Smear: NKT overcharges for Dharma classes
Truth: In the New Kadampa Tradition, to cover the costs of running a Center or a branch group at a hired venue we charge a facility fee or a suggested donation, which is perfectly normal for any organization. For weekend or longer courses we also need to charge for accommodation.
However, the prices charged by the NKT are kept deliberately as affordable as possible. Compared with other courses, conferences, seminars or retreats, they are often substantially less expensive.
For purposes of comparison, during the Dalai Lama's 2008 teachings in Australia tickets were priced between $90 AUS and $248 AUS for a single day – that's between £45 ($90 US) and £120 ($240 US) at the exchange rates of the time. One teaching at an NKT Center would normally cost between £4.50 and £8 for a walk-in, and an entire day course would normally cost £25 ($52 AUS, $50 US), including refreshments and lunch. There are also any number of membership options at individual NKT Centers.
Some people have criticized the NKT for charging for classes and courses, believing that spiritual teachings should be free or that classes should be financed on an opt-in only basis by the wealthier members; but it is not possible to pay a mortgage, rent a room or meet the running expenses of a Center on this basis.
Most NKT Centers have a policy not to turn anyone away from classes due to lack of resources. Often there are concessionary rates for senior citizens, students and the unemployed. There are also working holidays offered at many NKT Centers, where in exchange for 30 hours work per week working visitors have free accommodation and attend all classes. Even at Festivals, there are a number of sponsorships available for sincere students who lack funds.
It should also be noted that the NKT is, like other Buddhist organizations, following tradition. Since the time of Buddha Shakyamuni himself in India, it has always been traditional in every Buddhist country not to turn up empty-handed to teachings but to try and make any offerings possible because Dharma is considered very precious.