Friends help each other out with projects and tasks of all kinds. We babysit for each other; we plan projects together; we hem pants and curtains; we build sheds and cut firewood together. Often these exchanges of help are between two individuals or a small circle of friends. As one HELP member put it, “Time bank trading is just like what we do with our friends, but it expands the circle.”
Time Bank exchanges tend to spiral through the community of its members. A circular path of exchanges often makes better use of the resources we all bring to the community.
Hour Exchange La Plata is joined with some 465 similar time banking groups around the world through an organization called hOurworld.org. A software program called “Time and Talents,” which was written by Stephen Beckett, a founding member of hOurworld, serves as the platform for our HELP transactions.
Using the Time and Talents software you are able to:
- Indicate the services you want to provide to other members.
- Indicate the services you are interested in receiving.
- Learn what services other members are offering and requesting.
- Ask for help and the community is informed. Specific requests are automatically published in a regular weekly email to all members.
- Keep track of transactions yourself. When a trade happens, one of the parties involved reports the hours in the Time and Talents software. The hours are then transferred from the receiver’s account to the provider’s account — just like a regular checking account.
- Check your account history and current balance at any time.
Accounts may be opened for an individual who is at least 18 years of age, a family, or a small business. When an account is opened and an account holder attends an orientation, the account receives two hours with which to begin trading, regardless of how many people are included in that account.
Time banking is legal and tax-free. A time bank is NOT a system of barter. Barter assigns comparative value to items and services and is potentially subject to taxation. Time is our medium of exchange. During the time that we trade with each other we freely share our labor, knowledge and skills. Because we are trading only hours there is nothing to tax.
All the local time banks associated with hOurworld request a monetary annual donation from each account. In our case, the requested annual donation is $25.00. HELP is a new organization and is actively seeking new members. The money that we collect in annual donations is used for marketing. HELP administrators are paid for their services in hours.