Frequently Asked Questions
If you don't find the answer to your question below, please contact us using our contact form!
Do I have to be a member of the UU Church of the North Hills to participate? Is this group only for church members?
No! Membership is open to all. While the Barn Raisers was started by a core group of people who are members of UUCNH, the idea was always to make Barn Raisers a community wide group. Currenly about 70% of our members are also members of UUCNH and about 30% are not. If you are excited and enthusiastic about time banking like we are, we welcome you to join!
This Sounds Great, But I Don’t Live in the North Hills.
Currently the bulk of our members live in the North Hills area, but that doesn’t mean that our time bank won’t work for you. We do have members in Pittsburgh’s East End, Oakmont, and Greenfield, and the only way the time bank can grow in your area is if YOU participate! Do you have a community group or a group of neighbors or friends who would benefit from time banking? Introduce the concept to them and soon you may have many time bankers close by with whom you can do exchanges! Also note that not all services people offer need to be done in person, and that many of us actually don’t mind crossing bridges or driving through tunnels. In short,the larger the time bank becomes, the more services and areas it will cover, and that will benefit everyone! So we encourage you to think ahead a bit and consider being a time bank pioneer in your own neighborhood.
What can I do to earn Time Dollars?
The list of possibilities is endless. From walking a neighbor's dog, oiling a squeaky door, raking leaves, stuffing envelopes, braiding hair, cooking meals, giving music lessons, running errands to lending professional advice, everyone in the time bank has a valuable skill to share. Even if you fear you have nothing to contribute, we assure you that simply isn’t the case! We also try to create group projects, work parties, and other community events that you can participate in to earn time dollars. Also you will earn a time dollar for each monthly meeting you attend.
What services can I buy with Time Dollars ?
Barn Raisers currently includes people offering many different wonderful skills including massage therapy, personal shopping, computer repair and training, private tutoring, pet sitting, child care, transportation and truck and van services, business consulting, and more.
What if I don't have time for volunteering? Isn't this just one more thing that's going to eat up my extra time?
Not unless you want to give extra time! Many of the services people exchange in a Time Bank are the types of things they are already doing every day. For example, those of us who have children are already cooking for them, driving them to activities, and helping them with their schoolwork—among other things. Cooking an extra portion of food for someone down the street who is housebound, picking up your neighbor's kids on the way to soccer practice, or helping the child down the street with his homework don't add work to your day. Or, if you have a dog and take it for a walk every day, why not pick up your neighbor's dog along the way?
For professionals like doctors, lawyers and business people, Time Banking is a way to give back to your community without having to go someplace else on someone else's schedule. For example, you can just set aside 10% of your appointment calendar for Time Bank members. Even better, Time Banking helps you gain extra time because down the road, you can spend the Time Dollars you've earned and have someone else do something for you that you can't fit into your schedule or simply don't know how to do!
How exactly does it work?
When you spend an hour to do something for another Barn Raisers individual or group, you earn a Time Dollar. Then you can use that Time Dollar to buy an hour of another member’s time or skills.
Why is everyone's time given the same value?
At first glance, it seems crazy that someone is paid the same for web design and pulling weeds, but this turns out to be the core of what makes Time Dollars really work. In the “Yin” or “caring economy,” everyone’s time is valued equally – just like it is inside a family. You wouldn't ask your cousin to give you two hours of dog walking for every hour you spend fixing his computer.
Putting a price on people's time separates us by making some people more valuable than others. Time Dollars excel in building relationships because they place an equal value on everyone’s time.
Time Dollars aren’t meant to replace standard dollars. They are designed to counterbalance the market economy where people may have invested in special training to make their time more valuable. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just taken over too much of our experience of the world.
Isn't Time Banking like bartering?
It is, in a way, but the big difference is that you don’t have to pay back the person who does you a favor. It is a “pay-it-forward” system. That’s one of the reasons why people find it so much easier to do things for others in a Time Banking system. You don’t have to figure out what to give back to the person who helped you. You can choose how to pay it forward doing what you want, when you want.
Can you buy or sell things with Time Dollars?
Yes, and Barn Raisers follows a simple formula for selling things. You charge for the hours it takes to produce something in Time Dollars, and either donate the materials free of charge, or charge the cost of the materials in regular dollars. (This is called a “mixed currency transaction” and if you choose to transact partially in US currency, that portion of the transaction is subject to PA laws.)
The important thing to remember, however, is that in order to prevent Time Dollars from being taxed as income, you can never make an equivalency between a Time Dollar and regular dollar.
Who runs the Time Bank?
Barn Raisers currently has three coordinators, who help set up exchanges and run the day-to-day business of administering the Time Bank. Decisions about the time bank are reached cooperatively and democratically.
How do people connect to each other?
People either connect to each other during our monthly potluck meetings; online via our Time Banks web software, Yahoo Group, or Facebook page; or through a coordinator. You can post a request for services online or call a coordinator to ask them to make a match for you.
How do you keep track of the exchanges?
There are two ways to keep track of the exchanges. Either visit our time bank exchange website, where we maintain an easy to use software program that keeps track of all exchanges and time dollars, or call one of the coordinators and ask them to assist you in recording your time bank exchange.
How many people are in the Time Bank?
Barn Raisers currenly has approximately 45-50 members.
What kinds of people join Time Banks?
Everyone can join a Time Bank and all kinds of people do.
Can I trust the people in a Time Bank to come into my home?
First of all, nobody is ever obligated to agree to an exchange for any reason. If you feel uncomfortable having people you don’t know well come into your home, then you should not arrange that type of an exchange. We do have monthly potluck meetings that are informal and a great way to get to know some of your fellow time bankers a little better. If you are interested in doing an exchange with someone but feel a bit uncertain, feel free to ask them for references from other Time Bank members, or ask one of the coordinators to help you out - time banking is about community building as much as anything else, and community building means meeting new people!
What if someone falsely bills me?
Time Banks are built on mutual respect and trust and this type of thing is very rare. In fact, we can't recall a single incident except when someone has made a mistake and debited the wrong member's account. If you think that that someone has falsely billed you for services, all you have to do is call your Coordinator who will straighten things out.
Can people cheat?Theoretically, it is possible that someone could cheat, but, again, we can't remember anyone doing it. Whether your Time Bank uses the web software or a Coordinator to keep track of the exchanges, whenever one person earns Time Dollars, there is a corresponding debit for the same amount in someone else's account. This makes it pretty easy to know if someone is cheating or not. No one is anonymous in a Time Bank, so people don't cheat.
What happens if you go into debt?
Having a negative balance is not a big deal in a Time Dollar account. After all, people have to receive in order for others to give. Barn Raisers has an established rule that any member can go up to 5 time dollars into debt. Once your account becomes 5 time dollars in debt, you will need to earn some more time dollars to spend!
For members in need, we have arranged Time Dollar funds contributed by individual members that are set aside for community projects or to help out members who are going through a difficult period.