1. Why would I want to join Merrymeeting Community Shares?
A. In our current economic model we are constantly juggling the use of our time, talent and money. By participating in Merrymeeting Community Shares and thereby reducing that equation by a third, you’ll be free to do more of the things you love, as other members are available to do the things you don’t enjoy. This approach, grounded in the principle of abundance and not tied to your bank balance, allows you to redefine wealth and prosperity in these challenging times. Your participation in MCS will also expand your circle of acquaintances and foster friendship.
2. What are ‘Shares‘?
A: Shares, generically known as ‘time dollars’, represent the amount of time one MCS member has spent helping other members. When you spend an hour helping another MCS member, one share gets added to your account and subtracted from the account of the member who received your service. Half and quarter hours can also be recorded. Shares can be exchanged at a one share per hour rate for services and goods being offered by someone in the organization.
3. What’s the difference between time banking and volunteering?
A. One of the core values of time banking is reciprocity or getting something back in return. All of our members are expected to give and to receive services.
4. What is the difference between time banking and bartering?
A.While bartering involves haggling with another person in order to exchange items of roughly equal value, in timebanking there is no negotiating and no requirement of a two-sided exchange with the same person. All exchanges are done in hours, which are always of equal value. You can spend or earn hours in an exchange with any other member in a time frame that suits you.
5. Do I have to live in Bath or Brunswick to join Merrymeeting Community Shares?
A: No. You can join if you live in the mid-coast area or even if you live somewhere else but spend enough time in the mid-coast to earn and spend ‘shares’ here. If you live far from other members, your exchanges might start slowly, but we’ll be working on adding new members all the time. And you can speed that process along AND earn Time Dollars by hosting a house party to recruit your neighbors!
6. Does a share have a monetary value?
A: No, a share never has a monetary value. ‘Time dollars’ operate outside the market economy and just track the services (and sometimes goods) that people provide for each other.
7. Are shares taxable?
A: ‘Time dollars’, issued by ‘time banks’, have been ruled tax exempt by the IRS because an hour is always valued at one hour, because there is no legal responsibility on anyone’s part to redeem a ‘time dollar’, and because the purpose of ‘time dollars’ is charitable. Read the IRS rulings: IRS Website
8. Are shares transferable?
A. Yes. You can arrange with the Coordinator to donate your shares to a non-member, who will receive a service that will be debited from your account.
9. Can I do a service that I am not listed as offering?
A. Yes. If another member requests a service that you can perform, you are encouraged to do so. If you would like to continue to offer that service, you may add it to your profile and to our online list of offerings.
10. If I need urgent help can I call MCS?
A. MCS does not provide emergency services. If you need time sensitive assistance, however, there are solutions open to you. The system is set up for you to contact any other member directly and request a service. If you require a service in a short time frame and can’t find a listing for that service, you may email or call the Coordinator, who will send out a request to the membership. When possible, of course, you should plan ahead and submit your request through the monthly Member-to-Member Email Update. Members will respond directly to you.
11. Are there services MCS cannot provide?
A. We are not able to provide ongoing services such as giving you a ride to work every day or cleaning your house every week. We are also limited to the services offered by our members. MCS is always seeking members who can expand our service base. Also, although members have managed large projects through MCS, such as weddings and moves, they must be broken down into smaller jobs. For example, if you need help moving, you would ask some members to help you organize, people to pack boxes before moving day, perhaps find someone with a truck, others to move furniture and boxes out of the old location and into your new home, and someone else could help to clean the space you’ve vacated.
12. Can a member earn shares by doing volunteer work in the community?
A. Yes. When it has been cleared in advance with the Coordinator, besides exchanges between individual members, MCS may allow members to receive credit for providing services to the larger community, thus making the community a “member” as well. For example, members could earn shares by volunteering at the soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or teen center.
13. Can an organization or agency become a member?
A. Yes, MCS has member businesses, and other organizations, and we are working toward expanding this level of membership to include churches and professional affiliates. In return, various members provide them with services such as distributing fliers or doing grounds maintenance.
14. Why does MCS need donations if it is a non-profit?
A. Merrymeeting Community Shares membership is free-of-cost and open to all. Providing members with access to services at no cost does incur operational expenses such as utilities, technology, postage, office supplies, and the stipend paid to the Coordinator. These systems are essential to accomplishing our mission, reaching out to the community, and expanding the service base for our members. We generate most of these funds through on-going fund-raising activities. Annually, we must also ask those members who can to donate according to their means.
15. What about liability?
A: Some time banks obtain volunteer liability insurance, which covers problems that might occur during a service exchange. MCS does not carry liability insurance. In the decades that time banking has been around no claims have ever been filed against a time bank. Time banking is based on trust and reciprocity, and there is no anonymity in the system. These are strong deterrents to misuse.
16. Are you concerned about safety?
A: All Merrymeeting Shares applicants are interviewed and screened. The MCS Coordinator calls the personal references the applicant has listed. At this time MCS does not do a criminal background check. We rely on these references and the observations, intuition and feedback of the membership, and we encourage members to report any concerns to the Coordinator. Participation in MCS is the responsibility of the members.
17. Does MCS give talks and presentations to community groups?
A. Yes, MCS is happy to schedule speaking engagements when available; E-mail us to set a time.