No one within the the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) is reaping any financial profit from the NKT’s activities. The NKT charges a fair and reasonable amount for classes, events, and retreats in order to be able to provide them; and most NKT Centers have a policy that no one will be turned away for a lack of funds. There are also free events weekly at each Center, such as Prayers for World Peace, pujas, classes in parks, and outreach classes.
No individual or Center can benefit from any profits produced as a result of any NKT activities because these profits are used solely to build Temples for World Peace. This is legally enshrined in A Moral Discipline Guide: The Internal Rules of the New Kadampa Tradition ~ International Kadampa Buddhist Union. For example:
14§7. All funds generated through NKT-IKBU Festivals and Dharma Celebrations are public funds and are dedicated solely to the development of the NKT-IKBU International Temples Project. They shall be used only for this purpose.
18§1. Since the purpose of opening NKT-IKBU Dharma Centres is to spread NKT Kadampa Buddhism, all the assets of these Dharma Centres shall be used only for this aim.
18§2. The annual profits made by each local NKT-IKBU Kadampa Buddhist Centre (KBC) in any country shall be used for the development of that Centre, including improvements to accommodation and so forth, and any remaining profit shall be donated to the designated NKT-IKBU International Temples Project account of that country.
Therefore, there is no truth in the criticisms that the NKT is a profit-driven, money-making empire. All profits are donated to building Temples for World Peace, which are intended to create peace in the world by offering people access to Buddha’s teachings.
Does the New Kadampa Tradition charge fairly for classes?
To cover the costs of running a Center or a branch group at a hired venue, NKT Centers charge a facility fee or a suggested donation. For weekend or longer courses they also charge for accommodation.
However, as mentioned above, the prices charged by the NKT are kept deliberately as affordable as possible. There are also a number of supporting member options at individual NKT Centers, and some events are always free of charge.
Some people have criticized the NKT for charging at all 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 NKT Centers have found that it is not possible to pay a mortgage, rent a room, meet the running expenses of a Center, and therefore provide access to Buddha’s teachings on this basis.
Most NKT Centers have a policy not to turn anyone away from classes due to lack of resources. Those who need them are often offered concessionary rates. 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, concessions are available for students who lack funds.
It should also be noted that the NKT, like other Buddhist organizations, is 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 if possible to make offerings because Dharma is considered valuable.