A ‘Happiness’ Bank for Good Samaritans

An Estonian bank dispenses a currency of good deeds

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Money can’t buy you love, but there is now an Estonian bank that trades in good deeds.

The Bank of Happiness was founded five years ago to give people a forum to offer and request favors or services for free. Founder Airi Kivi expressed the aim of the project on its website: “We were then and are today convinced that the formula of happiness lies in noticing others. We feel that people want to help others, but often don’t know how. On the other hand, we know that there are people who need help in solving their daily problems, but don’t know whom to address.”

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To become a member of the Bank of Happiness, you simply have to create an account with your name, then post an offering or make a request. It is not surprising that among the approximately 2,000 individuals who use this benevolent bank, more people provide than ask.

With few rules, users are free to contribute any deed they are in a position to provide. Offerings on the site vary greatly and range from resume advice to yoga instruction via Skype. One of the most common services provided is tutoring in a foreign language. The only requirements of the forum are that neither money nor products are exchanged. The bank’s unit of currency is called the “Star of Gratitude,” equivalent to “a big hug, a box of chocolates or with gratitude coming from the heart,” according to the bank site.

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Bank founder Kivi is trying to grow awareness of the forum and told TIME that she hopes both the number of clients and offers grows. That way, there will be higher turnover for the site’s posts. “If you have an offer, you want somebody to answer it quite quickly,” she said, “maybe in a week or something.”

While growth is slow at the moment, Kivi says she has taken full advantage of the market place and has used it herself. She offered help in resume writing to someone looking for a job and received free massage therapy on several occasions.

So, to big-hearted people willing to give (and receive), banking–in happiness–may be your new calling.

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