Let's talk about Pay What You Can pricing and why I'm choosing to offer my groups using this philosophy!
In my mind, this isn't much different than when we might have been huddled around a fire, scratching out images on cave walls. Someone needed something - a listener, a spell from the seer, some herbs or medicine. Someone in the community would provide these things and then be given some eggs or fresh honey or a special tool in exchange for their services. The community cared for each other and everyone had what they needed.
Paying money for something we want is just an energy exchange. It's a message that says "I need this and it has value. I will give something in exchange for the value of what I am getting." We used to make that exchange by bartering goods and services, or by giving thank you gifts to our healers and teachers. It's a little easier to have you give me some cash via an app than it is for you to bring me a chicken. But honestly, if all you have is a chicken? And you'd really love to be in group with me? Bring that chicken over here, and we'll get you in a group with the community and support you deserve.
Pay What You Can (PWYC) pricing is a way for us to truly be in community with each other. It's a way for us to say "it's not fair that only SOME people can afford support and care". It's a way for us to pay it forward and keep important self-care accessible to all. It is definitely a mind stretch. We have to choose to "opt out" of a typical capitalist model. We see how capitalism prioritizes ME and GET and MORE. Pay What You Can pricing emphasizes WE and GIVE and ENOUGH. Typically in a capitalist sales approach, people are the tool to get to money/wealth, and we use that "tool" (people) by selling to them, by creating offers that promise and convince, and we leverage people (and their core desires, hopes and needs) to get access to their wallets. Flip that idea on its head, and people become the outcome, money is the tool. For me, with PWYC pricing, the goal is not to become a thousand-aire running groups, the goal is get the medicine out there (without necessarily working for free). And rather than creating a fancy marketing page where I convince you that you neeeeeed what I have, I'd rather build relationships based on trust: you trust that I can offer you what I'm describing, and I trust that the community (including you!) will be sure that my needs are met too.
It only works if we are in this together and we both understand the WHY behind it. Some things that form the WHY for me: Community Care (we are only as healthy as our communities and the most vulnerable folks in them), Equity & Access - I want wide and inclusive access for this work. I dream of a world where everyone has the ability to tap into self-care and creativity. Checking my own privilege - as a cis white woman, in a visibly heterosexual marriage, who is largely viewed as able bodied, I don't want to only be running groups for white ladies in fancy yoga pants. Those ladies are welcome here, of course, but I want our community to be bigger and more beautifully diverse than just that, don't you?
Think about it this way: You aren't paying (just) for your spot. You're paying for the next group of people. You're paying a little extra for the single mom who wouldn't be able to do this otherwise, for the transgender person who can't find an affirming space to do creative work, for the mom in the family being crushed by medical debt due to a preemie birth, and for the person leading support groups for Black moms who just wants to find some support for herself so she can keep giving to her community.
Now, a quick note is that this isn't about trying to "get a good deal". It's not about paying the very minimum. How can I know that everyone choosing their price won't just give me $5 and call it good? I don't know. But here's what I do know and can talk about: I believe in the goodness and generosity of people. I believe that people are generally trying to do their very best. I believe folks are generous and care about their community and will want to make access like this happen. I believe folks care about ME and want to ensure that I'm compensated for what I bring. So I trust in those things. Will I get paid $5 sometimes? Yep. Will that be ok with me? Yep. Because I believe, too, that we have to begin to BE the change we'd like to see in our world. I'd like to see the capitalist model of bigger-better-MORE come crashing down. I'd like to see us elevate people over profits. I'd like to see self-care and art and poetry and deep community connection available to anyone and everyone who wants it, regardless of their ability to shell out big bucks. That's the change I'd like to see. All of these "radical" and loving ideas are the reasons I choose to use a Pay What You Can philosophy.
There are some additional links to check out on the Pay What You Can page on my website. If you're interested in alternative economy ideas, hop over there and scroll to the bottom to check out those resources.
It's me, Crystal. I need a place to put all my extra words.