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Eastbay Area Reciprocity Network


What is reciprocity?

Rec·i·proc·i·ty (noun): a mutual exchange of commercial or other privileges

For our purposes, reciprocity involves an exchange of time rather than goods. Time is a privilege that we all can use to help other people. In return, other people can help us with tasks that we may not have proper skills to complete.

Imagine that you are an experienced gardener, yet you know nothing about sewing. Through the concept of reciprocity, you can give someone two hours of your time by gardening for them, or teaching them how to garden. In return, someone else could mend or alter your clothes. For every hour you spend gardening, you receive an hour of someone else’s time.  Perhaps that growing stack in the closet can reinvigorate your wardrobe!

Why is reciprocity better than volunteering?

While giving your time away to others and expecting nothing in return is fantastic, the people you help often feel the desire to return the favor.  Just as you feel good about helping those in need, accepting help from others provides them with a sense of dignity and community belonging. Time banking broadens the scope of possibilities for people to engage with and assist each other by creating a community pool of time and a variety of skills.  Through time banking, any person can help another member according to their needs, and, although the skills of a person you help may not match your needs, time banking allows them to reciprocate anyway. 

How does Eastbay Area Reciprocity Network (EARN) work?

Every hour that you spend helping someone is deposited in your time bank account. When someone helps you, you withdraw time from your account and credit their account with the hours they spent doing something for you.  There is no interest, minimum balance, or monthly fees. If your account balance drops below zero, that is perfectly fine. Just don’t let it get too low and find a way to help someone else for a while. You also do not want to let your balance get too high. The idea is to help people and be helped, so your average account balance will ideally switch back and forth often between numbers above zero and numbers below zero. 

Does it cost anything to be a member of Eastbay Area Reciprocity Network?

It is suggested that members donate $10-$50 annually to help EARN keep its website running, to sponsor member and promotional events that will attract more members, and to cover other operational expenses. However, we do not require any fees for membership. The more people who are involved in EARN, the more opportunities we all have to help others and to be helped by others. 

Where does Eastbay Area Reciprocity Network operate?

EARN operates in the East San Francisco Bay Area. Our neighborhoods extend mainly from Hayward/San Leandro/Castro Valley, Oakland, Berkeley, and Albany, with a few people extending bordering those areas. The neighborhood structure allows people to exchange services locally without excessive travel time. We are excited about increasing our scope by extending our neighborhood structure, so please reach out to us if you would like help organizing time banking in your East Bay neighborhood!

Can children join Eastbay Area Reciprocity Network?

Children under the age of 18 may not sign up as EARN members. However, they may participate through a parent or guardian’s member account with permission. This is a great way for children to obtain tutoring services, private lessons and other services that their families may not be able to afford.  Children also take great pride in contributing time to their family's account, and parents can get creative about how to distribute the time in the account.

How do I join?

To get started, create your login from the home page of this Web site.  A coordinator will receive a message indicating you have created a login and an automatic message will be sent to confirm that you can receive a message from our messaging feature.  Check your spam folder if you do not see a message within a few days.  The message will include a link email and you just need to click that link, which will confirm that you received the message.  If we don't hear from you we will follow up with an email outside of our messaging feature to figure out why you did not receive the message.  We may also may call you if we do not hear from you to check the status of our communication. Once we have the communication worked out you will need to attend an information / orientation session.  This might be a formal group or informal individual session or, if you would like to host a session and invite a few people you think might be interested, that is a great option.  We're flexible and excited about growing our organization!

What if I don't have frequent access to a computer?

There are different ways to address this concern.  If you occasionally use a computer, such as at a public library, you can post service offers and requests whenever it works out for you and request that other members respond via phone.  Alternatively, we can pair you up with another member who can manage your on-line presence by posting for you, watching for responses, sending messages, and communicating with you by phone.

Wait! I have another question that you did not answer yet!

OK! Just click “Contact Links” at the right side of this page, go to "Contact TimeBank Coordinator" and ask away! We will respond to your question in a timely manner.