Tag Archives: bylaws

By-Law Change Passes 49-3

Every few years, it is standard for associations to review the make-up of their members and modify board representation to accurately reflect their membership. For example, diaper service membership had grown considerably, but diaper services were still represented by only two board members. With this discrepancy and others in mind, the RDIA board proposed By-Law changes in September of 2011, and these By-Law changes were overwhelmingly passed by 49-3 on February 7, 2012.  These changes improve our association in many ways.

More Diaper Service Board Members, Fewer Manufacturer and Retailer Board Members

RDIA membership is currently comprised of 17 Manufacturers, 50 Retailers, 71 Diaper Services, 7 Artisan Manufacturers, and 21 Associate Members. Since the resurgence of diaper services has brought more diaper service members to RDIA, the board wanted these members to be properly represented. Under the new By-Laws, manufacturers, retailers, and diaper services each have three board members.

Category

Original Number of Board Members from this Category

New Number of Board Members from this Category

Manufacturer

4

3

Retailer

4

3

Diaper Service

2

3

Artisan Manufacturer

1

1

At-Large (New)

N/A

3

Diaper Service Information

1

N/A

TOTAL

12

13

 

New “At-large” Seats Provide Flexibility

Sometimes there are experienced and enthusiastic members that would like to join the board, but there are no vacancies on the board within their category. To encourage these interested members to join the board, we created three “at-large” board seats.

 

Small Manufacturers Become “Artisan Manufacturers”

The original intent of a “Small Manufacturer” category was to ensure all manufacturers were represented within the association, regardless of size. Since there have been, and always will be, professional makers sewing cloth diapers by hand and selling directly to end users, the original board wanted to ensure the voice of these cloth diaper makers, and their unique needs, were heard separate from those of larger manufacturers whose business is primarily wholesale.

Over time, however, the label “Small Manufacturer” brought confusion. Many manufacturers identified with the category name of “Small,” even though they weren’t sewing their diapers themselves by hand. So, the board decided to clarify this by adding “handmade” and renaming the category “Artisan Manufacturers.”

 

Manufacturer Member Requirement less Limited

Manufacturers used to be required to meet two of the following three criteria: 1. Gross sales over $100,000/year, 2. Has wholesale accounts (their product sold by resellers), and 3. Be in business for over 1 year. This excluded some smaller or start-up businesses manufacturing for wholesale, and was one of the reasons newer businesses often joined as “Small Manufacturer,” so this section was removed.

 

Cloth Diaper Information Services Category Eliminated

This was probably the only change that isn’t as intuitive as all the others. Historically, Cloth Diaper Information Services have not stepped up to serve on the board after Jennifer Liptrot (Diaper Pin) served. This board seat had been vacant since August 2009. For a full year, there was only one member in that category. With that in mind, the board reevaluated diaper service information services.

When the board was first created, the founding members sought a place on the board for businesses like Diaper Pin, where cloth diaper information was presented to consumers and businesses, who were then redirected to other cloth diaper businesses. Since that time, the era of blogging has taken over. In this new climate, cloth diapers are highlighted on hundreds of blogs. These blogs help spread the word of cloth diapers in our industry, and consumers as well as RDIA businesses are grateful for their contributions. Last year, a handful of bloggers joined RDIA in the diaper information service category.

Over time, blogs have become a form of publishing and public relations. Blogs are popular, social, informative, and can have political impact. The natural category for bloggers seems to lie within the Associate Membership category, along with all other businesses  and organizations that support the cause of RDIA, want to be an integral part of its future, interact with its members, and show that together our industry is stronger than as individuals. In my research on trade associations, this is where bloggers typically fall. The decision was further encouraged because no information service members showed interest in representing their category on the board in 2011 when there was an open seat.

An association is a living, breathing entity that constantly changes to best serve its industry.  We can only assume that we will revisit this decision and reevaluate cloth diaper bloggers and other cloth diaper information services in the future. In the meantime, we will work with bloggers as associate members, offering an open dialog to better our industry, as well as opportunities for interacting with all RDIA members. We have offered all previous cloth diaper information service members a full one-year extension to their now associate memberships. We look forward to a continued relationship between cloth diaper bloggers and other cloth diaper businesses.

 

How Will These Changes Be Phased In?

The board analyzed several scenarios for phasing in the new board member distribution. The goals were to ensure all current board members would serve out their terms, minimize short terms (less than three years), and keep the board as balanced as possible. Ideally, we wanted to see new board members elected each year for each of the large categories: manufacturers, retailers, diaper services, and at-large.

The graph below shows our idea for implementing the new board seats. Please click on it to see a larger view.

Become a Board Member

There will be a total of six vacancies on the RDIA board this year (2 Diaper Service, 1 Manufacturer, 1 Retailer, and 2 At-Large). The second diaper service seat and the second at-large seat will be short terms as we work toward the ideal of each category having one seat up for election each year.

Cloth diaper business owners

RDIA Board Members Matt Guckin, Mandi Meidlinger, and Catherine Bolden.

As elections approach, be sure to ask board members questions about what it takes to serve on the board, why board members devote so much time to our industry, and how you could contribute. Reach out to fellow members and encourage them to run for a board seat. Then, be sure to attend the “State of the RDIA” webinar that we’ll be holding for members in a couple of weeks.

The four major roles of RDIA and associations in general are:

  1. member education and benefits,
  2. research and statistics,
  3. standardization, and
  4. lobbying.

On a more basic, or perhaps human, level, an association is a group of people who find strength in numbers while sharing a common interest. According to ASAE (the American Society of Association Executives), associations are founded on democracy, volunteerism, and common interest that are the heart of the American experience.

When we work together, big and small, we strengthen our own industry while advancing society. Our industry needs leaders, and this year is a great time to lead the future of the association.

Mandi Meidlinger
Jillian’s Drawers
Chair, Real Diaper Industry Association