Studying time credits

This week while having my mid-terms I researched on the idea of time credits, which my team is planning to adapt in our final project, 1our.

Time Banking was initially popularized in the US by human rights lawyer Edgar Cahn in 1986, when “money for social programs dried up” and no dominant approach to social service in the US was coming up with creative ways to solve the problem, and the term ‘Time Credits’ were coined by him. The first time bank was started in Japan as early as 1973 by Teruko Mizushima, where she had foreseen problems of an ageing society in the 1940s(!).

Time == Money?

Spice ( is based in the UK and is one of the more popular developments of the Time Credits concept, where:

“for each hour that an individual gives to their community or service, they earn a Time Credit. These credits can then be spent on an hour’s activity, help from another individual, or gifted to others.”

Given this association with time credits and social work, it may make sense to apply time credits to social work instead of just a general listing of work or odd jobs. MCI seems to have the same idea in the ICT masterplan preliminary ideas, but it seems that it hasn’t materialized. In Singapore, it seems more volunteers are needed in some areas like the elderly

Is / will there be demand?

An issue may be that people just “don’t have the time”, especially in busy Singapore.

With regard to volunteerism, youths may not want to volunteer. Still, first on the list of goals in the survey were maintaining strong relationships, and third was learning new skills and knowledge. Time credits have been shown to exactly meet these needs, and seems to me more meaningful and useful than CIP hours.

With 43 per cent of those aged between 15 and 24 served as volunteers in 2012, and the number rising, our project may add more meaning to the somewhat top down and forced CIP volunteerism. Of note is that the rates of volunteerism drop for working adults who concentrate on building their careers, so we can probably rule them out as our main target audience.

Time < Money?

It has been found that most may just want to give money instead of time. Again this would apply to the general working population, so maybe we should focus on people who are still studying and those who have retired, who have the most ‘free time’.

Is there time for us?

Spice has an extensive list of partners and backing from the local government, but for our 2 month project perhaps we could focus on validating the idea instead of trying to scale it to many organisations. Some suggestions are to start small, with activities the community is familiar with