Q: What is Time Banking?
A: Time Banking is a creative local alternative to the monetary system. It allows individuals and organizations to exchange their talents and time without the need for formal currency. Every service is valued in terms of a standard Time Credit, where one whole Time Credit equals one hour of work provided. Time Credits can be partial, and are saved indefinitely and redeemed in the form of services provided by other members of the community.
Edgar Cahn is the founder of modern timebanking. He noticed that successful timebanks almost always work with some specific core values in place. In his book No More Throw-Away People, he listed four values. Later, he added a fifth. These have come to be widely shared as the five core values of timebanking – and most timebanks strive to follow them. They are a strong starting point for successful timebanking:
Asset - Every one of us has something of value to share with someone else.
Redefining Work - There are some forms of work that money will not easily pay for, like building strong families, revitalizing neighborhoods, making democracy work, advancing social justice. Time credits were designed to reward, recognize and honor that work.
Reciprocity - Helping that works as a two-way street empowers everyone involved – the receiver as well as the giver. Paying it forward ensures that, together, we help each other build the world we all will live in.
Building Community - Helping each other, we reweave communities of support, strength & trust. Community is built by sinking roots, building trust, creating networks. By using timebanking, we can strengthen and support these activities.
Respect - Respect underlies freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and everything we value. Respect supplies the heart and soul of democracy. We strive to respect where people are in the moment, not where we hope they will be at some future point.
Q: Who Can Join?
A: Everyone can join, including individuals, groups, neighborhoods, organizations, and companies.The larger the pool of partners and resources, the more possibilities we have as a community. One of the greatest aspects of Time Banking is the opportunity to provide or receive services that are normally difficult to market in a formal monetary system. Everything from mothering advice to a simple ride to the airport becomes a potential service you can offer or redeem with your Time Credits.
Q: What are the Benefits?
A: The Baltimore Time Bank is a community resource. The philosophy behind Time Banking is based on the notion of community sharing and human interaction. An elderly person, who knows how to bake wonderful cakes, can easily connect with a high school student who is willing to do some housework.
Apart from fostering community development, Time Banking allows neighborhoods to become less dependent on national and world economies. Time credits are not affected by inflation rates or world markets, and are always backed by a group of people whom you know and trust.
Where Time Banking Can Take Us...
The only limit is the collective talents of our membership. As numerous individuals, agencies, and organizations join the Time Bank, the opportunities available will multiply. The Baltimore Time Bank is a collective project and everyone is encouraged to share their ideas, skills and time.
Q: Do I have to live in Baltimore to join?
A: This Timebank serves residents of Baltimore City and the surrounding metropolitan area. However, if you have something to offer the Baltimore community, even from a distance, we encourage you to join.
Q: How is everyone's time given the same value?
A: Timebanking is not meant to replace real dollars. At a time of economic uncertainty, however, a program like timebanking remembers community. Timebanking hopes to create a community in solidarity where everyone's time is valued equally regardless of their income or training in certain areas. An electrician’s time is equal to a dog walker’s time because each represents the effort of one human being.
Q: What if I feel like I don't have anything to offer?
A: You would be surprised at how many people share this feeling. We all have something to offer. If you can offer a kind word, you can be on the timebank. If you can make a phone call, you can be on the timebank. If you can drive one person to the store, you have an asset. Furthermore, do you have a hobby? Do you have a passion? If so, you have something to offer. One does not need to be a "professional" to provide services on the timebank.
Q: What if I don't want to offer the skills that I usually get paid for?
A: Even though you get paid to work at your job, you likely have other skills, talents and passions that you may want to share. There are so many ways to exchange Time Credits. You only need to offer things you feel comfortable with. Members who offer professional services on the time bank can offer a split between paid labor and time credit.
Q: Who pays for material costs in an exchange?
A: The receiver of the exchange pays for all materials used by the provider, if there are materials. It is important that this is discussed before the transaction takes place. For example, Marshella installed a smart thermostat but an additional wire was needed from the hardware store, so she was reimbursed a few dollars for the wire by the homeowner who had made the timebank request.
Q: Can a member combine cash and Time Credit fees for services?
A: There may be occasions where the request is time consuming or requires technical skills. For example, Anne asks Paul for help painting her living room which takes about four hours. Anne gives two hours of time credit and pays Paul two hours of time. These arrangements would happen between the time bank members.
Q: What if I don't have time to join a timebank?
A: None of us want to add one more thing to our busy lives. The beauty of timebanking is that it will free you up to do the things you enjoy doing! You might ask yourself, what is it that you are doing that makes you so busy? Is it possible that another member of the community could help you with your least favorite tasks? In addition, many of the services people exchange in a timebank 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 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?
Q: What are Time Credits?
A: Time Credits represent the amount of time one Timebank member has spent helping other members. When you spend an hour helping another Timebank member, one Time Credit gets added to your account and subtracted from the account of the member who received your service. You can record half- and quarter-hours too.
Q: Who records the Time Credits?
A: Either member can record the exchange. Just agree before or after the transaction on the amount of time exchanged. Each member will receive an email notification of the transaction.
Q: How many dollars is a Time Credit worth? Does a timebank hour have a monetary value?
A: No, a Time Credit never has a monetary value. Time Credits just track services people provide for each other.
Q: Can I sell goods/products on the timebank?
A: This is not preferred. The goal of the timebank is to exchange services but there are times when someone is giving something away, like a bumper crop of tomatoes. The exchange would be for the gardener’s time to deliver the other time bank member the tomatoes.
Q: Are Time Credits taxable?
A: No. Timebank hours have been ruled tax exempt by the IRS because an hour is always valued at one hour. There is no legal responsibility on anyone's part to redeem a Time Credit, it is considered a "non-commercial agreement" and the purpose of Time Credits is charitable.
Q: Are there units smaller than one hour, or one timebank hour?
A: Yes, you can record units as small as 1/4 Time Credit or 1/4 hour. And we always round up to the quarter-hour!
Q: What happens if a time banker's Time Credit account goes negative?
A: LetsBMore honors those with needs equally as those who give. By giving time credits, a member is contributing to the community as much as someone who is receiving. We encourage reciprocity and a balance of giving and receiving. We also know that some people give a lot more than they ask for and vice versa. Time credit balances are only seen by you and the coordinators so rest assured, no one cares (or knows) if you only have requests. For those who are still uneasy about a balance, either in the positive or negative, LetsBMore created the “Baltimore Solidarity Fund.” Members who do not wish to carry a “positive” balance can attribute their time credits to Baltimore Solidarity for use by members who haven’t accrued time credits.
Q: What's to keep a member from being dishonest with their Time Credits?
A: LetsBMore Coordinators are made aware of all transactions. While it seems unfathomable that our neighbors would attempt to take advantage, it would be nearly impossible as both the giver and the receiver agree to hours exchanged, and are notified of the transaction credits.
Q: What if a member does a service that I am not happy with?
A: It is important that you let your coordinators know if this happens. We have a log and will handle complaints if necessary. Similarly, if a member is not respectful, on time, or unreachable, we need to know. These matters are handled respectfully and privately. Ultimately, an exchange is between the two members, and the timebank does not have legal responsibility or liability.
Q: Do I have to have a computer to be in LetsBMore?
A: No, you do not. LetsBMore will pair you up with another member who can help you record your hours online by proxy, known as “Guardianship Mode”. In addition, when you write your offer or request, you can state that the member who wishes to exchange with you will call you on the telephone or text instead of emailing. We suggest, however, that a routine check of the website be done in order to stay in touch with recent offers and requests that are posted. Many public libraries offer free computer use.
Q: What about liability?
A: Being in a timebank is no different than helping your neighbor. Every member in the timebank assumes all responsibility for their exchanges just as you would treat a friend or a neighbor. Although homeowners insurance protects members, many timebanks have volunteer liability insurance to cover problems that can occur during a service exchange. However, in the decades that timebanking has been around, no claims have ever been filed against it. Timebanking is based on trust and reciprocity. Screening calls are carried out for each new member and there is no anonymity in the system. These are strong deterrents to misuse.
Q: What about safety?
A: LetsBMore conducts a brief interview with all applicants. Not everyone is guaranteed a timebank membership, but the timebank strives to accommodate as many people with as many different backgrounds and skills as possible. That being said, members are advised to conduct their own background checks and/or referrals.
Q: Can a group, organization or merchant join?
A: Absolutely. LetsBMore is more than just an individual exchange system. The TimeBank strives to work with churches, schools, libraries, youth groups, neighborhood groups, outreach programs, agricultural projects, municipalities and local merchants (to name a few!). These would be considered Hubs.
Q: I already volunteer in my community. Why would I want to get Time Credits for that?
A: First of all, thank you for helping in your community. Earning Time Credits for your work helps the entire community even more. Let's talk about reciprocity! When you receive time credits and give them to someone else, they can use the credits for services they need, such as tutoring their kids, a ride to a doctor’s appointment, help making dinner or assembling a tricky piece of furniture.
Q: I am already a member of LetsBMore. Do I have to record my hours?
A: For the good of the community, please promptly record your exchanges. Don’t shortchange yourself! In order for our timebank to succeed, we need to have every exchange logged. Otherwise, how will other members know they are part of an active community and feel comfortable making a request or an offer? Log that exchange and let your community know they are part of something that’s really getting used.
Q: Does it cost to join?
A: There is no cost to become a member of the LetsBMore Timebank. We accept donations to cover the cost of running the website and other organizational expenses.
Q: How do I join?
A: Go to our website at http://letsbmore.timebanks.org and click on “Join” in the upper left corner. A coordinator will contact you to complete a screening call and answer any other questions.
Q: How do I confirm my email address and receive LetsBMore emails?
A: Look for an email from firstname.lastname@example.org and subject: Verify your...." in your inbox, alternate inbox, or spam folder or try searching your emails for all or part of 'email@example.com" to confirm. If you still have troubles, contact us via "How to Connect," below.
How To Connect: