. In fact if anything we believe the words “donation based” are sort of cloaked code words for “free and open negotiation of energy.” The word donation literally means “to give freely.” And so at the core of a “donation based model” is the desire, on our parts, first and foremost, to give our services freely. However, giving services “freely” doesn’t mean giving them away. That’s why we are sure to offer a variety of services throughout the year “for free” (geared toward people who really have no money to exchange) while at the same time using sliding scales (or what we’ve called donation ranges) for our primary offerings (for people who can afford to pay).

    In our yoga studio for example, while our regular classes are on sliding scales, every Sunday we currently offer all of our classes at no minimum donation and all the proceeds go to charity. And at Nightlight we offer year round “student” readings for people to come into our classrooms and receive readings from students when they otherwise couldn’t afford a reading.

    This accomplishes a lot of things at once. For one thing it keeps us in the spirit of giving freely, which we believe creates a good energy and vibe, as well as great clientele and great referrals. It creates a lot of diversity in terms of our clientele, especially socio-economically, and hence it prevents the services we offer from becoming sterile, out of touch, overly suburban, etc. In business terms, it’s also great for sales. More people in the studio or classroom means more networking and more new clients. I highlight this last point because, again, it would be disingenuous to say that there aren’t legitimate “business” angles to the model.

    Donation-based, as we’ve practiced it, is also something that we’ve noticed promotes word of mouth clientele, and we believe this is the best kind of clientele there is. The criticism we’ve received time and time again has been “but you guys could be so much bigger if you did some smart advertising,” to which our response has been, “we want to grow in proportion to who we actually are, and we believe word of mouth is the best gauge of growth for the kind of work we do.”

    In fact when we were looking for our most recent studio location we had to seriously battle the temptation to get “too big for our britches” with the new location. And so in each decision we make we are trying to reflect the value of the “donation-based” concept. Each sale is a negotiation, not a gamble. In fact, to be a little more extreme, we believe that fixed price points are often an indication that someone is in a state of “need” rather than freedom, a state of “gambling” rather than “trust.” And we’ve noticed this in terms of how some of our clients have responded when asked “How much would you like to pay for your class today? The scale is $10 – $20!” Some people will say “I’d rather it was just $20 so I didn’t have to make a decision about it.” If there’s anything we’re a little evangelical about than it’s the importance of trying to undo this stuck attitude about money and about the act of exchange itself. We’d rather people reflect upon their budget, look at the range, and then pay according to what they feel they received in communion with what they have to give in return.”

    Ideally we would do no minimum donations on everything we offer, and simply “trust” that everything would balance out, but after my first full year of doing astrology readings at no minimum donation I found out, sadly, that this wasn’t the case. There are simply too many people who can afford to pay who see the “donation based” sign on the door of the office and think they’re getting a “steal of a deal” or a “sale.” It was a difficult decision for me to make when I initially set price “ranges.” I initially wondered if there was a difference between “donation-based” and “sliding scale based,” but over lots of time and reflection (4 years of using this model full time), I’ve come to understand that there are a few critical differences.

    The first is that it’s important that being “donation-based” we offer some services, consistently, at no-minimum donation for people who truly can’t afford to pay anything. This is truly the “heart fire” of the model. A core part of our practice has to be about the giving of our talents and gifts, freely, and we must experience what people can give back to us “freely” that goes beyond any fixed price point, OR scale, or even literal ‘dollars.’ Second to this I hold a “never turn someone away because of money policy.” If someone can’t afford a reading, I will refer them to the free student readings (many of which I conduct myself), and if there isn’t an immediate opening then I put them on a wait list. At the studio Ashley does the same thing with her herbal apprentices, and again we’ve found that this “never turn anyone away for lack of funds” model is not only awesome energetically but its very good for business (in terms of the kind of people that come and in terms of the way that growth happens for the business itself).

    With these two “free giving” policies in place, we feel comfortable to offer the rest of our services within “ranges.” What we’ve noticed is that with the words “donation range” people also feel comfortable to approach us and ask if there is “flexibility” for them to go lower (nobody usually asks about going higher–haha!), at which point we are ALWAYS willing to have a conversation. Depending on our work/stress load, personally, we sometimes negotiate to a lower price, though we feel it out and each and every situation is different. If we can’t do it, then we refer folks to our free services.

    Again though–at the heart of this model being something valid and real, rather than just a really clever ‘humanitarian’ looking money making scheme, is putting ourselves in the heart of giving our services to people freely.

    Recently I’ve had a few people ask me about the donation based model, and I’ve felt hesitant to say too much too quickly. Not because we don’t want this model to be used by other people. In fact we hope others are inspired to use it if it seems like the right model. But because it’s not something you can explain quickly. It’s an entire “path” or “calling” or “way” to do business like this, and for us it’s sort of like trying to show someone our heart in a 30 second elevator speech.

    One thing we’ve noticed is that astrology clients are generally far less puzzled than suburban yoga clients about this model (maybe its because astrology is already sort of ‘out there’!). We get a lot of finger wagging looks and subtle comments from “corporate” yoga clients who are convinced that we’re either naive and idealistic or tricky and deceitful. The problem with both of these responses is that they are used to looking at businesses and business exchanges like “models” and “systems” rather than subjective negotiations…negotiations of heart and mind and spirit. We won’t deny that there is something of a “model” involved, but that’s not what we are selling, and that’s why it’s not something to be explained very quickly. At the center of this paradox, again, is the invitation for our clients to “know us” or to “feel at home with us,” or to “develop relationships with us.” It’s a fine line to walk, and we probably fail at it as often as we succeed. But we wouldn’t have it any other way. Somewhere in this “grey zone” we’ve called “donation based” we believe there is the heart of an older, and much more relational way of doing business.

    Since I’ve recently gotten several emails from young people asking us to tell them about how the “system” works, and since I’ve recently had a number of my own students asking about how it “works,” and whether or not they should use it for their own business moving forward, I thought I’d take the time to write out this lengthier response (much of which Ashley was part of helping me craft!).

    Sometimes I go to the store, and I get a little utopian about it. I wish that during the months where business is slow and our budgets are really tight that I could choose to pay $5 for a meal instead of $10, or that I could get my oil changed for $15 instead of $45, simply because the people knew me and they knew that next time I’d pay $60. We don’t live in a world where this is probably possible (maybe we do?), but I’m at least happy that I can create a little bit of this vision through the work that I do.

    ps–even with student readings, you wouldn’t believe some of the stuff people pull to try to get the work for free. For example–a month ago we had a reputable Hollywood actress sneak into our “free” classroom for a birth chart reading. Seeing signatures of fame in the chart, and sensing that our client was trying to milk us for free information without revealing her identity I looked up the name to find out I was talking to a famous actress who most definitely could have afforded a reading (or so one would think???). We let her off the hook without exposing her, but I still felt like sending her a gigantic bill.

    Reply
    • Francesca Cervero

      Adam, I appreciate your comment and insight into this topic, thank you for sharing. You mentioned my niche of only teaching privates and yes, I feel so fortunate to be able to teach full time private yoga sessions to a diverse group of people in both New York and Washington DC. (My rates are NOT several hundred dollars a session, for the record). My other passion is to support teachers, helping them realize their value and empower them to share their teachings with clarity and confidence. Here’s to sharing the beauty of the teachings, each in our own unique way.

      Reply
    • Bernie

      Adam,
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and additional article. I was wondering there seems to be some mixed messages throughout the yoga world. #1 That yogis do not want to institutionalize the yoga world (frankly its just an asana world right now) and #2 there is growing concern about the quality of teacher trainings, new teachers and being able to support yourself through this career. Wouldn’t a way to address all of these things be to make a more thorough framework and institutionalize the world of the yoga studio. I know I am frustrated by teaching full time, making continuing education a priority and still not making enough to cover my groceries let alone give me some peace of mind at the end of the day. If there was a larger institution to help talented, full time yoga professionals (not just asana, but people interested in spiritual advancement) I think it would really help. Right now the word yoga is the most vague, frustrating word. I hear yoga I think meditation, focus, contentment, awareness but I know that is not what my students think and I know that most of the Western world think of yoga as a bunch of stretches. Is this how we want to keep things going? I don’t think a bit more organization would be a bad thing. Whether you want to call it an industry or not, yoga has become an industry in the United States and it needs standards to keep its quality high.

      Reply
      • Adam Elenbaas

        Hey Bernie,

        Good thoughts! I don’t have any answers..just more thoughts. Haha!

        I don’t think institutionalizing yoga is a good thing. That’s just my personal opinion. I think the desire to make more of a yoga industry is a part of the same ironic colonizing monotheism and capitalism (that came from the Brits moving into India 200+ years ago) that caused many “educated” or higher caste Hindus to start emphasizing the monotheistic elements of Hinduism to American audiences (which became, really, just ironic religious competition for Christianity), starting with Vivekananda coming to the USA, etc. It’s just not my vision of India or religion or spirituality. To me plurality is a good thing(s). So I’m more keen on seeing yoga continue in its amorphousness. I think it encourages a kind of spirituality that bypasses our desire for monotheistic religion as well as cultural or economic hegemony. I know that for our own studio, we’ve kept it small and we’ve focused on staying within our means as practitioners, who offer a variety of services rather than just “one” vision, for some of these very reasons. But it’s really just a preference.

        Because who am I to say what’s right or wrong in all of this. I love people who are devoted to a path. Devotion is beautiful. So I have no beef against people wanting to create a religion or an industry out of yoga (the asana part started in the Indian military anyway!). It’s just not my personal ambition. 🙂

      • Bernie

        Saying “institutionalizing yoga” is incredibly confusing. One cannot institutionalize yoga, yoga is an experience, a spiritual practice. We all throw the word yoga around to mean too many things. I’m talking about the fact that if teachers want to make a career of this practice, it must be concise and clear what our boundaries as teachers are. What are the boundaries and definitions of being a yoga teacher? The world has a right to a clear defintion. Psychologists have a clear definition, guru has a clear definition. Yes people can get philosophical about almost anything and challenge the way we define our world but at least if a person is depressed they know they can call a psychologist. I wish when a person was depressed they knew to also call a yoga teacher. We should adhere to a certain level of professionalism and business ethics and have that reflected back by a higher level of yes monetary value but also a recognition of yoga teaching as a legitimate career. I love the idea of yoga being as respected as physical therapy, counseling, social work, and all the other careers that strive to enhance people’s lives. Yoga therapy is on the right track but there is obviously a kink somewhere in the system or else we wouldn’t see so many yoga teachers burnt out living from check to check without health insurance. It is more that just having business knowledge. It also the fact that each and every yoga teacher is hanging out there is this nebulous cloud of “yoga” with no professional support. Wouldn’t it be great if you could take yoga studies and become a yoga teacher through a university where your financial aid would apply? Or if when yoga teachers got sick there was an insurance benefit offered from their full time jobs with yoga studios? Don’t we have the right to more?

  2. Hari-kirtana das

    Thanks for addressing this important question, Francesca. I don’t think that free/donation based yoga classes drive down the value people place on yoga instruction because, as a general rule, people who take such classes know that their donation is benefitting a cause that they value. Donation-based classes connect students to something higher or greater than their own self-interest and donation-based studios, like Sky House, actually foster an appreciation for yoga while connecting students to the tradition of teaching in exchange for donations as opposed to business-oriented studios that skew away from tradition in favor of a for-profit, consumer driven model that can, and often does, reduce yoga to a commodity. As a full-time yoga teacher, I have a vested interest in students placing a high value on yoga and, assuming they have the ability to pay a reasonable rate for quality classes, are willing to support qualified teachers by paying reasonable rates for classes. Ultimately, however, full-time teachers have to rely on yoga studio owners to place a high value on our training, experience, and commitment to teaching because they are the ones who, more often than not, act as the bridge between the student and the teacher. Yoga students imbibe the values of the studios where they take classes so if the studios don’t promote the value of experienced teachers then yoga students won’t learn to appreciate their value. So the question is really one of how much value studio owners operating for-profit businesses place on teachers and how much they are willing to support them.

    It seems that, by implication, I’ve just made a good case for teaching private clients. Hmmm….

    – Hari-kirtana

    Reply
    • Francesca Cervero

      Thanks for this HKD! I totally agree with you on all counts here. I think you are right about the importance of studio owners valuing teachers education and experience. I feel super lucky to work with studios who really do value and support their teachers. I also think I could have been much more clear in what kind of “donation based studio” I think is the problem. Clearly there are many awesome models that I love and support. Maybe another blog post is forthcoming to clarify. In the meantime, does this mean you are going to join our training at Sky House?? <3

      Reply
  3. Bryan Hooten

    I think what Francesca is getting at is we can elevate the level of instruction by elevating the value placed upon it. We all want to be better teachers and want everyone (us included) to be better students and they way we all invest our resources should reflect that. One the possible (loose) interpretations of bramacharya is as “management of resources.” As I say to my students, we can’t expect 1 hour of asana practice to undo 23 hours of poor posture. We cannot expect free yoga to change the way people manage their resources, whether those be time, energy, or money. Simply put, part of what we are teaching is that change must happen on all levels to be effective. I am totally in favor of a sliding-scale set-up or donation-range as long as people are required to more that just show up.

    Reply
    • Adam Elenbaas

      Interesting comment, Bryan. I like this. I wonder though if there is a fine line between this notion of fiscal responsibility and a kind of republican “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps mentality.” You’re right…we can’t expect one yoga class, or even one donation based price, to change hundreds of years of imperialism, economic unfairness, oppression, racism, prejudice, consumerism, etc, etc. I think the work it will take to change these patterns goes much deeper than personal responsibility for our “personal circumstances.” These are collective issues in my opinion. Personally I think the prices of yoga classes are inflated at most “mainstream” yoga studios, and so is the cost of living in our country and so is the self opinion of many people who have “more” than they do “less” financially (speaking of bramacharya). It creates a very particular culture around yoga, and while I do agree that we need to encourage responsibility (this is why we tell people ‘donate more next time, or when you’re able to’) it’s important that people feel welcomed and included. To me I don’t care if they just show up. Please do. There is nothing we need from people outside of their commitment to being present for whatever reason they might have. The center is open and the center is free! At the very least we try to create “something” like this. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Deanna

    We are starting a “suspended class” system at our studio. Some of our more able clients pay for “suspended ” classes which are collected in a ledger (those classes are discounted to $10 from our usual $14). Then, if someone wants to come but can’t afford to pay our usual fees, there is still a way for everyone to join in. We are just starting the program so I don’t know how it will go. I also am considering giving the giver a class for $10 as well. It’s a work in progress.

    Reply
    • Francesca Cervero

      I love this idea Deanna! There are so many different creative ways to work something like this. I’d love for you to chime back in a few months from now, and let us know how it is going for you. Sending love. <3

      Reply
  5. Chrissy

    Francesca, lovely post, thank you for putting this out into the world. I really appreciated the part about if the teacher has the means to offer a seva class, then that is a beautiful thing. It truly is. But not everyone can do that and as householders…people living in the modern world…we have to find a balance in order to create a fulfilling AND sustainable life, one that values ourselves and serves others. I would have loved to have you as my mentor when I was starting my yoga teaching. I always preferred privates over group (for many reasons) but I never really knew how to make it grow and help sustain me in my daily life.

    Reply
  6. Bernie

    Always such great advice! I really liked the example you used of the studio that is donation in a range. This is such an important topic these days and you make some really key points. I see time and time again offering yoga for discount and donation, teachers are struggling. I know I am struggling! If you don’t set a bit of a boundary than you start to feel under appreciated.

    Reply
    • Francesca Cervero

      I hear ya love. One foot in front of the other on your path. {You know the drill.}

      Reply
  7. kathy lixing sun

    Hi everyone, I feel grateful to have come across this page; I was googling online for socially conscious, spiritual economic models, and I found myself very impressed by the ideas here. Although I’m not an active yoga practitioner, I am an avid spiritual practitioner and quite familiar with the yoga culture from previous practice.

    I think it’s essential for serious spiritual practitioners to contemplate how to properly anchor the energy of giving without attachment in this very material world, in which the popular culture is to strive for maximum return financially, and most certainly, a return of some sort. This has been hard for me to reconcile, because I believe in a pure land (in Buddhist terms), giving is really done without any expectation; and the universal energy flows so much better, therefore, there’s no scarcity of anything; somehow, what’s been put out will return in multiple fold; and there’re no issues as starvation, paying rent, budgetting, etc.

    However, as many of you have said, we’re living in a culture heavily distorted by a long history of money oppression, where a small % elite dominate huge % of the wealth; and the root of operation traces back to quite monstrous energy theft behavior at the very top of echelon. So, it’s not realistic to practice purely giving without some planned expectation, just as it’s no longer very common to have spiritual sadhus wondering around surviving off of donated alms; simply because our common culture is not very cherishing other in its material handling.

    Having said that, I therefore applaud you for exploring and working through models that strike a sustainable balance between the spirit of unconditional giving, and meeting the material needs of living in a body. I’ve recommended your site to my facebook friends at
    http://www.facebook.com/kathylixingsun and Students and Followers of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.

    And because of your posting, I’ll connect again with the yoga community and follow your blog. Thank you. I believe you are all quite wise.

    Reply
    • Francesca Cervero

      Thank you so much for your thoughts here Kathy. There are so many ways to make a life while serving, and I am happy to have you as a part of our community here.

      Reply
  8. McKe

    I’ve come across this topic a couple of times and the people answering seem to say the same thing.
    It’s true that currently in our culture people are usually trying to find a way out of paying for something or finding a cheaper source. Often people’s mindset would be “Well if the practice is so altruistic, why can’t you just give it for free?”
    As an artist, I experience these types of people regularly.
    They think, “Well if you enjoy doing it and you’re gonna do it anyway then you should be willing to do it for me for free, right?” Rarely do they take into consideration the actual expenses of the process.
    But, I’ve found that when you explain to people exactly how much it costs, they are more than willing to pay for the materials and leave an extra tip. And if they really like the work, they’ll come back – and pay again.

    Now, how do you tie this into donation based yoga?
    In my opinion, make it very public exactly what the costs are.
    Post a modest donation box near the entry-way and above it post the materials with their costs. So the sign would say something like “This practice is fueled by donations. Help support us by: – Buying a new yoga mat $40 – Yoga mat cleaner $10 – New blocks $15 – New straps $8 – Or just show your appreciation by leaving a tip to your resident volunteer yogi!!”
    People are more willing to supply when they are aware that yes, this practice actually does come with a price tag, and no matter how charitable we’re feeling and wanting to be, we cannot supply it our of thin air.
    I truly believe that if people are made more aware of costs of operation they are more willing to help support something they love and care about.
    And that doesn’t depreciate non-donation practices at all.
    But maybe I’m just seeing this in my own mentality.
    I tend to be a charitable person.

    Reply

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