Time Banking – Project in Need of Project Leader

There’s some local interest in starting up a time bank for people to exchange services with each other outside the formal economy. Kent Becker has put together some basic information about time banks, summarized below.

If readers are interested in taking it the next step, someone needs to step up to lead the project.

How does it work?

  1. People list the skills and experience which they can offer and those that they may need.
  2. Everyone’s skills are valued equally – one hour always equals one time credit.
  3. Everyone agrees to both give and to receive help, to earn and to spend their time credits.
  4. A record is kept of all the time credits earned and spent, ideally on computer using the ‘Time Online’ system.
  5. Everyone is encouraged to spend their time credits to allow others the chance to make a difference and feel needed.

Legal pieces?

This would need more research, but time banks are not like barter. According to the FAQ page at the Hour Exchange in Portland Maine:

Barter is trading, based on cash value, between two people. We are a non-profit 501(c)3 service exchange organization. Our currency is based on time, with no relation to market value and it is not a direct trade between two people. If an Hour Exchange member gives an hour of their time they can receive an hour of anyone else’s time within the Hour Exchange member community. And unlike barter the IRS has determined that exchanging time is tax free!

The strategic plan for TimeBanksUSA mentions the “capacity to deal with legal issues related to Time Banking such as liability, trademark issues and tax exemption.”

However, it seems that most TimeBanks really don’t worry about carrying insurance unless they have a formal organization, for example, if they are part of a nonprofit agency, or become a formal organization themselves. Here is the link to the post about not worrying about carrying insurance (Yahoo sign-in required.)

Also,  Antitrust laws are not applicable to labor organizations:

The labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce. Nothing contained in the antitrust laws shall be construed to forbid the existence and operation of labor, agricultural, or horticultural organizations, instituted for the purposes of mutual help, and not having capital stock or conducted for profit, or to forbid or restrain individual members of such organizations from lawfully carrying out the legitimate objects thereof; nor shall such organizations, or the members thereof, be held or construed to be illegal combinations or conspiracies in restraint of trade, under the antitrust laws.

How do you start and what are the key organizing roles? Source: timebanking.org.uk

  1. Attracting and signing up new members
  2. Looking after people and nurturing relationships
  3. Build your reputation
  4. Information and Technology
  5. Partners and projects
  6. Sustainability
  7. Managing media interest and interviews

How many people do you need to start? Source: timebanking.org.uk

At least six people willing to spend four or five hours a month on the project. Each of them will need to agree to:

  1. give it their best shot for at least 12 months
  2. meet up regularly with the team
  3. do all they can to attract new members
  4. share all they learn with new members
  5. be paid in time credits for each hour they contribute
  6. lead by example and spend their time credits
  7. walk the talk when it comes to the time banking values
  8. take on one or more of the key organizing roles…

Funding pieces?

I found many ideas on fund raising on the timebanking forum on Yahoo. Partnership with a community group seems to be a source that is mentioned often on the boards I’ve read. The group could also join Time Bank USA, which has many resources and also has software to keep track of necessary things for the local time bank. Annual membership dues for TBUSA range from $25 to $900, depending on the number of members in the time bank.

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