What is TimeBanking?
It’s a way to exchange services without using money; a way to build community, trust and respect. Think of it like this: We help each other build a better community. Members of a timebank exchange skills, time and knowledge within a community. By both offering and requesting skills we recognize that we all have needs as well as gifts to share.
You earn time dollars by doing services for other members. One hour = one time dollar.
An online account keeps track of your time dollars which you can exchange for services offered by other timebank members.
Time dollars don’t replace standard dollars. However, they are designed to counterbalance the market economy where almost everything is measured in money terms. The timebank assumes that everyone is an asset to the community and has valuable skills. Through facilitating the exchange of services, we are part of building a community of people who form relationships based on trust and reciprocity. This promotes an active and connected community.
By joining a timebank you can:
- Get to know the people who live around you
- Support and care for one another
- Affirm one another’s contributions
- Promote equality and social justice
- Re-value skills currently undervalued in our society
- Learn new skills and share skills with others
- Build neighborhoods and community safety
What is so special about Timebanking?
Timebanks value certain activities that are not always valued in the formal market economy: caring, learning, imparting values, sharing, socializing, raising children, being a good neighbor, helping others — all contributions that can be made by every human being. As a result timebanks harness the strength of individuals to form strong, resilient and connected communities.
Timebanks promote knowing your neighbors, re-creating networks amongst communities, and helping each other out. From watching someone’s kids for a few hours, to potluck suppers, timebank communities are full of exchanges and mutually supportive networks of family and friends. There are so many things we do that would be more efficient, fun, and meaningful when shared. It is not complicated, but it is transformative.
How does a TimeBank work?
Members use their time in exchange for another member’s time. If you provide an hour’s service, you can exchange that hour with any other member for a service they provide. For example, let’s say you walk Jerry’s dog for an hour and earn a Time Dollar. You need help cleaning your gutters, so you find Alex in the TimeBank and use your Time Dollar to pay Alex for an hour’s help cleaning gutters. Alex then takes his Time Dollar to Joanne for an hour’s worth of car repair work.
It’s like having a savings account for your Time Dollars. Every time you provide an hour’s exchange, you “bank” one Time Dollar in your TimeBank savings account. And every time you use an hour’s exchange you “pay” with an hour out of your TimeBank savings account.
What kinds of exchanges can I get?
Here at hOur Community TimeBank in Central Wisconsin, you can get yard work, Web design, computer assistance, tutoring, babysitting, hairstyling, salon services, professional card design, respite workers, transportation . . . .The possibilities are endless. From walking a neighbor’s dog, oiling a squeaky door, stuffing envelopes, braiding hair, cooking meals, giving music lessons, running errands to lending professional advice, everyone in a timebank has a valuable skill to share. We just can’t list them all!
I don’t have anything to offer.
Whoa – that’s not true! We have yet to find someone who has nothing to offer, and you won’t be the first – so hold yer horses and let’s explain how this works.
When you join, we will work with you to create a list of services you can offer. We have lists, we have surveys and we have a little bit of magic dust to help discover your skills, talents and abilities. Then we continue working with you toward that first exchange, helping you connect with other members who can use what you can offer.
Interesting story: one man was certain he had nothing to offer. Stuck in a wheelchair at home each day, he was convinced we wouldn’t find anything. Well, you guessed it: we found more than one thing. Today he offers companionship to shut-ins, by phone and in person. He offered respite services for the workers of a young man who just needed another adult around. Today he and the young man have a different relationship: mentor and student – and good friends.
What if I don’t have time?
Many of the services people exchange in a timebank are 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, etc. Cooking an extra portion of food for someone down the street who is housebound or picking up your neighbor’s kids on the way to soccer practice doesn’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, timebanking 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 timebank members. Even better, you gain extra time because you can spend the time dollars you’ve earned getting someone to help you with something for you that you can’t fit into your schedule or simply don’t know how to do!
Isn’t timebanking like bartering?
It is similar, but the big difference is that you don’t have to make a direct exchange with one person. 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 timebanking 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.
How do I join?
It’s easy to join –
- Fill out the membership application.
- Give us permission to run a background check.
- Meet with us to get your profile completed.
- Start exchanging services!
It’s that easy. Questions? Just call us 715-254-4282
Who can join?
Everyone can join a timebank and all kinds of people do. Anyone and everyone, from individuals to families to businesses and organizations! TimeBanking offers advantages for everyone.
What are the benefits to joining?
Well, first you have access to a great number of services and can put your skills and talents to great use. Some people love the idea of helping others, and participating in a TimeBank provides that. Another great benefit is the opportunity to meet new people in your community. And don’t forget the savings!
What should I do before I trade?
If you are having someone come and do work for you, make sure you give them all the information they need to get the job done in the way you want. Communication with all the details works out best, so you both know any expectations there are. It is your responsibility to provide materials they need to do the job, for example a lawnmower, gasoline, etc if they are mowing your lawn; or cleaning products, cloths, a vacuum cleaner, etc if someone is cleaning for you. However, both parties may be happy to negotiate how any costs associated with a trade can be met.
What if I am trading with someone new?
When trading with another timebank member, it’s up to you to take personal responsibility for your safety. If trading with someone new, you may wish to have a meeting with the person prior to the trade to decide if you feel comfortable trading with them. You can also take someone with you as a support person. We can help you if you haven’t got someone else to support you, just give us a call and we’d be happy to help!
Another way to meet Timebank members prior to trading is to attend the regular timebank get-togethers.
Can I trust the people that may come into my home?
All members of the hOur Community TimeBank have completed the application process. This involves meeting with us, two reference checks called and a criminal background check. However, we don’t exclude people with minor offences. We can recommend that you meet people before you trade if you have concerns about them coming into your house or being around your family members. Please feel free to ask us for additional suggestions. You may also inquire to have another member be there with you at the time of exchange. Our online website software will have a review section for members to leave their comments of exchanging. Which may also be a reassuring way to share our postitive experiences. Another great way to get know the other members in the timebank is to attend the timebank get-together Meet & Greet events.
What happens if I go into “debt”?
The timebank is based on reciprocity – giving and receiving are basic human needs that help build relationships and trust within communities. Going into “debt” carries no penalty but rather is considered a promise to give back when the opportunity arises. We recognize that there will always be participants who will earn more time dollars than others. The option is given for them to donate some of their time dollars to fellow members or to our Community Chest. You can always talk to us about ways of earning time dollars if you are concerned.
How can a business benefit?
There are so many ways – here are a few services you can get:
- Sidewalk snow shoveling
- Event catering
- Transportation for out-of-town associates and/or deliveries
- Professional services (computer, Website, copy writing, accounting, etc.)
- Messaging services
- Administrative help
We know you can’t do all your business through TimeBank exchanges, so if you offer a popular service – like hairstyling, chiropractic and accounting – put a limit on the number of hours you can commit to TimeBanking.
What’s in it for a non-profit?
There are several reasons non-profits join hOur Community TimeBank:
- Community exposure; another way to get your mission out to more people.
- Easy access to volunteers. You can get volunteers for on-going and one-time projects through the TimeBank. The TimeBank members earn Time Dollars when they volunteer for you.
- A positive addition to your network. We will work side-by-side with you to improve our community together.
Can Social Service Agencies use timebanking to deliver services for less?
Certainly they can, and many agencies have found that timebanking does help them reduce costs because their clients become active participants and service providers for one another. But, even more importantly, the reciprocity that is naturally built into every Timebank helps clients to become more engaged in directing and creating positive outcomes for themselves and all the members of the program. This sense of ownership and empowerment is often of far greater value to an agency than delivering services at a lower cost because their clients are creating their own path toward meeting the program’s goals.
Can I be taxed for TimeBank exchanges?
No. The IRS has ruled TimeBank exchanges tax exempt.
(If you’re a business, check with your accountant to confirm your TimeBank exchanges are tax exempt.)
What does it cost?
Our membership fee scale looks like this:
- Individuals: $12 (that’s only a dollar a month)
- Families: $24
- Organizations: $36
- Businesses: $72
Every year we provide a few free memberships for those individuals who cannot afford one. If you are interested in learning more, please contact us!
Can we join as a Individual or as a family?
The choice is yours. If you plan to participate with your family members, then you’ll want to have all family listed on the Application and join as a family. If later you want to separate your accounts, it is simple to transfer hours.