Thoughts on Committees …

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The Time Banking literature that I have read so far written either by academics or Time Banking practitioners doesn’t go into much detail about the formation of the Committees who support the TimeBank Co-ordinators (members of the TimeBank who work voluntarily or for Time Credits to help run the TimeBank). I haven’t found much writing yet on how they operate over time, or how work is delegated, how much of the work is paid for in Time Credits, and how to avoid burnout (although there must be other literature available on this topic – as the potential for burnout amongst people working in volunary organisations is well-known). A productive committee or support team seems to be key in getting the infrastructure of a TimeBank established. This infrastructure includes Community Weaver 2.0 – the online database of offers and requests, a paid co-ordinator, a venue, in some cases registration as a charity or incorporated society, and regular social events. Over the past year I have collected the following suggestions from TimeBank co-ordinators and other community organisers about how to set up and maintain a well-functioning Committee:

– Discuss alternative names for the role of committee member: Social Architects, Social Entrepreunures, TimeBank Creators, TimeBank Champions …
– Invite potential committee members to suggest a period of time that they are happy to commit to: three months, six months, a year, or until X goal is achieved by the TimeBank (this may help to reassure people that you are not asking for a lifetime of continuing voluntary commitment to the TimeBank).
– Of course members have the option to renew or extend their term, and this could be a good time for them to talk about whether they are getting what they hoped to get out of the experience, and if they have experienced feeling overworked at any stage.
– Ask members to commit to replacing themselves before they leave their position on the committe, finding a friend or contact who is willing to take on their role(s), and bringing them along to a meeting or two before the changeover.
– Invite members to write down at the start of their term a few of their reasons for joining the committee, what they hope to get out of it, why they are passionate about the TimeBank, what their reasons are for supporting it (personal and community reasons).
– Pay Committee members in Time Credits for their work, and encourage them to spend their credits. People on the Committee need to take an active part in trading, at a rate that is manageable and helpful for them (finding things to spend their time credits on that give some time back to them, encourage all TimeBank members to look for ways to be less busy and less stressed through their participation in the TimeBank – for example, asking someone else to cook you dinner). This can be challenging at the start when the TimeBank is in the early stages and the skills and people available are limited. Committee members can donate as many credits as they wish to the Community Chest if they are finding it hard to spend them in the early stages of the TimeBank. These credits can then be gifted to a charity or other community organisation – who will therefore be encouraged to find ways to spend them …
– Have fun! Share food, listen to music together, meet at each other’s houses, meet at cafes, the beach or a beautiful park.

We have incorporated these ideas into a draft sign-up sheet for use with our Dunedin TimeBank Committee, and I have uploaded a copy to the TBANZ website. Any thoughts or suggestions that you have on how to form a Committee and keep people engaged and not burnt out are very welcome.

I hope to update this blog much more regularly in 2012. Thank-you for your comments and feedback so far, it’s been great to hear from you all.

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One thought on “Thoughts on Committees …

  1. Thanks Emma for these comments on committees, I am currently dealing with all these issues in my Timebank now. I have become aware that the steering group needed to start a Timebank has a very different role from say the working/project group. At first there are a lot of decisions to make about, fees, reference checks, police checks, rules for joining, process to join, orientation, gaols, mission etc. This needs a mature, balanced group of people with life experience to make these decisions. After the initial startup this committee would have more of a supervisory and advisory role. Whereas the working group/ project committee is more about the doing part of encouraging trading, social events, promotion of timebanking in the community and many more one off events. It seems to me the ideal is to start up a new timebank under the umbrella of an exisiting group that has the over riding interests of your community at its core. But in the absence of such an umbrella group as many of us are, then a steering committee is needed. I am thinking of implementing a two stage committee process maybe with some of the same people but each committee having quite different tasks and focus. Thanks for the committee sign up form, thats a great idea and Im going to use it. cheers Joy

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