A Gift Economy is a culture or community that sees the movement of resources between people as a means to deepen connection, not as competition or commerce.
The term is borrowed from analyses of some pre-industrial societies, and we use it to describe a variation of the ancient Buddhist practice of giving (dāna) material resources to monastics, which is the single most important factor in the existence of a strong community that can preserve and transmit the teachings. Monastics give their lives to practice and pastoral care, and the laity support them the way you might support your family: as a gesture of love and connection, not as a market exchange.
Your generosity allows me to offer practice events in this way, open to all, and supportive of an inclusive practice community. It also supports the studio to continue to offer donation classes and to value this model for spiritual practice as an important counterpart to the standard business model.
If you are new to the Gift Economy model for a class or event, you might reflect on how much you generally are charged for similar classes or events, and how Satsang is similar or different from those, as well as whether the donation model itself affects your feelings around offering money to a teacher or space. Gift Economy is a practice, and can be deeply transformative if we engage with it sincerely.
You can read more about the beautiful, traditional, community-centered pricing model called Gift Economy, here.