'Tis time to update you guys on how the charity work is going. If you get our newsletter (subscribe) then you get regular updates on how we are meeting our quotas. But for a more in depth, where we are at, why, where we are intending to go read on dear friend!
The business model
I've blogged before about how we run Yoga Quota as an efficient business whose output is spreading the benefits of yoga to people in need rather than making profits. (see here) But it's worth explaining a little. I've had people asking me
"why don't you apply for grants"
Well our funding model is much better than that! People who come to the studio and buy yoga passes show that there is value in yoga it is worth paying for. Then the proceeds from that go to getting teachers across the UK to teach clients who can't afford it (think very vulnerable people, homeless, ill etc) so the people don't have to pay and if the teacher is doing it regularly the charity will fund them. By the way the studio teachers all do at least one class a week for free. And our wider teaching team our "badge holders" do at least 4 a year for free.
So that's our model and it's better than grants because as the demand for yoga goes up, we can provide more charity yoga. And there is a direct valuation of the "value" of yoga for the beneficiaries- which is through the people coming to the classes.
How is that different from asking for grants?
Well when you apply for a grant, there is someone remote in a trust somewhere who makes a judgement call about whether what you are offering is "valuable" and gives you a lump sum to provide that value to the beneficiary. But if you can immediately show its valuable by getting other people to receive it you cut out the middle man and scale the charity directly according to it's value.
If for example everyone tomorrow went against centuries of popular experience and decided yoga was rubbish. We'd get no clients, make no quotas, we'd go bust and the beneficiaries wouldnt get free yoga. But that would be ok because if it isn't valuable enough for people to buy it then the beneficiaries dont need it.But if we were on grants, we'd carry on flogging a dead horse for much longer.
I suppose by extension if more charities were able to work in this way there would be a better competitive market. Ones that can't survive wouldn't. and there would be fewer "overlap" charities that provide the same benefit but kind of double up on the admin cost. Yoga is obviously an easier way to apply this sort of model I have no idea how it could work in the social services area where lots of charities sit.
Where do the "quotas" fit in
Our Quota makes us transparent and accountable. In addition to the usual charities commission scrutiny, we add this one to our aims! Essentially every 50 people who come and pay at the studio we have to deliver a class for free to our charity clients.
So at the end of the month I run a report of how many paid visits we have had at the studio. Then I divide that by 50 to have the number of quotas we made. Every 50 people we have made a quota.
Simultaneously, I work out how many charity classes we have done across the UK that month. We have teachers all over the place teaching for our charity partners. But most of the charity classes are done by the studio teachers in Oxford for free they do at least one a week for free.
And I make sure the number of quotas we made matches the number of charity classes we have done. Or better still the number of charity classes exceeds the number of quotas (which it always does)
We never go under the quotas we always exceed the number of charity classes. I suppose if we went under I'd just busily organise a few extra ones to make up for the deficit the next month. I'd cross that bridge if it comes to it!
Gone are the days when I would wait a week to make a quota and then organise the charity class as a one off for the next week's quota. In fact that stopped pretty quickly! And now we "make a quota" in about a day 1/4.
You can directly see where your money goes
If you're a paying client at the studio when you tally off your visit on the black board you are tallying against one of the classes that has gone ahead and you can email me to ask exactly what date that happened!
You mentioned badge holders... what's that?
Badge holders are teachers across the UK who have committed to do a minimum of 4 free charity classes a year for Yoga Quota. And if we set up a class that is going really well and is benefiting the people who attend it lots Yoga Quota will offer to fund that teacher so they can continue teaching the charity partner.
The Yoga Quota logo is a trademarked "collective mark" it's like a badge so we call these teachers "badgeholders" I imagine them wearing a little YQ badge like a "fair trade" logo in food. We don't actually have a physical badge that would be too costly!
Who are the "people in need?"
The people we provide yoga for are from a range of groups and we make these as 'edgey' as possible. The poorer/sicker/more disadvantaged the more benefit they can get from yoga!
So I approach various charities who service these groups and offer them yoga classes for free. Simple! Our charity partners are a growing list and our regular ones are on the charities page.
Being inclusive "referrals"
So the most exciting thing I started last year was the "referral classes" where people can be referred to our studio to practice alongside paying clients for free (anonymously). I love this scheme because it is a really inclusive way for us to meet our quotas. Many charities do this with us but the most successful is with Mind UK clients. People get the "proper" atmosphere of the yoga studio and also get the community of like minded people too.
I designed this for our homeless clients. I found that pinning people down to a weekly class at the day centre/food hall was just too restrictive and as long as there was access to a computer to book online, it was better for people to pick their own time from our full schedule. And also the guy in charge of the Big Issue was big on "stepping into" normal society as one of the hardest hurdles for someone who is homeless. How awesome is it that people can practice at our studio for free who are homeless. It hasn't worked 100% for homeless people though so I'm working on that But it works brilliantly for Mind and other charity clients.
Sometimes it is better to have a bespoke class though so we still do that too.
What else? Didn't you blog about branches?
Yeah, we tried to set up a branch in Falmouth but it was not making any money for the charity so we stopped it. Simples. We could do another branch in future with all that learning I got from that attempt. Or I could do "studio partnerships" with existing studios getting them to commit to their own quotas (which we're working on in 3 locations as pilots) or we could grow in this way....
We've excitingly set up a teacher training trading subsidiary which will be a big fund raiser for the charity and "produce" charitable, ethical, accessibility minded teachers who are automatic badge-holders and ambassadors for Yoga Quota! yey! And we are doing scholarships with Princes Trust for this so young, disadvantaged people can go on the course for free.
Such an exciting time and I want to thank you guys for making it happen!