Phase 2: Develop Your Plan

 

When the preliminary research is complete, you are ready to begin considering how the program will operate and how it will be structured.
 


Choose Your Geographic Scope

 

There are no set rules for defining a program’s geographic service area. Some diaper banks serve particular sections of a town or city, while others serve an entire city, several towns, several counties or even a state.

In deciding on geographic scope, new programs typically weigh the following factors:

? Where potential recipient agencies are located: Existing diaper banks have found it both time- and cost-effective to recruit groups of agencies that are in the same general area.
? What area the program can afford to service: This, too, is a particularly important factor for those diaper banks that deliver the diapers, and must cover transportation expenses. Cost is also an issue for the agencies if they are picking up diapers – they will have to cover the cost of transportation and the time their staff will spend away from work.
? Where is the closest diaper bank? If there is already another diaper bank in the vicinity, can you partner with that diaper bank to expand its range?

If you are unsure of whether there is a diaper bank in your area, contact The National Diaper Bank Network at info@diaperbanknetwork.org, and we will be happy to tell you of the diaper banks we know of in your area.

 

Questions to Consider:

 
Who?

How?

Will?
 

More Resources:

 
Resource

Resource

Resource

BANKABLE IDEAS:

 
• Idea…

• Idea…

• Idea…

 


Choose Your Demographic Focus

 

A diaper bank may focus on specific populations (i.e. the elderly, homeless children, pregnant teenagers) by serving particular types of agencies (e.g., homeless shelters, childcare centers, women’s shelters). As with geography, there are no rules for choosing a demographic focus. Most choose to serve all populations and types of social service programs that help a diaper-wearing population. Others set demographic criteria that potential recipient agencies must meet.

Selecting the demographic focus may define the type of diapers or diapering supplies you distribute. Service to pregnant mothers and their infants only means that you need only infant sizes of diapers. Likewise, service to disabled children means that you need considerably larger diapers or a wider variety of sizes than you would need if you served only infants and toddlers. If you have selected a particular demographic focus, make sure that is clear to your potential donors and recipient agencies. A diaper bank focused on providing incontinence supplies for the elderly will have little use for a truckload of newborn sized diapers. Likewise, an agency serving an elderly clientele would not be well served by a diaper bank focused on providing baby supplies.

 

Questions to Consider:

 
Who?

How?

Will?
 

More Resources:

 
Resource

Resource

Resource

BANKABLE IDEAS:

 
• Idea…

• Idea…

• Idea…

 


Choose Your Organizational Model

 

Another set of issues facing new diaper banks are those involving the structure of the program. Many diaper banks affiliate with an existing not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization and operate as a project or program of that organization. This has many advantages: an affiliated diaper bank can utilize the parent organization’s structure, facilities, tax-exempt status, fundraising, and public relations capacities, and board of directors. The new diaper bank will also be able to rely on the parent organization’s established public image and credibility. This relieves a new diaper bank from having to start from scratch, and gives it more time to develop its operational aspects.

Working with a parent organization, on the other hand, can have its disadvantages. The relationship can burden a new program with administrative and policy responsibilities not directly related to its diaper distribution operations. Additionally, your diaper bank may find itself having to compete with the organization’s other projects for funding and for the board’s attention, and may have trouble developing a separate image and identity in the community.

Some diaper banks prefer instead to operate independently and apply for tax-exempt status under the IRS Code § 501(c)(3). That process is time consuming (it can take 6 months to a year for a completed application to be approved) and expensive, as it entails some dedicated legal and accounting effort to establish the processes and procedures and to fill out the application. Getting started this way typically takes significantly more time, effort, and money because a new diaper bank has to build a program and an organization at the same time.

For some, the benefits outweigh the initial costs. Independent diaper banks report enjoying freedom in designing, managing, and charting their future. Running and supporting a diaper bank is, after all, the organization’s only focus.

When considering fiscal sponsorship, consider the following questions:

? Look for a fiscal sponsor that is a good mission fit. Fiscal sponsors typically work within certain parameters. Some like arts groups while others have expertise in human services. Find one that is a good fit to your mission.
? Check out the cost of working with a fiscal sponsor. Ten percent of yearly income is common, but it might be a higher percentage for programs receiving government grants that have to be audited, and/or reimbursable grants, meaning the project must spend the money and then get reimbursed by the grantor. Fiscal sponsors may be put in the position of floating the upfront money.
? Look for active sponsorship…not just a pass through, which is illegal. In a pass through, the parent organization collects funds for the sponsored program, but provides no control or oversight over the program. An active sponsor should provide financial and programmatic oversight and may even provide educational opportunities and networking events.
? Does the sponsor follow best practices? Does it provide regular financial reports? A written contract? Check out the industry’s Comprehensive Guidelines and the Guidelines for Pre-Approved Grant Relationship Fiscal Sponsorship.

It is possible to transform an affiliated organization into an independent organization. In fact many diaper banks start as an affiliated organization and, as their operation expands, find it more beneficial to become an independent organization.

 

Questions to Consider:

 
Will the new program be run as a free-standing, independent organization, or will it function as a project of a host or parent organization?

How formal an organization will your diaper bank be?

 

More Resources:

 
For more on fiscal sponsorship: National Network of Fiscal Sponsorship

BANKABLE IDEAS:

 
• Idea…

• Idea…

• Idea…

 


Additional Decisions to Make

 

Volunteer v. Staff? Formal v. Informal? The formality/informality of the organization is a continuum.

On one extreme are formal organizations, which

? Are operated by full-time, paid professionals, perhaps with a complement of volunteers
? Are located in a commercial facility and utilize standard commercial office equipment and supplies
? Work under the authority of a board of directors
? Operate with an established budget, which is supported through a fund raising strategy
? Have obtained tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) organization granted by the IRS

At the other extreme, low-structure programs:

? Are run largely or completely run by volunteer staff
? Operate out a residence, or a social service, religious or community center
? Operate without a formal budget, soliciting supplies and equipment donations and making purchases on an “as needed” basis–often with money collected by ad hoc fund-raising efforts
? Use personal vehicles to pick up and deliver diapers
? Operate without Internal Revenue Service tax-exempt status

An organization may obtain formal IRS tax-exempt status while operated by a volunteer staff. Likewise, an organization may be a sponsored project of a fiscal sponsor while having a professional staff. Diaper banks should choose the level of formality that matches their organization and resources.

We do recommend, if you are planning on raising money for your diaper bank, that you either apply for IRS tax-exempt status or work with a tax-exempt fiscal sponsor. For many donors, that status is a shorthand for a legitimate charitable organization, and they cannot deduct their donation to your diaper bank from their income tax unless you are either an independent charitable organization under IRS Code 501(c)(3) or operating under the fiscal sponsorship of one.

 

Questions to Consider:

 
Who?

How?

Will?
 

More Resources:

 
Resource

Resource

Resource

BANKABLE IDEAS:

 
• Idea…

• Idea…

• Idea…

 


Choose A Great Name

 

A name helps define a new program. The name it adopts will be the label by which its community will recognize the program and interpret its efforts. As such, new programs should carefully select a name. Pick a simple, easy-to-remember name, and make sure that no other organization or business in your community has the same or similar name. If you use the phrase “Diaper Bank” in your name, be sure to add another modifier it to distinguish it from other diaper banks. Also, if you use a geographical place in your name, describe your location accurately. Consider using a symbol or logo along with your name. An image will enhance understanding of the service your program offers.

Come up with several possibilities and “test market” them among friends, local anti-hunger programs, and potential donors. Getting outside appraisals of the proposed names will help planners choose one that is clear and carries the right message to donors and the public. This requires extra effort but, in the end, is easier than having to change the program’s name.

 

Questions to Consider:

 
Is our name limiting? Does it imply that our work is confined to helping only certain groups, or that we service only a limited geographic area, or that we will deal with only very specific kinds of diapers?

Is our name too expansive? Does it suggest that we provide services we do not?

Does the name we are considering carry any potentially offensive or sectarian connotations which might distance us from certain segments of our community?

Is the name memorable? Will it attract attention and arouse public curiosity about what we do?

Is the name similar to that of another organization that is currently operating? Is it likely to confuse potential clients and donors?
 

More Resources:

 
Resource

Resource

Resource

BANKABLE IDEAS:

 
• A good name is a good publicity tool. Public relations and marketing professionals are knowledgeable about the impact of names and logos. Ask local experts to suggest or review possible names.

• A good name helps motivate staff, donors, and agencies.

• Avoid certain words that might carry negative connotations. That includes avoiding puns or the temptation of “potty humor.”

 


Develop Your Diaper Bank Program

 

This section of the manual is currently being revised: please write to us at info@diaperbanknetwork.org to receive technical assistance.

 

Questions to Consider:

 
Who?

How?

Will?
 

More Resources:

 
Resource

Resource

Resource

BANKABLE IDEAS:

 
• Idea…

• Idea…

• Idea…

 


Create a Budget

 

This section of the manual is currently being revised: please write to us at info@diaperbanknetwork.org to receive technical assistance.
 

Questions to Consider:

 
Who?

How?

Will?
 

More Resources:

 
Resource

Resource

Resource

BANKABLE IDEAS:

 
• Idea…

• Idea…

• Idea…

 


Providing Cloth Diapers

 

ANY consistent supply of diapers—cloth or disposable—gives a mother a sense of accomplishment and alleviates her stress as diaper need diminishes.

NDBN’s mission is to ensure that all babies have an adequate supply of diapers. Making cloth diapers available supports this mission significantly. All of the benefits of using cloth diapers are realized when any of our families can choose cloth. At the same time, shifting some distribution to cloth allows for better more families using disposable diapers to access an adequate supply of diapers.

While cloth diapering is not a good fit for everyone, it can provide a cost effective way to diaper children. However, the cost of start up for cloth diapering can be overwhelming. Therefore, NDBN cloth diaper programs provide cloth diapers and education to interested families who qualify to help alleviate the cost burden and also the stress associated with worry over affording disposable diapers. These programs offer a diaper loan service, and the diapers are returned once the child no longer needs them.
 

NDBN recommends that diaper banks maintain cloth diaper programs as follows:

 

Some NDBN diaper banks work with other local agencies to identify local low-income families who may be a good fit for their cloth diapering program. NDBN recommends that cloth diaper programs provide cloth diaper kits that include everything the family will need to start with cloth diapers; educational training on use and care of cloth diapers; and follow-up support.

A starter “stash” may be comprised of:

12-18 prefold cloth diaper inserts

3-5 waterproof covers

1 wetbag

1 laundry detergent appropriate for cloth diapers

NDBN cloth diaper programs provide educational training on how to best use cloth diapers as well as how to wash and maintain the diapers.

NDBN cloth diaper programs follow up with program participants, either weekly or monthly, to make sure care givers are succeeding with cloth diapers, and offer additional tips and support.

 

Questions to Consider:

 
Who is available in my community to educate and support the diaper bank clients that are new to cloth diapers?

Can we create a cloth diaper program through an existing or a new partner agency?

Will we proactively promote our cloth diaper program or have it available to clients who inquire on their own?
 

More Resources:

 
NDBN Cloth Diaper Programs-At-a-Glance

Cotton Babies’ Share the Love & NDBN

The Rebecca Cloth Diaper Closet Foundation & NDBN

BANKABLE IDEAS:

 
• Benefits beyond the family in need: By receiving cloth diaper donations and utilizing cloth-diapering parents as educators and volunteers, cloth diaper banks tap into a community of families that may not otherwise engage with poor and low income families. It creates a mixed income community that shares the values of making children’s needs a priority.

• NDBN Cloth Diaper Programs: There are many ways and means through which NDBN diaper banks offer cloth diapers, ranging from pro-active cloth education and training programs to simply accepting cloth diapers and having them available to clients who ask about cloth.

• Cloth diapering can indeed provide a cost effective way to diaper children. However, the cost of start up for cloth diapering can put this option out of reach for low income families. NDBN diaper banks are helping an increasing number of families use cloth diapers. ANY supply of diapers—cloth or disposable—alleviates diaper need, and NDBN does not advocate one over the other.

 


Providing Adult Diapers

 

This section of the manual is currently being revised: please write to us at info@diaperbanknetwork.org to receive technical assistance.

 

Questions to Consider:

 
Who?

How?

Will?
 

More Resources:

 
Resource

Resource

Resource

BANKABLE IDEAS:

 
• Idea…

• Idea…

• Idea…

 


Providing Basic Needs Beyond Diapers

 

This section of the manual is currently being revised: please write to us at info@diaperbanknetwork.org to receive technical assistance.

 

Questions to Consider:

 
Who?

How?

Will?
 

More Resources:

 
Resource

Resource

Resource

BANKABLE IDEAS:

 
• Idea…

• Idea…

• Idea…

 



Creative Commons License“So You Want to Start A Diaper Bank?” by The National Diaper Bank Network is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at info@diaperbanknetwork.org.

When diaper banks provide one of a baby’s basic needs, we help moms succeed.