The Five Core Values of TimeBanking

Edgar Cahn is the founder of modern timebanking. He noticed that successful timebanks almost always work with some specific core values in place. In his book No More Throw-Away People, he listed four values.  Later, he added a fifth. These have come to be widely shared as the five core values of timebanking – and most timebanks strive to follow them. They are a strong starting point for successful timebanking.

  • Asset: Every one of us has something of value to share with someone else.
  • 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.
  • Reciprocity: Helping that works as a two-way street empowers everyone involved – the receiver as well as the giver.
The question: “How can I help you?” needs to change so we ask: “Will you help someone too?” Paying it forward ensures that, together, we help each other build the world we all will live in.
  • Social Networks: Helping each other, we reweave communities of support, strength & trust. Community is built by sinking roots, building trust, creating networks. By using timebanking, we can strengthen and support these activities.
  • Respect: Respect underlies freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and everything we value. Respect supplies the heart and soul of democracy. We strive to respect where people are in the moment, not where we hope they will be at some future point.

Timebanking Basics


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Timebanking is a time-based currency. Give one hour of service to another, and receive one time credit. You can use the credits in turn to receive services — or you can donate them to others.
One Hour = One Credit It helps to remember that the one=one rule is rooted deep in the idea that regardless of whether we value what we do in different ways, we share a fundamental equality as human beings.
A Complementary CurrencyThe focus of Timebanking is on our value as human beings. It seeks to connect us through the relationships we create through giving and receiving. It operates in this way as a complement to the money-dominated world we inhabit.

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