1. What exactly is a time bank? It’s a community system in which an individual volunteers an hour of time to help someone else in exchange for an hour of credit. That person can use the credit to receive help from someone else. Everyone’s hours are equal, no matter how the time is spent.
2. What are the core values of time banking, and where did they come from?
The first time bank was started by a group of women in Saint Louis at Grace Hill Settlement. They coined the four original core values — equality, redefining work, assets, and reciprocity. Dr. Edgar Cahn, who coined the phrases Timebank and Time Dollar, added the fifth — respect. Here’s a thorough overview.
- Equality: Everyone has something to contribute, everyone has value, and everyone’s time is equal. No one is above another, and no one is a burden. We are all givers and receivers, teachers and students.
- Redefining Work: Our notion of work must be expanded beyond employment and redefined to include everything it takes to sustain families, neighborhoods, and communities. We value the work it takes to make healthy children, a healthy community, and a sustainable future. Meaningful work is joyful, and we should spend all the time we can doing what we love.
- Assets: Together, people have all the knowledge and all the resources. The key is connecting people so everyone can contribute their talents – what they can do, what they know, and what they care about.
- Reciprocity: Helping works best as a two-way street. It is a gift to be able to help someone, and we should not rob others of giving that gift by saying there is nothing anyone can do for us. There is no shame in asking for help, only an opportunity for someone else to give.
- Respect: Everyone matters. We must respect where people are at the moment, not where we think they should be or hope they will be at some future point.
3. What are some of the benefits of time banking? The benefits proliferate as we draw on our unique gifts. Every hour counts! Here are a few big ways that TrustWorks benefits the community through your exchanges:
- Builds trusting relationships
- Greater access to goods and services
- Employment references
- Stronger informal support systems
- Increased self-esteem/confidence
- Greater participation in community events
- Diminished loneliness
- Accept help with dignity – knowing you’ll help others in return
- Building social capital and safety in neighborhoods
4. How does a time bank fit into the community? Exchanges happen between neighbors like me and you, small groups and clubs, larger groups and organizations (including nonprofits and churches), merchants and local businesses, and educational institutions.
5. How does hOurworld work? hOurworld tracks your hours and provides space for members to make exchanges. It also lets you endorse a member, donate hours to nonprofits, and learn more about members. Logon here, and start learning! Or download the app to add your hours using your phone.
6. What are a member’s rights? As a member of the TrustWorks timebank, you have:
- The right to be valued for service to the network and community.
- The right to personal development and lifelong learning.
- The right to confidentiality.
- The right not to be discriminated against on the basis of age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.
7. What are our responsibilities?
- Participation is important! We ask our members to do a minimum of 6 hours of exchange per year. It is important to enter your hours as you earn them. Members who do not exchange will be made inactive until they are ready to participate in the program again. Reactivating is as simple as calling the office to let us know.
- Maintain an accurate account. Check your balance periodically and make sure all your exchanges have been recorded. Exchanges are recorded by the member who provided the service (in other words, the member who is earning hours).
- Maintain current contact information. Inform the TrustWorks coordinator about changes in your status. Updated profiles are imperative for effectively facilitating exchanges; we don’t want to refer anyone to an inactive member!
- Remember, members can be dismissed for unacceptable conduct. Any serious concerns should be brought to the attention of the TrustWorks coordinator.
- TrustWorks does not do any background checks on members. If desired, background checks are the responsibility of the member. As an organization, TrustWorks does not conduct background checks for several reasons: they provide only a snapshot in time, they do not include information about rehabilitative efforts, and to conduct them at a level beyond what anyone can do for themselves would be cost prohibitive. If you are interested in doing your own background check, please visit the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access System at https://wcca.wicourts.gov/index.xsl and Family Watchdog at http://www.familywatchdog.us/. If you have any questions about this, please contact your coordinator and they can help you.
- Be courteous! Give a 24-hour cancellation notice and a 48-hour response time when possible.
8. How do I make my exchanges a success?
- You do not need to earn before you start exchanging. Each new member receives two hours of credit just for signing up!
- Don’t be afraid of “debt”. When people earn those hours, they can then spend them on something else, and then those people can spend their hours on something else, and on and on. So every time you spend hours, you are creating a flow of currency that benefits the entire time bank.
- Receiving is just as important as giving. If you can’t think of anything you need or want, try reframing the request as an offer to someone else. Think about how you can offer an opportunity for another member to earn some hours. What can you do with another member so they can have a job/earn hours?
- Spend your hours! If one is only earning time, and not spending time, then there is no flow… no current. It’s important to both earn and spend Time. That’s why we call it CURRENCY.
- Be social and build relationships. People are more likely to exchange with members they have met. Matches are often made at our events. The monthly TrustMusters are a good way to meet your fellow members and find out what they need and can offer.
- Recruit everyone you know. Consider how you regularly spend money and envision a different kind of Exchange. Tell your friends and see how you can integrate TrustWorks into your life.
- Only offer services that you actually want to provide. TrustWorks provides a great way to spend more time doing what you love. Use the hours you earn to get those nagging tasks out of the way to free up your time.
- Remember that the Time Bank cannot replace the market economy and is not meant to meet all of your needs. Please be flexible with your community.
Get to know the Time and Talents software. It’s a great tool!
- Communicate clearly within the Exchange. Be sure to communicate your needs, wants, and preferences. The more we know about you, the more we can sing your praises to other members.
- Be sure to negotiate the terms of the exchange beforehand. Be clear about your skill level and the amount of time it will take. Clear communication is key! Sometimes, members want their travel time to be included in the service exchange. This is up to you to negotiate, and it’s best to do so BEFORE you provide the service. Sometimes, materials will be needed for an exchange such as cooking or yard work. Discuss who will provide those materials.
Remember, exchanges are not guaranteed. We are a network of neighbors helping neighbors. It is up to the members to judge who they would like to exchange with and to ask questions about licensing, liability, and insurance, if need be. It is perfectly ok to ask for this information BEFORE the exchange happens.
If you want more information, email us–and happy time banking!