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Buddhadharma : Winter 2009
53 winter 2 00 9 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly as enrollment seemed to weaken, we decided to publicize Tas- sajara more, because we had never much done that before. We have been able to fill Tassajara through word of mouth. evan Kavanagh: It’s been quite a ride at Spirit Rock over the last many months. We feared we would suffer a 35-percent drop in donations as of about March. It looks like it will be more like 25 percent. The staff and community have come up with lots of creative ideas for how we can cut expenses. We’ve raised some fees and given people different kinds of opportu- nities to give, and those have taken hold really well. It’s been a story of resil- ience and optimism and dedication by our donors, staff, volunteers, board members, and teachers. Everyone has pitched in to turn this around. We were afraid we’d have a half-mil- lion-dollar deficit, which would certainly strain our reserves, but with all the savings, and donations not dropping as much as we had feared, it looks like we’ll only have to take about a hundred thousand dollars out of our reserve this year to offset the effects of the downturn. I have been encouraged by the fact that our enrollment is up 12 percent over two years ago. There are two sides to the story in an economy like this. Demand for our services and the wisdom that is offered here is way up, but what people are able to pay for it is way down. BOB agOglia: At Insight Meditation Society we engaged in a visioning process in 2007, and began instituting some pretty major changes. We aspired to make IMS a center where people (portraitsclockWisefromtopleft):elizabethvigeon;meiyaWender;r.a.heckler;brianspielmann(topleft)elizabethvigeon;(topright)marchamel can come based on what they can afford to pay, while also making some major improvements in our facilities and in how green our operations are. Just as this recession hit, we had planned to begin a capital campaign. All of that has been postponed. Our aspirations have been scaled back for the time being, and we have buildings where long overdue maintenance has been deferred. In terms of operations, 2008 was a record year for IMS in just about every category: occupancy, number of participants, donations, teacher generosity, and so on. But 2009 doesn’t look so good. Occupancy is down by about 8 percent and giving is also down. However, if we compare 2009 with 2007, a differ- ent picture emerges. In fact, 2009 compares favorably in just about every respect to 2007. One place we’re feeling the impact of the recession is our financial assistance pro- grams. We have long had a sliding scale fee structure here at IMS, and we have a lot of different scholarship funds. About a third of the people who come here receive some form of financial assistance, and the amount of that subsidy has gone up 20 percent since 2007. On the other hand, the amount that people are paying above the base rate is actually up from 2007. A little more than half of our revenue comes from registra- tion payments, and the rest comes in the form of donations, some of which is earned income from past donations. Early this year we began to see that 2010 is going to be our challenge Meditation hall at City Center, San Francisco Zen Center’s urban practice center jaycerenner There are two sides to the story in an economy like this. Demand for our services is way up, but what people are able to pay for it is way down. — Evan Kavanagh