What is a Timebank?
Members of a timebank exchange skills, time and knowledge within a community. By both offering and requesting skills we recognise that we all have needs as well as gifts to share.
You earn time credits by doing services for other members.
One hour = one time credit
A bank account keeps track of your time credits which you can exchange for services offered by other timebank members.
Time credits 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 neighbourhoods 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, socialising, raising children, being a good neighbour, 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 neighbours, 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.
What kinds of people join timebanks?
Everyone can join a timebank and all kinds of people do.
What services can I buy with time credits and what can I do to earn time credits?
The possibilities are endless. From walking a neighbour's dog, oiling a squeaky door, raking leaves, 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.
What if I don't have time?
Many of the services people exchange in a timebank are things they are already doing every day. E.g., 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 neighbour'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 neighbour'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 credits 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.
Can we join as a couple or as a family?
Yes you can. The choice is yours. If later down the track you want separate your accounts it is simple to transfer hours.
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 programme. 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 trust the people to come into my home?
All members of WTB have completed the application process. This involves meeting with the coordinator, two referee checks and a background police check. However, we don’t exclude people with minor, historic offences.
We recommend that you organise to meet people before you trade if you have concerns about them coming into your house or being around your family members.
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 take someone with you as a support person. The coordinator can help you if you haven’t got someone else to support you.
Another way to meet Timebank members prior to trading is to attend the regular timebank get-togethers.
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. It is your responsibility to provide materials they need to do the job, e.g. a lawnmower, petrol, etc if they are mowing your lawns; 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 the trade was only 15 minutes?
Time can be put through in 15 minute increments. You can just round up to the nearest 15 minute, e.g. if a trade takes 1 hour and 10 minutes, record it as 1.25.
What if I trade with more than one person at a time?
If you do a trade that involves multiple people each member who attends will pay 1 time credit per hour and you will receive credits for any preparation time and the time spent teaching. The excess credits earned go into the Community Chest.
For example, if you organise a dance class for 10 members that takes 2 hours preparation and 1 hour teaching, you will receive 3 time credits and the extra 7 will go into the Community Chest.
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 recognise that there will always be participants who will earn more time credits than others. The option is given for them to donate some of their credits to fellow members or to our Community Chest or “top up” other accounts.
You can always talk to the WTB coordinator about ways of earning credits if you are concerned.
Can goods / tools be traded?
Wouldn't it be great to have a Community Tool Box? You can with Timebanking. For any trades associated with loaning goods and tools you can claim one hour, regardless of the time the tool is loaned out for. Why is this? Because you are not actually giving of your time, you are loaning a tool. The only time you are giving is the time taken to actually organise the loan of these tools. Sometimes this can be 5 - 10 mins, sometimes 30 mins. Therefore, it is our policy to round goods and tool trades up to one hour.
If there are any expenses involved in the loaning of goods or tools these should be agreed between the members before the trade takes place.
How can I earn more time credits?
- Volunteer! (See the list of volunteer roles)
- Help out at one of the WTB events - bring an item or volunteer to be part of the set up/clean-up crew
- Host a lunch in your neighbourhood
- Write in with feedback and stories about your trading experiences and receive 1 credit