So, a couple of months ago, I went into hOurworld to renew a member by deducting 8 TimeCredits from their account and I couldn’t find the button for doing that. As I’ll explain later in this article, that led to significant changes in the way TimeBank Boulder (TBB) handles new and renewing members, but first…

Here are five new policies that were adopted by the TBB board of directors at the Sept. 14 board meeting. Following each new policy are some of the rationales for that change.

TBB does not require a cash fee to join

1. Requiring a cash fee to join TBB almost certainly inhibited some potential members from joining, probably because, among other things: a) requiring a payment made them suspicious of our timebank’s motives for wanting more members, and, b) they didn’t want to deal with the hassle of making a payment.

2. Not requiring a fee to join makes the process of onboarding new members much easier.

3. TBB should be able to raise funds by encouraging members to make voluntary donations to our timebank, with reminders on the anniversary of their joining.

4. This change will almost certainly increase the number of members in TBB which should increase the amount donated to TBB on a regular basis.

TBB does not require or expect current members to pay a monetary fee or TimeCredits on the anniversary of their joining

1. Requiring a cash fee or loss of TimeCredits almost certainly inhibited some current members from renewing their membership because they didn’t want to deal with the hassle of making a payment and/or because they weren’t sure it was worth it to them.

2. Not requiring a fee or TimeCredits to renew makes the process of renewing members much easier.

3. TimeBank Boulder should be able to raise funds by encouraging members to make voluntary donations to the timebank.

4. TimeBank Boulder does not need to get TimeCredits from members to stay solvent.

TBB does not deduct 2 TimeCredits from members’ accounts on the anniversary of their joining

1. Deducting 2 TimeCredits from members’ accounts on the anniversary of their joining likely discouraged members from renewing and, for those who did renew, less likely to make exchanges.

TBB now awards members 3 TimeCredits on the anniversary of joining

1. Awarding 3 TimeCredits to members when they renew likely incentivizes them to exchange more.
2. TimeBank Boulder does not need to get TimeCredits from members to stay solvent and can afford to award the

3 TimeCredits to members annually.

TBB automatically continues the membership of each member each year. Members will only be deactivated if a member requests deactivation or if the board of directors determines that a member is detrimental to TBB

1. It greatly reduces the administrative burden for a TimeBank Boulder committee member to not have to receive communication from members that they want to continue their membership.

2. There is no administrative cost to renewing a member who isn’t active in TimeBank Boulder.

Back to how this all came about. When I wasn’t able to renew a member with TimeCredits, I contacted Stephen Beckett. Stephen founded and maintains the hOurworld international website which we use to operate TimeBank Boulder for free. hOurworld hosts almost 400 timebanks serving over 35,000 members with over 3 million hours exchanged.

Stephen advised me that he had updated default settings for all timebanks in hOurworld to reflect changes made in his timebank in Maine which mirror the changes we just made in our timebank. He explained that his timebank and many other timebanks had been experiencing significant declines in their membership and the amount of activity (exchanges), and many of them had ‘managed’ their timebanks into oblivion.

TimeBank Boulder has been experiencing a decline in membership and activity over the last twelve or so years and our recently-adopted policy changes are designed to help reverse those declines.

The board spent a lot of time considering these changes. There was extensive discussion at our August 10th board meeting, then an extensive exchange of thoughts via email, and finally extensive discussion at the Sept. 14th meeting. The consensus was that what we’ve been doing hasn’t worked to enable TimeBank Boulder to grow and be the more vibrant sharing community that we think it can and should be. The board implemented the changes with the understanding that the board will monitor indicators like the number of exchanges and members and the status of our finances to determine if these changes should remain in effect. We will be stressing the importance of 1) voluntary monetary donations from members to TimeBank Boulder to cover expenses, and 2) reducing expenses.

After posting an announcement on hOurworld about these changes, the only feedback I’ve received so far has been positive:

1. “Thanks to you and Board of TBB – Just read your list of TBB board decisions and am pleased and grateful for those decisions to support membership in those ways. Thanks”

2. “They are big changes to how the organization is run, but it seems like existing members will probably take them in stride. Hopefully, the changes will have the intended result of additional new members!”

3. “I really like policy changes! Thanks for all your work.” 4. “Wow big changes!! Seems positive Yay”
5. “It all sounds good to me”

In particular, I look forward to publicizing TimeBank Boulder as an organization with no membership fees and no necessity for the exchange of money in the exchange of services. And I really like that there’s a significantly reduced burden on TimeBank Boulder members who are involved with onboarding new members and maintaining the memberships of existing members.

I’m excited about the future of TimeBank Boulder with these new policies. I’d be happy to provide further information to any members who request it about the rationales for and implications of, these changes and, we would appreciate any thoughts you have for ensuring the continued and increased success of TimeBank Boulder as we move forward with these changes.