Legal, Financial, Social and Governance Issues for Timebanks
Policy creation, organizational governance, pondering legal status for an organization, or creating member handbooks are not usually in the first thoughts of someone starting a timebank, but as a timebank grows and gains more members, many of these issues come up!
By the way, if you’re willing to share documents about your timebank, or write articles and give your experiences and detailed opinions relating to these subjects, please see below about how you can help build the Timebank Knowledge Commons, thanks!
Legal Issues, Taxes & Liability
Liability – A great resource for understanding liability in a timebank is the TBUSA risk and liability handbook (tb-kc). It goes into ways to reduce your risk, and different types of insurance that are used in Timebanks.
Taxes – Timebank exchanges have been ruled by the IRS as being vastly different from a barter exchange (which is taxable) and therefore timebank exchanges are not taxable in the way it is understood today. Legal Basics for Timebanks and Barter Exchanges (tb-kc) from the Sustainable Economic Law Center is a good resource to understanding various tax issues about time banking, as well as their article Legal guide for Bartering, Giving and Getting Stuff Without Dollars (tb-kc)
Legal Entity of a Timebank – Some Timebanks choose to not legally incorporate, especially newer or small Timebanks. This can be limiting in the long term as far as fundraising and in other ways that could move a Timebank forward, and it also could present a liability problem for the coordinators of the Timebank with their personal assets being at risk. That said, some Timebanks still operate this way and especially Timebanks that do not accept money for membership. This may work well for them. Some Timebanks start this way and move to other structures over time as well. The first half of Legal Structures for Transition (tb-kc), from a webinar in 2013 from the Sustainble Economies Law Center, will help with understanding what different legal organization options are available.
We have very little documented on timebank budgets, funding, and grant procurement. Please share your experiences with the Knowledge Commons by sharing documents or writing an article about financial matters in your timebank such as – budgets, fundraising plans, grants, hiring a full time coordinator, grass roots fundraising, experiences with have annual member donations or any other financial topic for Timebanks.
Generally, smaller Timebanks have few rules spelled out in writing, but as Timebanks grow, many find having clearly spelled out agreements on behavior in the timebank help make expectations clear for everyone and solve problems before they start. Because as much as we hope all will get along in a Timebank, disputes can come up between members or a member can behave inappropriately. Member handbooks, Codes of conduct, and clearly defined complaint policies help. Check out the examples below.
Member Handbooks vary depending on the Timebank’s needs and its style. Below there are three different handbooks of varying length and detail, but they all help clarify how the Timebank works, its policies, and how members should behave.
Code of Conduct – Rushey Green Time Bank Code of Conduct (tb-kc) – This code of conduct is aimed at creating a welcoming, enjoyable experience and safe environment for all. It ensures that all members know what behaviour they have a right to expect from other members in the Time Bank.
Complaint Policies TBUSA Coordinator Call Presentation about Member complaints (tb-kc) is a good place to start for building a complaint policy of your own. Of course we always hope that there will never be complaints, but people will be people, and having a plan for how to deal with issues before they happen is a good idea.
How are decisions made in a Timebank? How is the organization structured? Timebanks vary widely on how decision making occurs and how they are organized. Some have a classic non profit styled board with a board of directors, and run by Roberts rules, to organizations which are cooperatives or decision-making is by consensus styled models, like Dynamic Governance or Holocracy. Some Timebanks are very loosely organized with no real system of how decision making is handled, especially in very new or small Timebanks.
This video from Sustainable Economies Law Center, Governance is Life! Organizational Governance for the Next Economy (tb-kc) is a good starting point in thinking about governance of a Timebank.
tb-alliance – alliances / federations of timebanks
tb-support – timebank support organizationstb-legal – timebank legal considerations
tb-tos – about terms-of-service / samples
tb-safety – member safety, privacy, etc
tb-insurance – about / samples
tb-tax – tax issues history etc
tb-best-practices – timebanking best practices
tb-problems – operations problems
tb-handbook – member handbooks
tb-faq – frequently asked questions
tb-discussion – discussion / support forums for coordinators
and the whole TB-KC Resource Directory + Document Library
How you can help build the Timebank Knowledge Commons
Are you willing to share documents about your Timebank? We would love 501c3 applications that have received approval from the IRS, co-op structures, bylaws, organizational structures, scholarship programs, budgets, grassroots fundraising plans or events, codes of conduct, terms of service, complaint policies, member handbooks, and other policy documents…
Are you willing to write articles and give your experiences and detailed opinions on any of these subjects? – Having a paid coordinator, 501c3 benefits and challenges and experiences while trying to obtain a 501c3, Using a fiscal agent, Membership fees (looking for experiences with and without member fees), Long Term Financial Stability in a timebank, Governance in a timebank…