hOurworld®️ Answers - FAQ!
hOurworld®️ is an International Network of Timebanks


an international network
of neighbors helping neighbors


• 35,597 members • 386 communities • 3,150,468 hours service received!

Frequently Asked Questions About Time Banking

There many kinds of service exchanges operating all around the world. The majority are not known as time banks. Many opt not to use that language because of the association with the cash economy and "banking". As you know we cannot legally mix the two currencies. (Timebanking transactions are not taxable, they are "the provision of friendly neighborly favors for nothing in return".) So names like Time Share, Hour Exchange, Time Trade, Service Exchange, and others are more common, although the movement itself is commonly referred to as Time Banking.

NO! Barter is based on the cash economy and is a one for one relationship. Example: A plumber and carpenter agree to each provide $1000 worth of work on each other's homes. That's the cash world where something is given for something in return. In the Exchange Economy services are based on TIME, not cash. Each service hour is valued the same and they are exchanged within a network. The lawyer's hours of service have the same value as the janitor's hours of service. We are equal in our capacity to provide and receive!

The IRS has viewed time banking as "the provision of friendly neighborly favors" in exchange for nothing. Members are, in effect, simply tracking their volunteering. There are no contracts. No binding agreements. Only a moral obligation to reciprocity to the community. See the USA Tax Ruling for the language to describe TimeBanking: https://hourworld.org/pdf/IRS_Rulings.pdf and why it is not taxable.

There will always be the normal curve of users: A few that only provide and can't find their way to receive at one end, a few that only take and are unable or unwilling to give, and the rest of us in the middle who understand reciprocity. Let us teach those at the edges then, how to receive, or how to give and not think in terms of hoarding or taking advantage. Member policies around this are created and managed by each local time bank.

How can you trust anyone? Get to know them, just as you would with any other relationship. People are people whether they are in the time exchange or not. There are many features built into the software that allow you to assess the appropriateness of engaging with another member. You can see how long they have been a member, how many transactions they've had with how many different members, how many 'likes' they have and so on.

Find someone that provides that service and ask them to join the time bank! (That's how our whole health care provider office joined!) This will enrich yavailable services for everyone in your exchange, as well as the new providers themselves!

What would you do if you paid cash for that haircut? Same thing. Talk to the provider. Express your opinion, work out a solution. Treat the situation the same as you would in the cash economy.

Of course. Providing and receiving services is wonderful because it presents an opportunity to step away from the hierarchy of classist thinking. The hour of garden work I did for the doctor has the same value as the doctor's hour appointment with an elderly member. We are each offering something of value to the other person so we are valued equally.

No, you don't. However, we strongly urge you to plan for that position right from the start. In the forty years since this movement began we've learned that exchanges that do not have at least one part time paid coordinator usually fail. Exchanging is about RELATIONSHIPS among people. The Coordinator is key to organizing gatherings, events, stories and helpng to build communication among members.

No. Why should it be? It's a complementary currency. Many businesses see the value in becoming exchange members. They get amazing marketing benefits, loyal customers and can save cash dollars in starting or supporting their operations. We're not competing, we're cooperating!

You betcha! In most cases businesses and non-profit organizations are in a great position to offer and provide services. This is a great way to increase your membership too. Business and organization employees may all join and operate on behalf of their parent, and/or on behalf of themselves!

You can do either, but we recommend you find a non-profit, church or library that can give you access to space you may use as an office and/or a meeting space. You'll be easy to find and will start off with a "presence" in your community that can help with marketing.

Yep. So after you've formed your core group (see First Steps To Starting An Exchange) You just have to commit to being part of this creative economy. And once you've come to appreciate community currency, you'll be part of the change we all want to see in the world (Gandhi). Or, as the Hopi Prophesy says, "We are the ones we've been waiting for."

Hour Exchange Portland, a 500 member excange, has a half dozen people who sit on the board, help run orientations and events. Some are mentors and check in with new members to see if they have any questions about getting started. There are ebuddies who help those who are not tech savvy or don't have access to a computer. Some helpers do data entry and help process new applications. There is a bookkeeper who works with the treasurer. It's good to eventually have a Board of Directors or a Kitchen Cabinet with a treasurer, a lawyer who can look at legal issues and paperwork, and people good at outreach, fundraising, and event planning.

The 80-20 rule maintains that 80% of outcomes (outputs) come from 20% of causes (inputs).

In time banking this means that 80% of your activity for any time period will come from 20% or your members. This is an import concept to understand! Some administrators will continuously work to deactivate “inactive” accounts from that 80%. Doing so leaves an organization with an even smaller number of active accounts, of which 20% is an even smaller number. We have seen more than one time bank manage its way into oblivion following this practice.

Being a member of a time bank is like having insurance with a special benefit. As a member I am insured, because if ever I broke a leg, the time bank would be there to get me to the doctors or bring me meals and what have you. Conversely, I am an insurer of my community! If ever there were a disaster of any kind, time bank members like myself can instantly become an active force to provide for the needs of the greater community. We are already in network.

You don't cancel your insurance because you've not had any claims. Your silent time bank members are a powerful latent force that may be drawn to the fore by the circumstances of those in need. We can't ever assume what may or may not stimulate a member to action. So please, don't deactivate my account just because I haven't participated in awhile.

"We don't need another movement. We need to move together!"