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In the TimeBank model we set aside traditional business accounting about going "into the red."

Yes, an organization can accrue hours by offering what they have available, say a meeting hall. Let's say the YWCA will earn X number of hours by letting community members hold meetings in their meeting hall once a month. There's an arbitrary negotiated agreement between the two groups; if the Y agrees that when they hold, say a 4-hour meeting , they are given 4 or 8 hour-credits, then the Y account will go into the positive and of course, the respective community member will have those hour-credits subtracted from their account.


The Y can now use those hour-credits to make exchanges, but the exact numbers don't matter because it's perfectly fine if the Y goes into the red. They will have to go into the red at times if they have a lot of volunteers, and that's okay. This is about fostering exchanges!

So, here's the difference between this approach and banking. When we, TimeBanks, do our end-of-the-year reports, we will be interested in the frequency of transfers, the total numbers of hours exchanged, rather than worrying about whether or not the transfers end up being + or - the way regular banks do. Our goal is to encourage more transactions, more exchanges--it's to expand (and document) the total number of hours volunteered (If we make + and - balance out, the total would be zero, right?).

The other thing is that if we follow the five values of co-production, we are relating to people on their positive side, on how they can contribute. We recognize both partners as contributing positively to the relationship. Even going into the red is a way to contribute to the community. One of the ways individuals can contribute is to go into the red so that somebody else, who does the work, can get recognition for their hours. We focus on the positive aspects and tally them up.

We know, wild, right?


Given our history, our culture, virtually all non-profits like the Y have managed to survive by taking advantage of people's goodness to help them do their work, and we can help shift that to more equal partnerships with volunteers--by using authentic TimeBanking co-production.


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