As family budgets get cut to the bone, an increasing number of people are trading a more meaningful commodity than money. Here's how the growing trend of time banking is helping folks in and around Brattleboro, Vt., become stronger and closer.
TIME IS MONEY
• Do Your Research
Locate existing groups at timebanks.org, which has a map of networks across the United States. To start a time bank of your own, consult the website's manual or the one at hourworld.org. Both sites also offer training at a cost.
• Gather a Group
Start small by getting at least 10 people to commit, ideally ones with distinct skill sets and interests. From there you can gradually grow your base through word of mouth. Bear in mind that larger numbers require more coordination and oversight.
• Talk Tech
There is time bank—specific software that sets up an intranet where members post and answer requests. You can get a free version at hourworld.org.
• Appoint an Administrator
Most successful time banks pay a coordinator to take care of administrative duties and offset the cost by registering for nonprofit status so they can raise funds. If there is no budget available, consider paying an administrator with time-trade hours.
• Encourage Involvement
The sooner members trade, the more likely they are to stick with it. Set a goal for members to use or give a service within the first two weeks of operation. From there, consider organizing monthly potlucks. Regular gatherings create a sense of community, and they help people develop connections that inspire them to trade.
TRADE FAIR WITH A LITTLE COMMON SENSE
• Be specific and detailed. If materials are involved in a request or offer, establish who will provide them.
• Respect the rules. Be punctual, of course, and don't ask for more than is offered or give less than what is expected.
• Take note. When setting up terms, it helps for both parties to put their agreement in writing to avoid misunderstandings.