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Dāna FAQ

Dāna: The Practice of Giving at Spirit Rock Retreats

Frequently Asked Questions

About Dāna

What is dāna?

Dāna (pronounced “daa-nuh”) is a Pāli word meaning giving. Dāna is the first perfection of the heart (pāramī), and the foundation of Buddhist practice, based in the understanding that giving opens the heart, creates connection to others, and teaches letting go. Dāna in the form of monetary gifts to Spirit Rock supports our teachers, staff, and operations, and is most often the only form of compensation given to teachers for teaching retreats.

Is dāna a tip for service provided?

No. Dāna is a form of practice and part of how our community supports teachers at Spirit Rock. We encourage practitioners to see beyond the transactional view that we encounter all around us and instead tap into the generosity in our hearts. Dāna is “paying it forward,” stepping into the cycle of generosity that honors the Dharma ancestors who came before us, expresses gratitude, and supports those who come after us.

Is dāna tax deductible?

Yes. All dāna processed by Spirit Rock (teacher dāna, Spirit Rock dāna, and meal dāna) is fully tax deductible. However, if you choose to make a direct or individual gift to a single teacher or request specific amounts go to certain teachers, this will not be tax deductible and cannot be processed through Spirit Rock. Only gifts made through Spirit Rock are tax deductible.  

How does dāna for teachers work?

100% of your teacher dāna offering goes to the teachers who teach retreat at Spirit Rock. Spirit Rock does not take any fees or administrative portion. Teachers are independent contractors and not employees of Spirit Rock.

How do teachers split the teacher dāna offerings at each retreat?

The coordinating teacher for each retreat determines the ratio of support.

For retreat teachers, is dāna their only source of income?

It depends on each individual. For some teachers, dāna is their sole source of support, while others receive income in a variety of ways outside of their teaching at Spirit Rock.

Does Spirit Rock guarantee a minimum amount of dāna?

Generally no, most retreat teachers receive no compensation for teaching at Spirit Rock beyond what practitioners offer. As part of our commitment to equity, beginning January 1, 2022, Spirit Rock will guarantee a minimum amount of dāna to all movement and assistant teachers, and to some core teachers offering Dharma Training Programs, affinity programs, and 1-2 month retreats.

Do retreat staff receive dāna?

As of fall 2021, retreat staff are no longer paid through dāna contributions at the end of each retreat. Retreat staff, including cooks and retreat coordinators, are now paid similarly to all other Spirit Rock employees, which increases stability and equity for these valued members of our community. So although staff are no longer directly dependent on your contributions to them, they are still dependent on your Spirit Rock dāna to provide a commitment of year-round salaries and health insurance. Please consider this change as you plan your dāna contributions to Spirit Rock both at retreat and throughout the year.

Are retreat staff and cooks provided housing and food?

Several staff members live on the land and work on the campus operations team. All residents are offered room and board as part of their compensation. We do not currently have cooks living in staff housing. All staff are provided lunch during retreats.

How much dāna should I offer?

As you are moved by the teachings and your experience, and understand your own financial capacity, please choose a level of giving that is best for you. We intentionally do not offer a suggested amount. The teachings of the Buddha have lasted 2,600 years in part because of the generosity of individuals, families, and communities across the world. We receive dāna at every level.

How does meal dāna work?

Meal Dana is a gift restricted specifically to pay for some of the nourishing food we all receive in the dining hall. As we return to the land, our annual food budget is $409,000.

What do my registration fees pay for?

Registration fees combine with donations to support every aspect of Spirit Rock’s operations, including buildings, food, staff, and more. Spirit Rock depends on the generosity of our community to continue offering the teachings in an accessible and equitable way. Registration fees gather only about half of our budget, and donations are needed to supply the rest, including scholarships, staff, and all other expenses.

How does Spirit Rock support access to practice through donations?

Our scholarship funds support Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), young adults, those experiencing chronic illness, receiving Social Security, disability insurance, and/or experiencing financial hardship. Spirit Rock offers over half a million dollars in scholarships annually to support practitioners.

Dāna logistics

Are there additional ways that I can offer support to Spirit Rock?

There are many ways individuals can support Spirit Rock. These below are all tax deductible. See Ways to Give for more details and options.

  • Any amount donated above the sliding scale minimum
  • Any dāna offered through Spirit Rock *
  • Meal dāna
  • Any unrestricted gift made to Spirit Rock’s operating fund (a donation to Spirit Rock not designated for specific use)
  • Any gifts made to our scholarship funds
  • Giving through the Stewardship Circle or Sure Heart Sangha

* Please note, if you choose to make a direct/individual gift to a single teacher, this will not be tax deductible and cannot be processed through Spirit Rock. Only gifts made through Spirit

What are ways of giving?
  • Cash
  • Credit Card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover)
  • Check
  • Stocks/Appreciated Securities
  • Debiting your checking account with a voided check
  • Disbursement through IRA/retirement accounts
  • Offering a legacy gift through a bequest in your will
  • Company matching gifts
  • Donor advised fund
Does Spirit Rock accept checks?

Yes, we accept checks. Please be sure you have the PO Box mailing address and that you clearly note on the check what it is for and what the dana split amounts are so it goes to the right place.

Mailing address:

Spirit Rock Meditation Center
(Dāna for xxxx Retreat)
PO Box 169
Woodacre, CA 94973

Do I get a receipt for my donation?

Yes, after making any of the above donations, you will receive a thank you letter with our tax ID information included. If you choose to join our Stewardship Circle by making a monthly offering, you’ll receive an end of year statement around January with a list of your donations/gifts throughout the prior year.

What is Spirit Rock’s tax ID?

Spirit Rock’s tax ID# is 94-2971001.

May I ask my company to make a matching gift?

Absolutely! Please provide them with our tax ID, listed above.

Can I use a DAF (Donor Advised Fund) for Dāna?

Yes! Typically it comes as a check mailed to SRMC, but again be sure you have the correct mailing address and be very clear about which retreat and what the dāna split is for Teachers/Spirit Rock.

How long will the Dāna buttons be available on the retreat website?

The dāna buttons will be available on the retreat website for 30 days but if you’re able, we strongly encourage donations to be made sooner rather than later.

If you are having trouble making a donation or would like to make any updates, please contact 415-488-0164 x281 or sangha@spiritrock.org.

Spirit Rock is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Our tax ID Number is 94-2971001.

If you would like to mail your gift, please include this printable donation form and send to:

Spirit Rock Meditation Center
ATTN: Development
PO Box 169
Woodacre, CA 94973

Thank you so much for your care of Spirit Rock!

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