This piece was originally written for Introvert Bubble members. Some of the offers discussed are only available in the Members’ area.
You ever been to an event where they pass a donation hat around? You ever see the hat stay empty all the way around the room?
Everyone always puts a little into the hat.
Because even though it’s optional, we all know that if we are that one person who doesn’t put anything in the hat, maybe folks will judge us. Nobody wants to be the only one who didn’t put something in the hat. So even if we only have a little bit to give, we still contribute.
Sliding scale and donation based readings, don’t work like this.
You know why?
Because no one can see whether you contribute to the hat.
When you’re alone at home in a private space, you can assume that everyone else in the room put into the hat. You can assume there are other people in the digital room to contribute for you.
And guess what?
Online, the hat often goes all the way around the digital room and stays empty.
Shine the light of your awareness onto your contribution.
Sliding scale is a term most often found in medical and clinical settings. You’ll see therapists using this term. You may also see small businesses using the term. It means that the price of a service will vary dependent on the income or resources of the person being served.
In a clinical setting, a practitioner or office might use a formula to determine the lowest they will charge on their sliding scale. You will see charts sometimes clarifying the discount to income ratio used to determine the price of service.
There’s a significant difference between your average clinic and a BIPOC* spiritual practitioner offering sliding Scale services.
*BIPOC refers to Black, Indigenous, People of Color.
The difference is often privilege.
Clinics can afford fancy software that calculates and charges their sliding scale fees automatically. Clinics can afford to rent office space, to pay the employees that staff their clinics. Their workers make an hourly wage and may even have insurance. And in addition to all those things they might benefit from other kinds of privilege inherent to who they are, where they grew up, and their social status.
I can’t speak for the average BIPOC spiritual practitioner but…
I have no medical insurance.
I do not make enough to sustain the cost of my business reliably.
I cannot consistently afford to feed myself, house myself, pay for medication I need.
I have chronic illness.
I’ve looked at this list in the past and determined that I am not in a position to offer sliding scale readings. It might still be true. I offer them anyway. And I find this is true for a lot of BIPOC service providers. They offer them anyway.
Am I on the bottom of the proverbial food chain? Nope.
I’m in a really awkward generation. We sound smart, and all went to college and are really good at performing status on social networks, but we’re also poor. Most of us won’t say it outright because if push came to shove there is someone we could turn to for help. And as long as we have access to support, we can’t be poor, right? Right?!
There’s another thing that makes it different when I offer sliding scale readings
Since I don’t have the aforementioned fancy software and I’m not going to be securing proof of my clients’ income, I rely on the people I serve to calculate where they fall on the spectrum for themselves. This is honor system in a digital room where no one can see the hat.
Offering sliding scale readings is a risk for me.
If the people that pass the digital hat without contributing have privileges that I don’t, whiteness, health insurance, reliable income, supportive family, relative consistent health, then my sliding scale can be used by those people to perpetuate oppression in my business.
They can take time slots that could go to people who don’t have all those things; they can take time slots where I, who don’t have all those things, could have been making money. (Theoretically speaking anyway, if I saw this happening in my business I would start limiting the time available. Y’all don’t need to worry about me on this front.)
No one means to pass the hat without contributing ever, but the result is the same whether it’s conscious or not.
This stuff is tricky when many of us are broke.
And a lot of us are because student loan debt and America and all that. I’m not talking about feeling broke. I’m talking about being broke. The difference shows in the things we can and cannot reasonably afford. I went ahead and made a chart for you to reference when you are unsure if you should be putting into the hat. It has example amounts to pay and examples of what a person at each level might reasonably afford. Let’s assume this chart refers to my Mini Phone Reading which is worth $ 27 at full price but only costs $ 10 to book.
Note: Specific circumstances, where you live, if you have children, etc., will change the numbers here. This chart is meant as a reference point not hard and fast numbers.
A note about when you DO have money
Some folks argue against the sliding scale model, saying that it unfairly burdens those who have more money to pay for those that don’t. I believe in paying it forward. In interdependence. If I, who can’t even afford to take care of myself, can afford to spend time and energy to support causes and people with less than me, than why wouldn’t I invite those with even more than me to do the same?
— write.action (@siobhansmirror) June 17, 2018
If you are an Introvert Bubble Member with access to my sliding scale readings, use this chart when you book with me. Anyone would do well to remember this post when you use other people’s sliding scale services, especially if they are BIPOC or members of other vulnerable communities.
Pretend people are watching and contribute to the hat.
Here’s more information about sliding scales from a brilliant BIPOC service provider.
Want access to the member’s area where I offer this? Register here.
Featured Image: Dust II Onyx