With membership on the rise and awareness in the community about how valuable and rewarding a timebank is, March seemed like a good time to answer the most frequently asked questions about our timebank community. There are 24 questions here. If you answer most of them correctly, you would be considered an expert timebanker! Take the challenge and then please forward this newsletter to your friends, neighbors and family! Happy timebanking!
Q: Do I have to live in Kent to join?
A: No, you can even live in a different county but spend enough time in Kent and the surrounding towns to earn and spend Time Credits here. If you live far from other members your exchanges might start slowly. But we are adding new members all the time. Perhaps you can help AND earn Time Credits by hosting a house party to recruit your neighbors! With the birth of the Crooked River Alliance of Timebanks, we now have "hubs" that are forming. As of November, 2014, we have Twinsburg, Ravenna, Kent and Stark County. All of these "sub timebanks" are in one big timebank called Crooked River Alliance of TimeBanks.
Q: How is everyone's time given the same value?
A: At first glance, it seems crazy that the physician's time is equal to the dog walker's time but that is exactly what is at the core of timebanking. 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 "caring community" where everyone's time is valued equally. Timebanking becomes the extended family that members choose to honor and respect equally, regardless of their income or training in certain areas.
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 Time Bank.
Q: What if I don't want to offer the skills that I have to do everyday?
A: Even though you are probably a great worker in your day job, my guess is that you have other skills, talents and passions that you might be willing to share. There are literally thousands of ways to earn Time Credits in the TimeBank. You might also consider sharing your profession only on a limited basis.
Q. Who pays for material costs in an exchange?
A. Great question! 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, if I give Kristina a ride to the Cleveland airport, she pays me 1.5 Time Credits and about $6 in gas money.
Q. Can a member combine cash and Time Credit fees for services?
A. Absolutely! As long as that member is clear when he or she writes their ads on the software. While you can't give a cash value to the Time Credits, you can easily split the fees. For example, if I estimate it will take me 4 hours to paint your livingroom, I might charge you 2 hours cash for my labor PLUS 2 Time Credits. What's nice about this, is that maybe your neighbor will notice my great painting skills and want to hire me for a cash job. This has happened. We are actually creating jobs.
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 (we used to call them Time Dollars)?
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. Time Credits can be exchanged at the one Time Credit per hour rate for anything being offered by someone in the network, provided the person is willing and available.
Q. Who records the Time Credits?
A. Either member can record the exchange. Just agree before or after the transaction. 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 (and sometimes goods) people provide for each other.
Q. So, I can sell goods/products on the timebank?
A. You can exchange goods and products that are not handmade on the timebank. We ask that you don't use the language "buy, sell or purchase" because we are always careful not to put a monetary amount (in U.S. currency) on the time credit. This is done by offering your goods or products for a donation. Someone might donate their time credits to you in order to acquire that item. Goods and products that are handmade can be "sold" for time credits as you would estimate the amount of time it took you to make the item and you can also include material or ingredient costs if applicable.
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 Dollar or 1/4 hour. And we always round up!
Q: What happens when a timebanker's Time Credit account goes in the negative?
A: Crooked River Alliance of TimeBanks honors those with needs just as we honor those who give. By receiving Time Credits, a member is contributing to the entire system of exchange equally as much as a member who earns a lot of Time Credits. It always works out with timebanking. For those who still have a hard time feeling unrest with a negative balance, other members often donate Time Credits to those who need them. In addition, your Timebank account can only be seen by you and your coordinators. We want you to use the timebank. We challenge you to go in the negative! ;)
Q: What's to keep a member from being dishonest with their Time Credits?
A: CRAT has 10 Coordinators, all of whom are made aware of every single transaction that takes place. While it seems unfathomable that our neighbors would attempt to take advantage, it would be nearly impossible as both the giver and the receiver are notified of the transaction as well.
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. When we have 1000 members on, however, you'll find yourself "shopping" on the timebank and small problems will get naturally weeded out.
Q: Do I have to have a computer to be in the Crooked River Alliance of TimeBanks?
A: No, you do not. KCTB will pair you up with another member who can help you record your hours online. In addition, when you write your offer or request, you can state that the member who wishes to exchange with you call you on the telephone instead of emailing. We suggest, however, that a routine check of the software be done in order to stay in touch with recent offers and requests that are posted. We have several places where free computer use is available.
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. Background checks are carried out for each new member and there is no anonymity in the system; all strong deterrents to misuse.
Q: What about safety?
A: CRAT conducts a "lite" background search on all applicants. Individuals with criminal records are not excluded. But, depending on the offense and recommendations of supervisors, they may be limited to certain types of participation such as group events and supervised activities. Not everyone is guaranteed a timebank membership, but the timebank strives to accommodate as many people with as many different backgrounds as possible. That being said, members are urged to conduct their own background checks and/or referrals when applicable.
Q: Can a group, organization or merchant join?
A: Absolutely. CRAT is more than just an individual exchange system. Kent Community TimeBank strives to work with churches, schools, libraries, youth groups, neighborhood groups, outreach programs, agricultural projects, municipalities and local merchants (to name a few!). There are several distinctions in applying that can be discussed with a CRAT representative.
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. Getting "paid" Time Credits for your work actually helps the entire community even more. Let's talk reciprocity! Your earning (and spending) Time Credits might help someone else who is fighing poverty or just wants to give their kids something they might not otherwise be able to provide. Like horse lessons! And, did you know, that even if the group you are volunteering for is not on the timebank, any of the sub timebanks will pay you Time Credits for your time? Email Abby or Kristina to find out more!
Q. I am already a member of CRAT. Do I have to record my hours?
A. Because our timebank is relatively new, it is imperative that you record ALL of your Time Credits and exchanges. And don't skimp yourself! In order for our timebank to succeed, we need the data to show that we are doing it! So, if you haven't been recording those potluck dishes or Acme receipts, get in there and do it!
Q: Does it cost to join?
A: Joining CRAT is free.
Q: How do I join?
A: Go to our website at http://crookedriver.timebanks.org and click on the "Create An Account" tab. A representative will contact you upon receipt of the online application.
Q: Is there a user guide?
A: Yes! We have a manual, Using the Kent Community TimeBank Software, that will guide you through the many features of our software. You may access the manual on our facebook page under the files tabm and look for: Manual (pdf).
Q. How do I "pay" myself for things like filling out my profile, bringing a dish to a potluck, writing my first service ad, etc.?
A. Whichever hub you belong to (for example, Kent Community TimeBank), you go to that profile (Kent Community TimeBank) and scroll through their requests. All of the requests above are listed there. Each timebank hub has it's own account. If you brought a dish to the Stark County Potluck, you would record your time credit through their profile page.