The Sharing Tree Benefits

The Sharing Tree aim to build stronger communities and spending points is a really important part of this. Spending is a way for people to get involved in different activities, develop new hobbies, visit places they may not have been to before and get to know more people in their local area. Spending can also help people to do things they may not have been able to afford before, or had not thought about spending money on. Spending Sharing Tree points might be the first time someone has felt valued for their time and this can build their confidence. If other people spend Sharing Tree points at an activity organised or run by a member, this can really help to build their role as a community leader and help them to feel valued by their community.

User Registration

No. A person might only ever earn one Sharing Tree point, they may earn them infrequently, or as often as they are able. People need to register and be verified before earning Sharing Tree points  to become a part of the network. This also helps us to ensure we are building a trusted community. 

We believe The Sharing Tree offers a bunch – economically, socially and environmentally – to you personally and to your community. We want everyone to be a part of it and you can register for FREE, however, you will need to cover the expense of your compliance costs (ie. a national police check, a working with children check and, if required, an international police check).

Visitors can browse The Sharing Tree listings, however, they cannot access the site functionality and they cannot exchange on the marketplace without registering. Through the registration and verification process and the Site feedback tools, we aim to provide a secure and reliable community for trading. Registration is FREE, quick and easy and for offering your first two (x2) listings, you will earn your fist lot of bonus points to kick-start your exchanges.

The Sharing Tree Locations

The Sharing Tree is beginning its journey in Melbourne, Australia. Staying place based is important to The Sharing Tree in assisting local connections, building trust and a mutual aid culture. If your area is not listed on the Sharing Tree yet, you can still be involved by selecting “Other” and engaging through our online exchange opportunities. You can also let us know you are interested in getting it happening in your area by emailing us at thesharingtree@vt.uniting.org and, with your help, we can discuss what the options may be…

Using the Marketplace

Use the search filters on the marketplace to find what you are looking for. If what you are looking for is not available on the marketplace, you can add a “Request” to the marketplace through the “Create New Listing” option on the Marketplace. Requests aim to encourage The Sharing Tree community to offer what you are looking for.

No, you don’t have to exchange with another member if you don’t feel comfortable in doing so. If you’d be happier exchanging with members once you’ve met them, organise a social event, such as a picnic, and get to know your neighbours face-to-face first. The Sharing Tree provides you with tools like verification and feedback ratings to help you make your decisions about who you exchange with; however, the decision about who you trade with is yours.

You can modify or delete your exchange by going to the “Active Exchanges” area on your “Dashboard”. If, during your communication with the other member, a different amount of points than originally offered is required, the person making the offer (or the person that made the request) can select “Update Points” in the Active Exchange section. The “Update Points” option is only available before the exchange is confirmed. It is important to use the “Update Points” option if agreed exchange points are change as this is the amount of points that will be removed from the appropriate account at the end of the exchange (once it has been confirmed the exchange has occurred). All other modifications to your exchange details can occur through the message option on the appropriate listing within “Active Exchanges” (ie. timeframes, pick-up point etc).

Either party can delete an exchange by going to the appropriate listing within “Active Exchanges”, however, you can only delete a particular exchange before the “Claim Points” option has been selected within the exchange process. A listing will disappear from your “Active Exchange” area once a review has been left by the person in receipt of the services/activity/item.

Making a Listing

You can modify or delete your listing by going to “My Listings” on your “Dashboard” and selecting edit and then, you can either edit or delete. If your listing is within an active exchange, you can only edit/delete your listing after the exchange is completed (or that particular active exchange listing can be deleted within the “Active Exchanges” section of your “Dashboard) by either party before the “Claim Points” option has been selected within the exchange process. A listing will disappear from your “Active Exchange” area once a review has been left by the person in receipt of the exchange.

Completing an Exchange

On an occasion where something does go wrong, The Sharing Tree team can help. Listers can contact the team through the “Contact Us” form in the “Help” section. The outcome of the your request will be based on discussions with both exchange parties and any evidence of the transaction ie. emails, photos etc.

Exchanges on The Sharing Tree are non cash based and run on a points system, where one Sharing Tree point is roughly equivalent to one hour of time. The Sharing Tree points system offers a sophisticated, but user friendly, way to help you to turn idle resources and your spare time into an alternative value that will help you become more physically and socially active for free.

Each registered member gets their own secure user account and when their items or services are used, the agreed upon amount of points will become available to spend. When the member receiving the help or service confirms that the exchange has happened, the agreed upon amount of points will be deducted from their account and credited to the member that provided the help/service. Any open exchanges and each step of the exchange is listed under “Active Exchanges” on your “Dashboard”. Whilst members value their own listings, an interested party can negotiate the agreed points amount and any details for each exchange (and you will be guided through these steps/details by the system).

The Sharing Tree has been setup with practical user friendliness as key to its development. The “Dashboard” demonstrates this focus, where at a glance you can see your points balance, your feedback rating, your active listings, your flagged listings, new listings, a map of other members around your area and your active exchanges and the next steps. You’re ‘Active Exchanges’ section will help you manage your exchanges, showing you exactly what you need to do next to complete an exchange. You can also select in your profile to receive alerts to your external email regarding new exchanges and the outstanding steps.

Points Information

Once Sharing Tree points have been spent, the listing member will be awarded with those points (unless they are a corporate spend partner as these points will be sent back out into the community to be earned all over again). If the points are spent at a community service or through a small business member, they are allocated to that organisation to be spent. It’s simple! 

The Sharing Tree points cannot be used to buy products or goods, however, they can be used at some small business venues as listed on The Sharing Tree marketplace. The majority of Sharing Tree spending opportunities include activities or borrowing things for a certain amount of time, as each Sharing Tree point is worth one hour. The Sharing Tree points can be spent on all sorts of activities, like taking a course, seeing a show with friends, getting a haircut, hiring a room, or visiting a special attraction (however, what is available will differ in each location as it is dependent on local skills and capacities). 

There is currently no time limit on points. However, we do encourage people to spend them quickly as this means that they are accessing positive and interesting opportunities, and enables the circulation of points amongst the community.

The Sharing Tree model works simply: for each hour that a member contributes to the network or community services (through the marketplace listings), they could earn ten Sharing Tree points. The Sharing Tree points have no monetary value at all. 

Sharing Tree points can be spent on getting help or guidance from another member, on the use of a resource, at participating local venues or in the network of small business spend partners. The amount of points required to access a spending opportunity will differ across listings, depending on whether it is a professional service/business or a community member (and what the cost to the provider may be).   

Sharing Tree points are not transferable, however, members can use their Sharing Tree points to take someone else to a spending opportunity with them (as long as this has been confirmed with the lister and the appropriate amount of points has been agreed).

Members will select “I’m interested” on the marketplace to access the relevant spending opportunity and to work out the details (spend partners are in control of these accessibility details). 

The Sharing Tree is incredibly flexible and points can be earned in lots of ways! You earn points by offering your things (to trade or to borrow), services/skills or the completion of tasks for The Sharing Tree community. You can be imaginative with these offerings; for example, you could earn points by offering storage space, garden space, cooking tutorials or a lift. You put these contributions up as a new listing on The Sharing Tree (you need to contribute at least x2 listings to obtain your free 4 points during the registration process) and wait for a response from the community. Keep an eye on the ‘requested’ section of the marketplace to see what the community needs and whether you can offer that to earn extra points.

Other ways you can earn points is through ‘friend referrals’ (1 points for each referral) and for receiving positive feedback for a transaction (1 points for each transaction). You cannot buy or sell points for cash. The Sharing Tree model works simply: for each hour that an individual contributes to the network, they can earn 2 Sharing Tree points.

One Sharing Tree point is valued at approximately one hour of time. It is up to the member listing to determine how many points they want to put on your their service, item or chore completion listing. This amount can be further negotiated for each listing with the other member through the exchange process.

Leaving a Review

If a negative review is left; there is an opportunity for the lister to question the review through the “Contact Us” form in the “Help” section. This option is to prevent personal gripes/misunderstandings negatively impacting a  members usage of the system as would occur if their reputation percentage was reduced. Whether this review will remain or be amended is at the administrators discretion (and based on the information obtained through their liaison with both exchange parties).

If you need to change a review you already left due to an error, please use the “Contact Us” form in the “Help” section and submit a request. We will look at the circumstances and may be able to change it for you if the request is received within 30 days from the completion of the transaction. After 30 days have passed, we cannot change your review anymore.

A members review rating is a quick way to see how reputable they are. With your reviews, our system enables the automatic suspension of any incorrect or poorly described items/services/activities. We will also suspend any untrustworthy members.

Over time, The Sharing Tree members will develop their reputation through the reviews left by other members based on exchanges. The “Active Exchanges” section includes a “Review” option at the end of an exchange (this is not compulsory, however, members are awarded points for providing reviews.).  A review on exchanges that have been cancelled or rejected is not allowed.

Support for Vulnerable Participants

We encourage carers or support workers to assist vulnerable members to engage in The Sharing Tree spending opportunities. If a member or someone you know or support has accessibility needs, please get in touch with The Sharing Tree team and they will liaise with the spending partner to try and organize free access for carers or support workers to escort vulnerable members in potential spending opportunities (we will try our best, however, this is a decision for the spending partner). 

The Sharing Tree is a great tool for broadening inclusion and anyone can take part in anything that is appropriate for them. We believe everyone has something to give, regardless of age or disability and we work with a wide range of organisations who have developed ways that people can get involved. Uniting’s community connector volunteer program, which is available to eligible community members, is an additional support for assisting vulnerable community members to engage with The Sharing Tree. Use the “Contact us” form through the “Help” section to obtain more information about our community connector volunteer program.

Insurance

No, The Sharing Tree doesn’t offer insurance for stuff you share. If you have your own insurance policy you could check to see what it covers.

Privacy and Safety

Many people have concerns with posting details of things they have to lend out, because they are worried that someone might then come to their house or shed and steal those things.

The main answer to this problem is that your address is not listed on the site. If someone emails you wanting to borrow a ladder, say, you can either respond by agreeing to drop it off at their address or meet up elsewhere, or you can decline, saying that you would rather meet up first and then discuss the potential of sharing. Most people share and lend out their items all of the time without hesitation and the majority in your neighbourhood are reliable and trustworthy people. The Sharing Tree will help through its verification and feedback tools to make sure that its members are this majority. If you have other privacy concerns, please refer to our “Privacy Policy” for further information.

We cannot guarantee this; however, we have developed some pretty sophisticated tools (feedback and verification processes) to help you to rate potential exchange partners. Members who have  positive feedback on the site can be considered more trustworthy than those that do not.

We do our best to verify members, and the majority of people are good. However, in order to reduce the success of a minority that may be involved in fraud, we use a couple of verification mechanisms. All Sharing Tree members are required to undergo a National Police Check, a Working with Children Check (which involves a rigorous identity check) and, if relevant, an International Police Check. Although these verification processes do not necessarily mean a member is 100% trustworthy, these, combined with the site feedback tools, will help you to decide for yourself whether or not exchange with a particular individual.

Tax & Income Assistance Implications

You are responsible and liable for ensuring you meet any income assistance obligations in relation to The Sharing Tree services you provide to or receive from other Sharing Tree Members. The Sharing Tree does not warrant or represent that it has examined income assistance implications of any transaction that a Sharing Tree Member may enter into. If you are unsure about the income assistance impacts that may arise in relation to the The Sharing Tree services you provide or receive, you should obtain professional advice on this issue.

Business Involvement

From a small business point of view, people spending The Sharing Tree points through your service should be no different to ordinary customers. They should be managed in the same way as other customers and any structures or processes that are in place should also apply. You still need to make sure that your volunteers and community members are safe and may need to provide induction, training and compliance checks as appropriate for your group or service. As a small business member, you are responsible for the health and safety of any people earning or spending The Sharing Tree points with you and you are responsible for managing customers and ensuring that any risks are appropriately managed. Any points earning and spending activity must be covered by the health & safety management, insurance, policies and procedures of your organisation or service. We cannot take responsibility for health & safety procedures or accept liability for any damages that occur at The Sharing Tree activities organised by your organisation, group or external partners.

Businesses get involved with The Sharing Tree for lots of different reasons, it all depends on how they work and what they are looking to achieve. We find that businesses tend to think it’s a great way to get people more aware of their services, whilst also supporting positive community action.  

The corporate spend partners that provide ways to spend Sharing Tree points are asked for pro bono activities and services, however, each opportunity is assessed and negotiated in its contribution to the Sharing Tree on its own merits. Small business Sharing Tree members do not receive any payment for their contributions to The Sharing Tree.

The Sharing Tree team work with businesses. There are two different types of business involvement on the Sharing Tree. The first is a corporate spend partner (CSP). A CSP is approached by The Sharing Tree team with a request to offer spending opportunities as a pro bono arrangement on The Sharing Tree (and they do not earn points for these offerings). If you or someone you know is linked to a business that might want to get involved, contact the Sharing Tree team and let them know. As businesses give all the opportunities pro bono, it’s up to them to decide whether The Sharing Tree will work for them. These businesses are in control of when their activity or service is on offer and the details (so they can choose off peak times) and the free advertising they receive through the Sharing Tree is a great way to benefit from their excess capacity.  

The second type of business involvement is a small business that decides to sign up to the Sharing Tree as a member. These small business members can both earn and spend points through the Sharing Tree network. 

Community Organisation Involvement

The Sharing Tree always give groups and services as much support as we can to make sure you get the most out of The Sharing Tree. We will provide you with support to set up The Sharing Tree in your organisation or service, including developing earning and spending opportunities, communicating The Sharing Tree and understanding administration. We will provide you with a Sharing Tree statement each quarter for monitoring information on members and how credits have been earned and spent through your group. We will also continue to develop a broad range of spending partners, as the local project grows and in balance with local community spending opportunities. If you have an idea for how we could tailor our support locally please do get in touch with The Sharing Tree team.

As a member, you are responsible for the health and safety of any people earning or spending The Sharing Tree points with you. Any points earning and spending activity must be covered by the health & safety management, insurance, policies and procedures of your organisation or service. We know that some smaller community groups might not have these processes in place so we can also provide support and templates to make sure you’ve thought about risk and health and safety. Please email The Sharing Tree administration through thesharingtree@vt.uniting.org to discuss these needs. We cannot take responsibility for health & safety procedures or accept liability for any damages that occur at The Sharing Tree activities organised by your organisation, group or external partners.  

From a community organisation or group’s point of view, people earning The Sharing Tree points through your service should be no different to ordinary volunteers. They should be managed in the same way as other volunteers and any structures or processes that are in place should also apply. You still need to make sure that your volunteers and community members are safe and may need to provide induction, training and compliance checks as appropriate for your group or service. You are responsible for managing the volunteers and ensuring that any risks are appropriately managed. If you have any concerns about this, we can advise you on where to get support. A good place to start is Volunteering Victoria:  https://www.volunteeringvictoria.org.au/