Who can join?

Anyone who lives, works or plays in Silver Spring.  Membership is open to people of all ages (under 18 with authorization of a parent/guardian), abilities and backgrounds.  

What services can I get?

Silver Spring Timebank’s (SSTB) services are as varied as the interests and skills of our members.  Current member services include home repairs, computer help, gardening, cooking photography, pet care, sewing, accounting, language lessons, transportation, bike repair…and the list keeps growing as more members join. 

I like the idea of timebanking, but what if I don’t think I have any skills or services to offer?

One reason we ask members to attend an orientation is so they can brainstorm possible services with others. You can look at the list of available offers on the website which might inspire you or you can check the requests and say “I can do that!”. Our membership team is always available for support.  And, you can build hours in your account by helping any one of the SSTB’s Leaderships Teams.  

How can I make time for timebanking?

Timebanking is not just something to do when you have free time, but something that frees up time for you, giving you more time to do the things you enjoy.  You should make offers to do things that you love to do or are already doing.  Helping others with the services you enjoy doing takes some time AND it gives you time to receive services you need from others (saving you time). 

Is timebanking like bartering?

No, bartering is trading, based on cash value, between two people.  Tiimebanking is based on time, with no relation to market value and it is not a direct trade between two people.  If a SSTB member gives an hour of their time they can receive an hour of anyone else’s time within the SSTB.  Unlike barter, the IRS has determined that exchanging time is non-taxable.  For more information, see http://timebanks.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/What-about-taxes_-Edgar-Cahn.pdf 

I own a business, why should I get involved?

The SSTB offers a unique way for organizational members to promote their services, receive services as needed, and support the timebank along the way.  Organizations can offer introductory offers to promote their services.  Organizations can receive SSTB member services such as computer and marketing assistance.  And organizations can offer support to help grow the timebank, by providing space for orientations or printing promotional materials.  

How do I track my hours?

You can search for services and log your exchange hours online using the hOurworld software. Using the software is easy and directions are offered in the orientation.  All new members receive a check-in call for initial support from the membership team.  And we also have e-buddies to help members who do not use computers or who struggle navigating the software.  For further questions, contact silverspringtimebank@gmail.com.

Who records the hours for the exchange?

Members who provide the services are responsible for recording the exchange. 

What if I post a request for a service and I don’t get any responses?

The hOurworld system doesn't send new offers and requests to other members' email immediately.  If members don't log in to the timebank, they will only see new postings in the weekly (Monday) email.  Sometimes you just need to be patient, but here are some things you can try:  Use keywords (e.g., cookies, repair, or knitting) in your request that would show up in a search by members who do log in.   Also try your own search:  When you put a keyword in the search box near the top of the page, the search will return offers, requests, and member bios.  First, check the offers.  Second, if you find a member's bio that lists skills you're requesting, send an email.  (They may be happy to do an exchange, even if they didn't post that skill as an offer.)  You could also ask your Member Mentor to read over the text of your request -- it may just need re-wording to be more effective.  Your mentor may have other suggestions as well (see FAQ below for more info on this).  It is also possible that there is no one in our timebank who has the skills you're requesting or the time to take on the task.  That's always disappointing, but it can inspire members to recruit new people to join the timebank.  In fact, if you wind up having to hire a plumber because no one in the timebank can fix your sink, tell the plumber about the benefits of belonging to the timebank!  You are always welcome to print our flyers and hand them out:  http://www.sstimebank.org/ flyers/

What if I email a specific member regarding an offer or request and I don’t hear anything back?

Try sending another email (typos are possible).  If you don’t get a response within 48 hours, notify the SSTB so we can investigate.  We will find out what the barrier was and get back to you.

Can I run a deficit of timebank hours?

Yes you can.  If you have not built up enough hours to receive a service, you can go into debt.  The SSTB has a policy of limiting timebank “overdrafts” of hours to 10 hours.  When you’ve built up a debt, that is the time to start making offers to earn hours.  You can also help any of the SSTB leadership teams as a way to earn hours.

Do I include my travel time when recording hours?  Can I get reimbursed for gas when offering transportation?  When doing a cooking exchange, do I buy the ingredients?

It’s important to negotiate all exchanges before they happen.  If you live fairly far from the person you’re offering a service to, you want to discuss travel time as part of the exchange.  If offering a ride to the airport, you can ask for gas money or another half-hour to an hour of time instead.  With a cooking exchange, talk first about who will purchase the ingredients.  The key is negotiating the details of the exchange BEFORE it happens.

Can I keep my contact information private?

Yes, it’s possible.  When you set up your profile you can select what you want to share and what you don’t want to share.  We do require a valid email address (which need not be shown) so that exchanges can be made.  The SSTB will never share your membership information for marketing outside of the timebank messages to members.  

Do I always need to record the hours I provide?  I’ve already got a lot of surplus hours.

We ask that you always record your hours because it shows that the timebank is active and growing.  If you have lots of saved hours, consider donating some to a member in need.  Contact the SSTB for suggestions on how to do so.  

Why is the default distance for exchanges set at 25 miles?

We currently have members in Rockville, Gaithersburg and even Germantown, not to mention the many zip codes of Silver Spring, so we want to include all of them.  You can change your distance setting if you wish to focus nearer to your home base.  

I still have questions.  Where can I get help?

We have a membership team made up of experienced timebankers - Member Mentors - who are available to help new members, and established members, too.  They can help you navigate the hOurworld system or brainstorm ideas for offers and requests.  They can also answer questions that come up once you start exchanging services with other members.  Whatever your concern, a Member Mentor can help, or can get you connected to the support you need.  Each new member is assigned a Mentor by the membership team and can expect to hear from that Mentor by email within approximately one month after joining.  You can chat with your Mentor by phone, by email, or in person.  You can also find help on specific topics through our Tutorials and Resources pages as well as elsewhere on this FAQ page:

What if there’s a problem or a disagreement with an exchange?  

See “Secrets for Successful Exchanging” for tips, including negotiating all exchanges BEFORE they happen.  While we have not had any problems with exchanges so far, if you have a difficulty that you wish to raise to the SSTB leadership team, please send us an email so someone can contact you for guidance.