FAQ

What is a Timebank?

Members of a timebank exchange skills, time and knowledge within a community. By both offering and requesting skills we recognise that we all have needs as well as gifts to share.

You earn time credits by doing services for other members.

One hour = one time credit

A timebank account keeps track of your time credits, which you can exchange for services offered by other timebank members.

What is so special about Timebanking?

Timebanks value activities that are not always valued in the formal market economy: caring, learning, imparting values, sharing, socialising, raising children, being a good neighbour, helping others — all contributions that can be made by every human being. As a result timebanks harness the strength of every individual to form strong, resilient and connected communities.

What kinds of people join timebanks?

Everyone can join a timebank and all kinds of people do, from students to retirees to recent immigrants to single parents to professionals.  Kids need their guardian's permission to take part if they are under 16.

What services can I buy with time credits and what can I do to earn time credits?

The possibilities are endless. From walking a neighbour's dog, oiling a squeaky door, raking leaves, stuffing envelopes, braiding hair, cooking meals, giving music lessons, parcel pick up, running errands to lending professional advice, everyone in a timebank has a valuable skill to share.

What if I don't have time?

Many of the services people exchange in a timebank are things they are already doing every day. E.g., those of us who have children are already cooking for them, driving them to activities, and helping them with their schoolwork. Cooking an extra portion of food for someone down the street or walking your neighbour's kids home from practice adds minimal work to your day, and may make an enormous difference to the person being helped.

Even better, you gain extra time because you can spend the credits you've earned getting someone to help you with something for you that you can't fit into your schedule or simply don't know how to do!

Is timebanking like bartering?

It is similar, but the big difference is that you don’t have to make a direct exchange with one person. It is a “pay-it-forward” system. That’s one of the reasons why people find it so much easier to do things for others in a timebanking system. You don’t have to figure out what to give back to the person who helped you. You can choose how to pay it forward doing what you want, when you want.

I am starting up a new non-profit.  Can my group join Timebank?

Yes you can! We have several member organisations who use Timebank to help meet their needs, including Boomerang Bags, The Newtown Tool Library, and Sustainability Trust. Email the Coordinators, and we'll see what we can do to get you going!

Can social service agencies use timebanking to deliver services for less?

Many agencies have found that timebanking does help them reduce costs because their clients become active participants and service providers for one another. But, even more importantly, the reciprocity that is  built into Timebanking helps clients to direct and create positive outcomes for themselves and all the members of the programme. This sense of ownership and empowerment is often of far greater value to an agency than delivering services at a lower cost.

I am anxious about meeting new people.  Can I trust Timebankers?

All members of WTB have completed the application process. This involves meeting with the coordinator, two referee checks and a background police check. However, we don’t exclude people with minor, historic offences, and we encourage all members to take personal responsibility for their safety and wellbeing while trading.

All members of the Timebank agree to follow our Code of Conduct, and the Coordinators are here to help out with organising trades.

Do I have to trade at my house?

Not at all! While some trades are location specific (like gardening help), others can take place in public spaces, like meeting up at a cafe to do some knitting or at the local library for help proofreading a CV.  Additionally, several Community Centres around Wellington offer meeting rooms for time credits, which may help with organizing the trade.

What should I do before I trade?

Talk talk talk! Make sure everyone involved are clear on where the trade will occur, when you will meet up, whether travel time is included in the trade, who will supply materials/cover costs, and how long you expect the trade to take.

What if the trade was only 15 minutes?

Time can be put through in 15 minute increments. You can just round up to the nearest 15 minute, e.g. if a trade takes 1 hour and 10 minutes, record it as 1.25.

What if I trade with more than one person at a time?

If you do a trade that involves multiple people, each member who attends will pay 1 time credit per hour and you will receive credits for any preparation time and the time spent teaching. The excess credits earned go into the Community Chest.

For example, if you organise a dance class for 10 members that takes 2 hours preparation and 1 hour teaching, you will receive 3 time credits and the extra 7 will go into the Community Chest.

What happens if I go into “debt”?

The timebank is based on reciprocity – giving and receiving are basic human needs that help build relationships and trust within communities. Going into “debt” carries no penalty but rather is considered a promise to give back when the opportunity arises. We recognise that there will always be participants who will earn more time credits than others. The option is given for them to donate some of their credits to fellow members or to our Community Chest or “top up” other accounts.

You can always talk to the WTB coordinator about ways of earning credits if you are concerned.

Can goods / tools be traded?

For any trades associated with loaning goods and tools you can claim one hour, regardless of the time the tool is loaned out for. Why is this? Because it can be hard to measure the time impact of not having something available immediately. Some folks may use their tools daily, while others leave them in the garage for months at a time. Rather than get into complex calculations about how much a loaned wrench is worth vs a borrowed sewing machine, it is our policy to round goods and tool trades up to one hour.

If there are any expenses involved in the loaning of goods or tools these should be agreed between the members before the trade takes place.

How can I earn more time credits?

  • Volunteer! (See the list of volunteer roles)
  • Help out at one of the WTB events - bring an item or volunteer to be part of the set up/clean-up crew
  • Host a lunch in your neighbourhood
  • Write in with feedback and stories about your trading experiences and receive 1 credit

What if I move away?  Are there other Timebanks?

Yes!  Timebanking exists all over New Zealand, and in more than 22 countries. you can find information about Timebanks at the links below: