Time Banking

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"Time banking is a values-based mechanism for reciprocal service-exchange that focuses on the contributions everyone can make to meeting needs within a local community. The value of all services in time banking is equal. The unit of exchange and account is simply the hours spent giving or receiving service. Time banks can provide for many individual and community needs to be met without recourse to money, markets or state welfare arrangements. Through the exchange mechanism time banks also build social relationships and networks that strengthen communities and they provide individuals with opportunities to work, develop, and achieve recognition and reward for contributions made. Since time banks are largely independent of mainstream systems, they are less vulnerable to volatility in these, such as price inflation, financial crisis, recession or austerity. This gives time banking its potential to be a dependable complementary source of economic and social wellbeing and security. From roots in Japan and the US, time banking has spread to all continents. This case study explores the transnational time banking network organization, hOurworld, and local manifestations of time banking in the UK and Spain." (http://www.transitsocialinnovation.eu/resource-hub/time-banks)


"Time banks, a mechanism that relies on mutual collaboration to promote sustainability and cohesiveness in communities, can leverage the use of new communication tools to lead deprived communities towards prosperity and heal the gaping omissions in public services.

Time banks effectively use people’s time and talents as currency for exchanges of value. It's been effectively used across the world to tackle explicit local issues, such as childcare provision or urban regeneration. It's also been used to reach those from socially excluded groups who have unmet needs, such as minority groups, single parents, and the unemployed. Time banks have been successful in delivering small but important local results because they excel at building networks of reciprocal social relations, trust, civic participation and community solidarity.

Time banks rely on directories of activities and participants to track the variety and availability of services offered. Often, knowing in advance when we will have free time to spare is difficult to anticipate.

Time banks have traditionally focused on involving participants from marginalized communities to help themselves. Today, with an online community eager to get involved, and with the emergence of tools that facilitate collaboration, time banks shouldn’t limit their sourcing to local resources, but instead take advantage of the "global brain" (in projects that would benefit from this type of input) to solve community problems and improve social cohesiveness. Time banks complemented by effective communication tools offer a great model to bridge local community participation with external resources, creating strong local communities that branch outward." (http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/007147.html)

2. Ivan Tsikota:

"Just like LETS or barter networks, time banks are bookkeeping systems in the first place, where time is used as a complementary currency. Naughton-Doe (2011) states that they are: “a community currency with an explicit social objective to grow social capital and combat social exclusion”. Time banks took off in 1986 in the United States with the initiative of Edgar S. Cahn, who aimed at addressing social issues and problems (Greco, 2001). By 2000, there were 300 time banks in the world (Lietaer, 2001). In 2007, there were 55 time banks in the United States; the United Kingdom had 84 active initiatives and 41 were in development (Collom, 2008).

In Sweden, time banking started in 2007 with the introduction of the TidsNätverket i Bergsjön 7initiative. People taking part in a time bank get a certain amount of credits for their work (usually, health-care, education, housekeeping etc.) and can later exchange them for the services of other people. Some systems, e.g. Time Bank Athens, incorporate a demurrage option - credits expire after six months (Sotiropoulou, 2001). Generally, membership consists of socially excluded groups of people: unemployed, poor, retired etc. (Seyfang, 2004). A major difference from LETS is the focus of time banks on services and social orientation (Seyfang, 2002). Naughton-Doe (2011) distinguishes two types of time banking models: person-to-person, and person-to-agency. In the former case services are provided by citizens in an hour-for-hour exchange.

with the help of a broker. In the latter, contracts are signed with local community organizations. An example of the person-to-person approach is the Ithaca Hours system, which was established in 1991 and quickly spread all over the United States (Collom, 2008). Person-to-agency systems can be represented by Time Banking Wales: within this approach, the focus is put on engaging with existing civil society organizations.: (Thesis: Increasing Local Economic Sustainability)


  • Time banks are now operating in over 300 communities in 22 countries [1]



"Probably the largest time exchange in the world is the Furai Kippu in Japan. Fureai Kippu (“Caring Relationship Tickets”) was created in 1995 to help families who had migrated to other parts of Japan care for their elder family members that they became separated from. Seniors can help each other and earn the hour credits, family members can earn credits and transfer them to their parents who live elsewhere, or users may keep credits for when they become sick or elderly themselves." (http://shareable.net/blog/how-to-exchange-time)

2. Marie Goodwin:

"At the core of our gift economy focus is a timebank. Timebank Media was created by our TTI to bring more people into Transition through the use of an alternative currency. Timebanking has done more than just that, however. It supports volunteerism in all the on-going projects in which Transition is engaged. It helps to reduce burn-out among the Steering Committee and other volunteers by providing a way for them to get their needs met in areas outside of Transition.

For example, when my family suffered a health-care crisis, with winter looming, dozens of timebankers came to my house to stack the eight cords of wood my family needed put away before winter. All of my committee-earned hours helped me and my family in a very tangible, important way. Timebanking also creates a small, stable, but necessary, flow of dollars (through membership fees) to pay for things like fliers and film-rental fees, web-hosting and office supplies. These are real costs with which every TTI has had to contend.

With two-hundred members, Timebank Media has in its three years helped to create a web of support under our community and a tangible honoring of all the work done by so many, work that is largely invisible in the traditional economy. As one of our members, Donna Cusano, relates: “Little did I know that this simple act of exchanging my time for “Time Dollars” would provide a life-affirming shift.”

Timebanking necessitates an hour-to-hour exchange that excludes most “things.” Sadly, however, there are lots of people who need things...and lots of people with extra things. Transition Town Media has created several different initiatives to solve those problem in addition to the FreeMarket mentioned above." (http://www.transitionnetwork.org/blogs/rob-hopkins/2014-04/impact-weve-having-marie-goodwin-transition-town-media)

More Information

  1. Overview article, at http://shareable.net/blog/how-to-exchange-time
  2. Time Dollars, see also at http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?id=895
  3. Details on the Time Dollars organization at Time Banks
  4. Very clear video explanation by the founder of Time Banks: Edgar Cahn on Time Banking [2]

Case Study

  • Weaver, P.; Dumitru, A.; Lema-Blanco, A. and García-Mira, R. (2015) Transformative social innovation narrative : Timebanking. TRANSIT: EU SSH.2013.3.2-1 Grant agreement no: 613169 [3]

"Time banking is deliberately intended to achieve transformational objectives. Through service exchanges time banks translate time banking values of cooperation, reciprocity, equality, abundance, self-worth and self-reliance into the relationships they build. These are opposites to those of competition, exploitation, scarcity-value and dependence, which are stressed and institutionalized by the market and by state welfare systems and, sometimes, are societally destructive. Time banking is thus seen by its proponents to be a mechanism for practicing and embedding personally- and community-constructive sets of counter-values."