Good Neighbors Time Bank FAQ
Q: Which counties does the Good Neighbors Time Bank support?
A: The GNTB covers Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties in Pennsylvania.
Q: How is everyone's time given the same value?
A: At first glance, it seems crazy that a physician's time is equal to a dog walker's time but that is exactly what is at the core of time banking. Time banking is not meant to replace real dollars. At a time of economic uncertainty, however, a program like time banking remembers community. Time banking hopes to create a "caring community" where everyone's time is valued equally. Time banking 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 in the Time Bank.
Q: What if I don't want to offer the skills that I have to do every day?
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 dollars in the Time Bank. You might also consider sharing your profession only on a limited basis.
- Who pays for material costs in an exchange?
- 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 dollars and about $6 in gas money.
- Can a member combine cash and time dollar fees for services?
- 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 dollars, you can easily split the fees. For example, if I estimate it will take me 4 hours to paint your living room, 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 are time dollars?
A: Time dollars represent the amount of time one time bank member has spent helping other members. When you spend an hour helping another time bank member, one time dollar 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.
- Who records the time dollars?
- 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 dollar worth? Does a timebank hour have a monetary value?
A: No, a time dollar never has a monetary value. Time dollars just track services (and sometimes goods) people provide for each other.
- So, I can sell goods/products on the timebank?
- 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 dollar. 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 dollars taxable?
A: No. Time bank 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 dollar, it is considered a "non-commercial agreement" and is considered a “free moral deed”.
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 time banker's account goes in the negative?
A: The Good Neighbors Time Bank honors those with needs just as we honor those who give. By receiving time dollars, a member is contributing to the entire system of exchange equally as much as a member who earns a lot of time dollars. It always works out with time banking. For those who still have a hard time feeling unrest with a negative balance, other members often donate time dollars to those who need them. In addition, your time bank account can only be seen by you and our coordinator and the project leader. 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: In the GNTB the coordinator and project leader are made aware of every single exchange that takes place. While it seems unlikely 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.
- What if a member does a service that I am not happy with?
- It is important that you let your coordinators know if this happens. Similarly, if a member is not respectful, on time, or unreachable, we need to know. These matters are handled respectfully and privately.
Q: Do I have to have a computer to be in the Good Neighbors Time Bank
A: No, you do not. There are lots of ways around this. You could use computers at the local library. If this won’t work for you, you can be paired with another time bank member who will assist you to stay up to date with the time bank news, requests, offers etc and will assist you in recording exchanges.
Q: What about liability?
A: Being in a time bank is no different than helping your neighbor. Every member in the time bank assumes all responsibility for their exchanges just as you would treat a friend or a neighbor. However, in the decades that time banking has been around, no claims have ever been filed against it. Time banking is based on trust and reciprocity.
Q: What about safety?
A: GNTB asks that every applicant provide legal ID and disclose any felony convictions or guilty pleas. If you wish to make a request for child care or other highly sensitive services the time bank can assist potential members who would fulfill this service request with getting a background check completed. Please discuss this with the coordinator if the need arises.
Q: Does it cost to join?
A: There is an annual membership fee. Individuals are $25 Families are $50 and Organizations are on a sliding scale beginning at $75. If this fee is a financial burden, we understand. Please discuss this with our coordination staff and we can work out a plan where you can volunteer to assist the time bank in lieu of payment.
Q: How do I join?
A: Go to our website at www.goodneighborstb.timebanks.org and click on Getting Started with your Time Bank. Next click on JOIN in blue and follow the directions. Feel free to contact our coordinator for assistance. You can also complete these steps at one of our monthly orientations.