Echo is a time bank network that lets people and organisations trade their time, resources and skills to help each other and get things done.
Members can trade the skills or resources they have for those they need by using time (or ‘Echoes’) as currency, where one Echo = one hour.
For example, if you’re a freelance graphic designer you could design a logo for a startup, earning yourself Echoes which you could then spend on anything from desk space to guitar lessons – or donate to a local charity.
The site can be used by “anyone and everyone” – from individuals, startups and social enterprises to big charities and corporations. The goal is to make better use of untapped resources within communities and organisations, bringing people together and building a more resilient and sustainable society, where people share and help each other.
The project was piloted as ‘Hackney Shares’, a borough-wide network of time banks which hosted exchanges between any member of any time bank in Hackney (whether individuals or organisations), via a web platform.
Created by Timber Wharf Time Bank, Hackney Shares aimed to maximise and streamline volunteering opportunities in the borough, making time banking more sustainable in the process.
The Hackney Shares local pilot was a success and, having renamed as Echo (Economy of Hours), and expanded across the rest of east London, the organisation is now in the process of becoming an independent enterprise before scaling across the rest of Greater London and providing its tech and sustainability model at no cost to organisations across the rest of the UK.
As of November 2014, Echo has 535 organisation members trading over 340 hours per month, with an average of 522 listings on the platform at any given time. The majority of these hours are attributed to the giving of ‘enterprise support’, often through user-led training programmes.
Currently, an average of 20 East London organisations join the platform monthly, building an increasingly valuable network of support. In total, Echo members have traded accumulated resource with a value equivalent to £210, 740.
In 2015, Echo will introduce a small admin fee for trading organisations, with the aim of becoming self-sustaining by the end of the year – with profits directly supporting new time banks.
The organisation also aims to be a centre of learning and best practice for time banks, and invites organisations and charities keen to develop time banks/networks in their own area in the UK to get in touch.
Echo was awarded £145,000 in the first round of the Innovation in Giving Fund to develop the network and the online platform Hackney Shares.
Echo was awarded an additional £150,000 to fund further development of the platform and help support the transition to sustainability.
The organisation has also been supported by the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC).