Yesterday someone asked why the association puts so much emphasis on diaper services. I love this question, because the answer gets to the core of how we get things done.
In September 2009, after one year of operation, RDIA had 26 diaper service members. Most of those members joined after a heroic spring/summer effort by Jennifer Moore Temple (Clean Bee Laundry). She was a board member who took it upon herself to recruit diaper services and tell them why they needed a trade association. Jennifer wrote personal notes to diaper services all over North America. Some of you may have joined because you received one of Jennifer’s postcards. We went from 6 diaper services at 6 months to 26 diaper services at 12 months. Now, 36 months after starting, we have 76 diaper services. They are our largest category by far. We are voting on a bylaw change this year to acknowledge their numbers and need for representation.
Back to the question posed, why do we emphasize diaper services? We value diaper services, certainly, but we don’t emphasize them over any other category. Diaper service members themselves make the difference. The board representatives and many volunteers have determined that they are going to improve business conditions. They use their meeting time at the RDIA conference well. They discuss needs and plan projects around those needs.
Two years ago, they established a diaper service business group—completely on their own—to plan projects and get them started. They took project proposals to the board to get support, and they made those projects happen. They saw that our #1 inquiry over the first year was (and still is) how to locate a diaper service, so they created a directory of diaper services and a diaper service mini website to host it. They found that potential new business owners had a lot of questions about how to start a diaper service, so they created a kit with essential information for a diaper service start-up. The kit is well worth its price tag, and the income helps support the work they and other volunteers do. Diaper service volunteers were also active on the cloth diapers in daycare project because they heard from their customers that parents need cloth diaper resources to take to childcare providers. They created a tip sheet and guide for parents.
This past year, diaper services were more ambitious. They set a goal to investigate an accreditation program for diaper services. They didn’t just investigate, though. They have created the program, and it will be launched at the conference in two weeks. They saw that customers want reassurance of safe, clean diapers, so they set standards businesses can follow to be sure their processing results in safe, clean diapers. Members have to pay to be part of the program, but they save money on testing through a group discount. Again, they saw the need, and they focused on how to meet it. They were ambitious, and their volunteers gave a lot of hours to create a professional program.
In two and a half years, we have seen diaper services go from a minor part of the trade association to 46% of our membership. The board of directors didn’t make a plan for this specifically. When volunteers came forward to say that they were prepared to grow their category and meet their needs, the board of directors supported them, paid for the minor expenses of the projects, and provided our administrator for support.
Members made this change. Members became volunteers, and volunteers became leaders.
If you want to witness how far diaper services have come, please attend the Diaper Service Accreditation presentation Tuesday afternoon. If you look closely, you will notice that the chair of this project was not even a diaper service member, but a very active Associate member, Kim Webb of Rockin’ Green. We don’t have to stay within boundaries on our projects. We follow our interests and skills. We are all pulling in the same direction.
If you want to see a change in emphasis within the association, make it happen! The RDIA board would love to support a transformation like this in every member category. Be the change you want to see. Step up to plan and execute projects. On Tuesday, September 28, after the annual meeting of members, members in each category will meet separately to discuss their needs as a group and their plans for the upcoming year. Do you want to talk about specific needs within your category or a project you are ready to make happen? If you want to put the focus within RDIA on your category, your project, or just on recruiting more members, you can.
Just step up and lead the change.