Welcome to a new kind of community where we exchange time — not cash!
Time is our currency. Our members swap skills and knowledge for credits called TimeDollars.
We trade these credits for services in our community.
Everyone’s time is valued equally, regardless of what skills are exchanged.
TimeBank Boulder is part of the hOurworld.org network, connecting over 383 timebanks.
Every individual has valuable skills, talents, and knowledge to share.
In January 2003, our founder, Octavia Allis, stood in the lobby of the Boulder Food Co-op asking all who entered, “Would you like to learn about TimeBanking?” She explained that TimeBanking members help each other in exchange for time and took their initial contribution right on the spot. At that time, we were called “SkillShare.”
Within a couple of months she had over 100 members, a bank account, and tremendous enthusiasm for the task ahead. Octavia recruited a Board of Directors and a Kitchen Cabinet, obtained a nonprofit designation in Colorado, drafted bylaws and other documents, and the organization moved ahead. What she didn’t do was apply for an IRS nonprofit 501(c)(3) designation.
Progress proceeded slowly. In 2003, TimeBanking was done on the phone via Octavia, “the matchmaker,” and the results were called in or mailed to her. Around 2005, things speeded up when SkillShare began using the new internet-based software program, provided by TimeBanksUSA, to manage all the TimeBanking business online.
After about three years of tireless effort, Octavia felt that she was doing most of the work and not getting the support she needed from the members and the Board of Directors. She was also going to move out of state. It appeared that SkillShare could not continue without her, so she suggested that SkillShare fold and its members join another local TimeBank called the Time Exchange Network or TEN. The Board refused to abandon ship and decided to continue on without her. Around 2007, TEN, which had 120 members, a $20,000 yearly budget, and a 501(c)(3) status designated to their work serving the elderly, decided they couldn’t continue because they couldn’t obtain any more grants. They proposed that SkillShare accept their members and take over their (c)(3) designation.
So, SkillShare’s Board of Directors filed the paperwork necessary to absorb TEN into SkillShare and accepted about 20 of their members. Sadly, it became apparent after it was too late to reverse course that, in order to access their (c)(3) designation, SkillShare should have been absorbed into TEN, not the other way around. As the five year deadline for obtaining our own 501(c)(3) approached, we applied but were denied because we defined SkillShare as a circle of members helping each other. Sadly, we didn’t realize that 501(c)(3) was only for charities, which are defined as a staff providing services for a particular group. Charities are not reciprocal. TimeBanking is reciprocal. That’s the big difference. But the IRS agent said, “not to worry, SkillShare can be a 501(c)(4) nonprofit.” A (c)(4) would lump us in with political organizations, but as the agent explained, it’s either a (c)(4) or a for-profit corporation that will have to file an annual tax return and pay back taxes on all past income. As far as we can tell, SkillShare is the only (c)(4) TimeBank in existence. What this meant is that contributions were not tax deductible. So SkillShare has been funded by its members’ annual contributions. We have no paid staff and all the work to run the organization is done by members donating their time in exchange for TimeDollars. With no money to pay a staff, you would be forgiven for thinking we have a struggling TimeBank. Well, we do struggle sometimes.
But consider the fact that SkillShare had only 50 members when Octavia left and five or six years later we had grown to 230 members, mainly thanks to the hard work of board member, Laura Denman McCall, who recruited and organized (and designed our two-hands logo and the green and orange color scheme), and the tireless dedication of board member , treasurer, and prime coordinator Howard Lambert, who handled the recording of every exchange, managed the finances, resolved disputes between members, and so much more.
In 2013, then president Lisa Napell Dicksteen, working with the president of the Time Bank of the Rockies, a 501(c)(3) designated TimeBank in Montrose, Colorado, created a memorandum of understanding, signed by representatives of both boards, creating a fiscal agency relationship for the purpose of giving SkillShare access to the 501 (c)(3) status held by Time Bank of the Rockies so SkillShare would finally be able to offer tax deductible receipts for large donations. Basically, the checks go to them, they take five percent for “processing,” and cut us a check for the rest. And the donor gets a tax deduction for their contribution.
That same year, SkillShare switched from the TimeBanking umbrella, TimeBanksUSA to hOurworld. It was a complex move, but it was worth the many hours the Board put into making and executing the decision. SkillShare is now one of hundreds of hOurworld TimeBanks throughout the world – and there is no annual fee for our membership.
In addition to the thousands of hours of member -to-member exchanges each year, SkillShare pays TimeDollars to members who volunteer their time to local nonprofits. And we are constantly innovating. We have had several membership sales events at which members displayed their offerings and gave short presentations, a health fair that spotlighted the healing skills of many of our members, demonstrations at several Hill Flea Markets, a community yard sale, movie nights, a Spanish Practice group, and countless potlucks. Members of our board and speakers committee have spoken about TimeBanking at events organized by other groups, and for many years we have also had an information table at the Boulder Farmer’s Market.
In 2017, keeping up with current trends so that people could find us easily through the internet, we changed our name to “TimeBank Boulder,” created this new website, and strengthened our leadership team. We are poised to expand and become a meaningful part of the Front Range Colorado Economy.
As a successful TimeBank, it behooves us to help other TimeBanks get started. We have provided guidance to help start several in Colorado, namely Time Bank of the Rockies and the Aurora Time Bank. SkillShare is a unique and well-developed TimeBank, with 13 years of experience and a lot of great members. We are proud of our history and are looking forward to a wonderful future.