What is a TimeBank?

TimeBank members earn credits by providing services and spend credits by receiving help from others. We all have things we're very good at. And we all need others' expertise at times.

One hour of service always earns one credit, regardless of the nature of that service. This is one of the greatest appeals of a TimeBanks. Everyone's time is equal.

Why do communities adopt TimeBanks?


  • connect people to each other, building community resilience
  • value all people's time equally
  • make it easier for people to ask for and to give help

The conceptual founder of TimeBanks, Edgar Cahn, identifies five core values embedded within TimeBanking:

  1. Asset: Every one of us has something of value to share with someone else.
  2. Redefining Work: There are some forms of work that money will not easily pay for, like building strong families, revitalizing neighborhoods, making democracy work, advancing social justice. Time credits were designed to reward, recognize and honor that work.
  3. Reciprocity: Helping that works as a two-way street empowers everyone involved – the receiver as well as the giver. Paying it forward ensures that, together, we help each other build the world we all will live in.
  4. Social Networks: Helping each other, we reweave communities of support, strength & trust.
  5. Respect: We strive to respect where people are in the moment, not where we hope they will be at some future point.

TimeBanks build mutually supportive social networks by respecting the value of each person's contributions. If your community is concerned about people who feel socially disconnected, isolated, marginalised, underemployed, or devalued, TimeBanks might be the right tool.

How does a TimeBank work?

TimeBanks are membership-based. To participate, people sign up and start trading hours. Many timebanks require orientations, references and police clearances to protect the safety of participants.

TimeBanks use dedicated social media that enable people to offer their services, request help, and record trades.

Many TimeBanks allow community organisations to become members.

Tax exemption requirements

TimeBanking is tax-exempt, however a current IRD requirement for retaining the exempt status is for TimeBank members to offer only services other than those that are part of their money-paid work.

For this and other reasons, TimeBanking works at its best within a wider reciprocal credit economy. For example, time credit is generally not sufficient payment for a coordinator.

Where can I go to learn more?

Living Economies Educational Trust (LE) promotes exchange systems and investment models that build community strength and well-being, offer interest-free alternatives to 'business as usual', and respect both people and our living planet. Our network of volunteers can recommend resources and provide educational support for community initiatives. LE (CC 38114) is a registered educational charity, and we do not provide financial or legal advice.

© 2018 Living Economies