I advocate for charging for our Circles to honour our work and support our communities
My approach to holding sharing circles is holistic and nurturing, rooted in my lived experience, modalities, cultural heritage and traditions, and informed by the rich and ancient wisdom and stories of the lands of my ancestors and where I now call home, whilst honouring the diverse backgrounds and experiences of those I support.
Since Circles found me and I started holding them in my local community, I knew I was responding to something deep and ancient within me; a soul calling.
Over the years my Circle work has evolved in unexpected ways, most enjoyably in supporting others to create their own unique, powerful and transformative circles (and charging for their circles), by being the truest expression of who they are,
My love and devotion to the tradition, process and architecture of sharing circles is expressed through my courses, one-one-one circle companionship, guest teaching, my current on-line membership The Grove, and the upcoming Sacred Grief Retreat (I’ll share more about soon).
For as long as I have been in the on-line business space I have repeatedly come across two overlapping narratives about those of us who charge for our Circles (and other offerings that are considered soul work, or a calling) and include them as part of our business model.
Firstly, there is the idea that we shouldn’t charge for Circles and that in doing so, we are commodifying or exploiting an ancient, sacred and healing tradition*.
And secondly, if we do choose to charge, our Circles must be affordable / financially accessible for everyone.
*Before I elaborate further, I want to clarify that I am not talking about the harmful practice of cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation refers to the act of taking elements or aspects of a culture that does not belong to you and using them in a way that is often disrespectful or harmful to the culture’s originators. This can include things like using cultural symbols, dress, language, or traditions without proper understanding, acknowledgement, or permission from the people whose culture it belongs to, for profit or personal gain.
Should we charge for our Circles?
There is no “should”; each of us has the agency to make our own choices and do what feels aligned with our principles and resources. Here, I am advocating for those who desire to include Circles in their business model and offering reassurance that charging for Circles is a legitimate and ethical choice.
Circles are a powerful technology for building community, fostering connection, and supporting collective healing. It is my experience that by incorporating them into our business models, we’re not trying to commodify or exploit them – we’re seeking to share their benefits with as many people as possible in a way that is sustainable and generative for us and our communities.
I’m incredibly grateful to have the privilege of doing what I love – running a business that has Circles at its’ heart, and working with wellbeing practitioners and space holders, who desire Circles to be a flourishing and fulfilling aspect of their business, and who share my commitment to inclusivity, social, and economic justice.
When we charge for our Circles, we’re acknowledging the time, effort, expertise and energy that we pour into the planning, creating and holding of these sacred micro-events. In addition, there are costs involved with holding Circles, from marketing, to venue hire (or on-line platform charges) to providing supplies (from food to candles!).
Charging for Circles enables us to be financially supported for our work, and to invest more resources into the communities we’re supporting (or co-creating).
By asking participants to contribute financially to their experience, we’re valuing our work and establishing a sense of respect for ourselves, each other and our wider community.
When we charge for circles, we’re creating a sustainable model that enables us to provide high-quality experiences and support to our communities.
Affordability and Financial Accessibility
If we can agree that charging for our Circles is beneficial for us and our communities, do we need to make them affordable / financially accessible to everyone within our communities?
I desire to help co-create a world in which we can all thrive, and that happens through economic justice.
For most of the practitioners that I work with, their Circles are their lowest cost offer, and when they come to me, they are often asking if they are a viable part of their business.
Perhaps this stems from a lurking shadow that we’re not “allowed” to receive in exchange for sacred and healing experiences such as Circles (but if we look across history and cultural traditions this is simply not true). In our times, that translates to not being allowed to charge (much) money.
I think it’s also interesting to recognise that in many areas of services, the fewer places available for something, the higher the price. Most of the practitioners that I work with hold small intimate Circles of 8 – 14 people, and yet their Circles are a low-cost option.
Over the years I have explored many different pricing models in my commitment to economic justice, and I’ve experimented with a variety of strategies that I’ve seen people share. There is more to economic justice than pricing.
Each of us needs to navigate what is the right approach for our business in alignment with our values and principles.
I have found Kelly Diels’ approach to feminist business practices and economic justice very helpful, and I often return to her words that:
…..if the feminist running the business isn’t being taken care of, it’s not a feminist business.
Economic justice isn’t just about making our Circles affordable or financially accessible to everyone (and indeed this might not be the right goal for solo-practitioner-businesses).
Instead we can contribute to economic justice in a number of ways, such as:
- pricing your Circles in a way that reflects the exchange of time, money and energy that they take, and contributes to you flourishing (don’t exploit yourself!)
- creating and offering free resources, such as social media content, your newsletter or blog or podcast
- offering no-cost payment plans (for a circles series or retreat-style event that is a bigger financial investment)
- offering a payment scale so those who can afford to pay more, have the opportunity to contribute towards places for those with fewer financial resources
- once you’ve reached a sustainable revenue point for that Circle, offering a certain number of spaces for an alternative exchange or pay-what-you-can
- implementing a pay-it-forward scheme, where participants can choose to buy a second place that can be offered to someone, or make a donation towards a scholarship or bursary fund
- contribute a percentage of your revenue to causes that are relevant and important to you and what your business stands for
- applying for funding to offer your Circles as part of wellbeing or mental health programs for other organisations or funding bodies (your eligibility will depend on you business’ legal identity)
Our Circles can be containers for radical collective care and sacred activism, whilst supporting us to flourish and contributing to economic justice.
I don’t have all the answers and I can’t possibly know what approach will work best for you. I do know that watching kind, generous, compassionate people who have heaps of experience and useful skills and who are already marginalised by the current systems we exist in, exploit themselves in an attempt to be affordable is heart breaking.
Last weekend Britain spent £100 – £250m (I’ve read different estimates depending on what is being taken into account) for the King’s coronation whilst the majority of the population are experiencing a cost of living crisis (make it make sense!!). Money is an intriguing and complex topic.
I’m reading Decolonizing Wealth, indigenous wisdom to heal divides and restore balance by edgar villanueve, (which has been on my bookshelf for a while!) in which he says:
Money should be a tool of love, to facilitate relationships, to help us thrive, rather than hurt and divide us. If it’s used for sacred, life-giving, restorative purposes, it can be medicine.
Something For You:
If you’re ready to start your Circle Holding journey, I have an audio training to guide you through the 3-stages of self-discovery, planning your circle and filling your circle.