What is time-banking?
While time-banking was created over thirty years ago, it is a new concept to many of us. The basic premise of time-banking is that it is an organized way to “pay-it-forward.” For every hour you invest doing work for someone via a Time Bank, you receive an hour that you can spend on any service offered via the Time Bank (not just with the person to whom you provided the service). On the surface this premise seems simple, but when looked at more deeply, time-banking offers new ways of thinking about time, wealth and community.
Time-banking was founded by Edgar Cahn upon Five Core Values:
• We are all assets – Everyone has something to offer. No one knows or does everything, and everyone knows and can do something.
• Some work is valuable beyond market price – and that work needs to be recognized and rewarded. Everyone benefits when we work toward raising healthy children, building strong families, revitalizing neighborhoods, living sustainably, and fostering social justice.
• Helping works better as a two-way street. When neighbors help one another, we are all stronger. The community we create offers a greater reward than simply the sum of the work done.
• We need each other. Alone, we are limited in what we can achieve. Networks are stronger than individuals. When we work together, we can build the world we envision.
• Every human being matters. There are no throwaway people. Everybody has something to offer, and has unmet needs as well
How does time-banking work?
When you work for an hour to do something for an individual or group, you earn a Time Credit. Then you can use that Time Credit to buy an hour of a neighbor’s time or engage in a group activity offered by a neighbor or a community partner (an organizational member of Time4Time).
Why should I care and what’s so special about time-banking?
Many people are looking up from their busy lives and wondering if something essential hasn’t gone missing. Is the nuclear family enough to feel fully alive?
Some of us can remember a time when family members lived close by each other and we knew most of the people living in our neighborhoods. Some of us have only heard about it.
Helping each other out was a given, something we did for each other every day. From watching someone’s kids for a few hours, dropping off meals for a sickly neighbor to potluck suppers and barn raisings, communities were full of exchanges and mutually supportive networks of family and friends.
Few people would disagree that times have changed, that these networks are gradually disappearing and few of us have family members nearby or neighbors we know well enough to turn to for support. There are so many things we do that would be more efficient, fun, and meaningful when shared.
What are some examples of a time-banking exchange system at work?
Your child is having difficulty in algebra. Through your Time Bank, you find a retired math teacher to assist her, and in turn, you provide bookkeeping work for a local self-employed graphic artist.
You work four hours a month helping to clean up river and stream systems in your watershed, and donate your hours to a local environmental non-profit, enabling them to request the timebank services of a designer to create a new website for their cause.
An elderly neighbor needs help weeding his garden during the growing season. You work alongside a core group of 2-3 volunteers once a month for an entire growing season to help with this task. This volunteer effort generates enough time credits to allow you to bring in a handyman to help you create built-in bookshelves for your home.
Your church coordinates volunteers through the Time Bank to help elderly members prepare meals and drive them to appointments during the week.
What type of services are traded in a TimeBank?
Who can join Time4Time?
Everyone can Time4Time and all kinds of people/families do. Local businesses and non-profit organizations can join as Community Partners.
Why is everyone’s time of equal value?
At first glance, it seems crazy that someone is paid the same for web design and pulling weeds, but this turns out to be the core of what makes Time Credits really work. In a caring economy everyone’s time is valued equally – just like it is inside a family.
Putting a price on people’s time separates us by making some people more valuable than others. Time Credits help build relationships because they place an equal value on everyone’s time.
Time Credits aren’t meant to replace standard dollars. They are designed to counterbalance the market economy where people may have invested in special training to make their time more valuable. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just taken over too much of our experience of the world. Almost everything is monetized. With time-banking, we are building a parallel economy where people take care of each other as good neighbors. We build extended families by geography, not bloodlines.
What if I don’t have any time to volunteer? Won’t this just eat up extra time that I don’t have?
Not unless you want to give extra time!
Many of the services people exchange in a Time Bank are the types of things they are already doing every day. For example, those of us who have children are already cooking for them, driving them to activities, and helping them with their schoolwork—among other things. Cooking an extra portion of food for someone down the street who is housebound, picking up your neighbor’s kids on the way to soccer practice, or helping the child down the street with his homework don’t add work to your day. Or, if you have a dog and take it for a walk every day, why not pick up your neighbor’s dog along the way?
For professionals like doctors, lawyers and business people, Time Banking is a way to give back to your community without having to go someplace else on someone else’s schedule. For example, you can just set aside 10% of your appointment calendar for Time Bank members.
Even better, Time Banking helps you gain extra time because down the road, you can spend the Time Credits you’ve earned and have someone else do something for you that you can’t fit into your schedule or simply don’t know how to do!
Is time-banking like barter?
It is, but the big difference is that you don’t have to pay back the person who does you a favor. It is a “pay-it-forward” system. That’s one of the reasons why people find it so much easier to do things for others in a Time Banking system. You don’t have to figure out what to give back to the person who helped you. You can choose how to pay it forward doing what you want, when you want.
Who runs Time4Time Community Exchange?
Time4Time is an all-volunteer organization with a volunteer Board of Directors and a team of volunteers who help the program run. One of the most important roles is the volunteer member coordinator, the person who does match-making, member orientations, and member outreach and problem-solving. Our goal is to be able to pay a part-time Coordinator who helps set up exchanges and runs the day-to-day business of administering the Time Bank. The most successful Time Banks have a part-time or a full-time member coordinator, depending on the size of their membership.
How do people connect with each other to offer/request services?
People either connect to each other online via our Time Banks Community Weaver web software or through the Time4Time Member Coordinator.
How do you keep track of your time credits and debits?
All you have to do is record the exchange and the number of hours, and it will be credited to your Community Weaver Software account. (You will receive training re: how to use the Community Weaver software at your member orientation).
Can I trust members who provide me services?
Time4Time conducts Sex Offender Registry checks on all applicants and requires that all applicants provide two references. We also require that individuals allow us to do a background check if we deem it necessary or appropriate.
However, Time4Time does not reference check or do background searches on all applicants. We encourage all participants to use common sense and safety measures to protect their person and personal property. For instance, ask for and check references, do not allow unknown persons into your home without having another friend or family member present, search online for information regarding a person offering professional services, and interview/meet with a trading partner in advance of the trade.
For individuals who are offering driving, elder care, or child care services, we suggest that the service recipient require that you provide to Time4Time a full background check that we keep on file and make available to your trading partners.
Can People Cheat?
Whenever one person earns Time Credits, there is a corresponding debit for the same amount in someone else’s account. This makes it pretty easy to know if someone is cheating or not. No one is anonymous in Time4Time, so people don’t cheat.
What Happens If I go Into Debt?
Having a negative balance is not a big deal in a Time Credit account. After all, people have to receive in order for others to give.
We ask that individuals not go farther then 10 Time Credits into debt, however this is flexible and situation dependent. People who have a history of earning lots of Time Credits are generally allowed a bigger debt limit.
Generally, not much will happen other than a call from your Member Coordinator to remind you that you will need to earn some Time Credits before you can start spending them again. And, for members in need, Time4Time plans to have a special Time Credits donated by individual members that are set aside for community projects or to help out members who are going through a difficult period.
How does FAMILY MEMBERSHIP work?
For family memberships, use the Community Weaver software to register one member of your family, and then email firstname.lastname@example.org with the names of a) the primary registrant, and b) the names of the other family members that would like to join AND their email addresses (each person needs a separate email account).