• Noel Williams

How to Start a Timebank


If you know about existing timebanks and how they benefit society, you might feel compelled to start a timebank of your own. While this is a great idea, it is not one to take lightly, as there are many challenges to overcome before a timebank can exist.

With the help of the California Federation of Timebanks and Timebanks USA, we formulated a few steps that outline what is needed to establish a timebank. Of course, every community is unique and these steps may need to be altered slightly to best suit your interests and needs.


Start a Timebank by Establishing a Mission


To start a timebank, the first thing needed is a mission, or what your timebank desires to achieve. This sounds like a daunting idea to pin down, but its best to try and keep things simple. First, think about what you bring to the table and what you can contribute. Then, connect with likeminded individuals who share your same passion, or share an interest in developing a timebank.

While establishing a mission, you should also think about the types of people to recruit to join your timebank. If your mission is to beautify an area or neighborhood, you can seek people with the knowledge and resources required to do things like landscaping and painting. If you are struggling with your prospective mission, it is encouraged that you reach out to an existing timebank. Most often, existing timebanks will lend a bit of knowledge to those who desire to start a timebank.


Forming a Group and Choosing Software


You can start a timebank alone, but this is an undertaking more easily accomplished with the help of others. For this reason, it is recommended that you form a board of sorts. By choosing a few trusted individuals you can brainstorm what will be needed to get things off the ground. At this juncture, it’s wise to establish an operating budget as well as a projected start date.

An operating budget is necessary because you need to choose a software application to support your timebank, its members, and the transactions that take place. Unfortunately these platforms are not free. In our previous blog post, we made mention of Community Weaver, a platform offered by Timebanks USA. Another great option is Nomos, a smartphone app and web-based platform that will take a lot of the heavy lifting off your hands. Nomos is a one-stop shop for all things timebanking, including how to start a timebank of your own. There will be other costs, too, including those associated with renting a meeting place or purchasing supplies for projects.

In addition to tasking individuals with specific assignments and creating an operating budget, you must also draft rules and procedures. From there, you can use Facebook and other social media platforms to recruit members. As far as recruitment is concerned, reaching out to other timebanks for advice can go a long way. After all, following in the footsteps of successful timebanks is a surefire way to ensure that your organization becomes sustainable.


Creating Orientation Materials and Holding Your First Meeting


Upon establishing a board, the next most logical step is to hold your first meeting. Before doing this, it is important to create orientation material. An example of member orientation material as provided by Timebanks USA can be found here. In addition to orientation, you can use the first meeting as a time to establish the regularity of meetings, what some first projects might be, or anything else relevant to taking the timebank from an on-paper idea to in-person action.

Once a member base is established and the timebanking software is up and running, the rest is up to you. What’s more, it is important to remember that an in-person meeting place is not always a necessity right away. Especially in light of the global pandemic still unfolding, virtual meetings can be as fruitful as those held in a meeting hall.

The above sections offer some insight into how to start a timebank, but things may not happen overnight. Especially in areas where the concept of timebanking is a new or unfamiliar one, you must be prepared to explain what timebanking is and how it benefits all those that take part, as well as those that do not. In many cases, timebanking will appeal to people in the same way the volunteering at a homeless shelter or picking up litter on the highway would, it might just take a little bit of educating.

How to Create a Timebank

To create a timebank, there are a few simple steps that must first be completed. Before doing anything else, you must establish a mission for your timebank, or what it sets out to do. Furthermore, build the personnel and technological bases needed to get your timebank up and running. A breakdown of five simple steps required to create a timebank are as follows:

  • Establish a clear and well-defined mission

  • Recruit members

  • Choose the appropriate software platform

  • Orientate new members

  • Hold initial meetings


Sources:

  1. Nine steps to creating your time bank blog post by California federation of Time Banks

  2. Start a New TimeBank blog post by Timebank.org

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