Timebanking is a time-based currency that helps to build circles and network of mutual support. With timebanking, you give one hour of service to another, and receive one time credit. An hour is always an hour — regardless of the service offered. You can use the credits in turn to receive services — or you can donate them to others.
Timebanks are formed when people come together to use time credits to achieve a shared goal. Currently, the most common model of timebanking focuses on community service exchanges that help the most vulnerable and build a strong sense of community. But in some places, people and organizations are approaching timebanking as an opportunity to design targeted uses of timebanking to achieve specific goals.
Timebanks can be local, regional, national or international in scope. They can vary in size from as few as 20 people to tens of thousands. Most (but not all) timebanks use timebanking software, which helps them keep track of member activity. Because timebanks are self-organized, we cannot know precisely how many there are, but in the United States we can guesstimate there are around 500 local and regional timebanks, totaling around 40,000 – 50,000 members.
Who Can Use Timebanking?
That includes individuals, groups, organizations, government agencies, churches, businesses.
That also includes any organization that is helped by volunteers. Volunteers can earn time credits for the help they provide. They receive one credit for each hour of service.
But it is important to remember that in timebanking, both receiving and giving have equal weight. People cannot give if others will not receive – the two are bound up together. And mutual value is found through both.
What Types of Services Can Be Offered?
Timebank networks can be wide open to any kind of service.
Currently, the majority of timebanks use the neighbors-helping-neighbors model, where members are free to choose what services they would like to offer – either to other members or to the community at large — and also what services they will request.
Members may be individuals or organizations.
Services offered and requested vary from timebank to timebank – but there are some consistent favorites. Transportation is one. Minor home repair is another. Computer help is a third.