Why I’m using Pay What You Can model for a communication workshop

One of the most formative experiences of my adult life has been moving from Rome to Cardiff, in Wales, to study international journalism. The whole process was very new to me: living without my family in a foreign country; sharing the house with flatmates from all over the world; managing serious finance. 

Because I’m obsessed with organising everything, managing finance was done in a very methodic way. I’d have budgets divided into categories for each month and once the budget finished I had to wait the following month to spend more money. 

This was around the time I discovered the photography courses at the FFotogallery. Photography and creative outputs have always been for me a great way to communicate and eventually became part of my profession. But in my thirst for knowledge, I wanted to learn more, be better, improve. I was lucky enough to attend a free photography session with Michal Iwanowski. It was illuminating (you can see some of my very early results below). And I wanted more. A photojournalism course ranged between 80 and 100 pounds. Which for a broke student like me sounded like 80K and 100K pounds. I kept repeating myself I’d save money for it, maybe next month, maybe next month. But I never did. 

If I could go back in time I’d invest those 80 pounds right away. And not because I now understand the value of the course nor because I need to vindicate myself for not taking a clear decision. Instead, because the longer I worked in the communication and media world, the more those numbers multiplied and for courses that seemed much less exciting. 

Especially in a city like London that offers a multitude of opportunities, training in communication have prohibitive prices for small charities, social enterprises, and nonprofits with limited budgets. This is not to say they are not worth it but only to highlight the fact that this disproportionate division of wealth always harms those little initiatives that are still making a difference and would do it more if given the chance. 

In the past months, after gathering all the knowledge acquired in my ten years working as a communication consultant and media producer for nonprofits, I decided to design a workshop that would help, like I like to say, to “boost the communication superpowers” of smaller organisations. It is a course that goes beyond what we usually read on communication and helps to build a communication strategy from the foundations up while reflecting on marketing, psychology, philosophy and business strategies. 

A friend of mine who works for a national bank used to tell me that money is never a problem. I don’t want it to be for people attending my workshop and that is why I have decided to use the pay what you can model. 

This business model also called pay what you want, has been around for a while. It allows clients, in my case participants, to allocate a value to the offer and decide a price also based on what they can afford. In the UK it has been widely used in cafés and restaurants. I have spoken to few colleagues who successfully used it for their work and guarantee profits have been diverse but overall good. 

The pay what you can model is for me a bet and a test. It’s not like I’m a millionaire, I still have to pay bills but I do value participants’ opinion to the point that I entrust them with the decision about the price. On top of that, I do not want anyone to miss the opportunity to take part in my workshop because of money constraints. 

I am a big believer in the power of experimenting so the way people pay for my workshop might change in the future: this might be the last workshop I do use this method or I might split charges for the next ones, we’ll see. 

In the meantime if you want to judge, learn and value a communication workshop I’d recommend you to sign up for Find your voice, an innovative communication workshop thought specifically for nonprofits and social enterprises. 

Hopefully, this will be an opportunity you’ll jump on so that one day when looking back you won’t say “what if?” like I did. 

Until next time,

Bea

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