In my travels all Toastmaster clubs share the same goals and generally have the same issues. There are however obvious differences in the nature and culture of clubs that influence their levels of success.
I identify Toastmaster Clubs in 3 levels.
These are the most successful clubs. Membership is maintained with a steady intake of new members replacing those of natural loss but gaining in overall numbers. These clubs respect member’s goals through individual programing, creating opportunities for members to progress speaking and leadership wise. They offer education on speaking, meeting procedures; Toastmasters club organisation and the responsibilities associated with being a TMI member. These are the strongest clubs, as they foster a depth in leadership from which the club is able to draw and nurture quality club executives. These are the clubs that consistently achieve Presidents Distinguished status and provide officers to all levels of District.
These clubs appear successful. They have a speaking program, which follows a set agenda and occasionally meetings are slightly varied to introduce something different, but basically it’s the “same old, same old.” These clubs are generally laid back and comfortably predictable. Members are only encouraged to advance when they want to, if they want to. This type of club ticks the boxes for an Area Directors visit, but its level of achievement at best, is Select Distinguished.
This level of club generally has the same executive team playing “musical chairs” at club officer election time. The club still gains members but will also lose members, in particular younger members, as the club tends not to provide challenges and foster or encourage leadership, new ideas or promote opportunities outside of their standard agenda. These clubs hover around the same level of members with member loss equal to member gains.
These are clubs on the brink of folding. Clubs where membership is 12 members or less with poor meeting attendance. Generally with “multi hatted and revolving door” executives nearing burn out in will and enthusiasm. Without spirit, drive and enthusiasm they fail to convert guests as there is no member buzz to attract new members.
This type of club desperately needs a club coach and an injection of new ideas and enthusiasm, without which they will continue a downward spiral.
The basic difference between the three club levels described, is a decision by club members on what type of club they want theirs to be. That is, they decide whether to be a Toastmasters club that follows the TMI Charter, or a club that only follows those protocols which make everyone feel good. In essence, a social club with a Toastmaster banner.
Level 2 type clubs need to be aware, it only takes one incident or leadership failure to cause membership bleed which may send the club into a Level 3 type situation. Upon reaching this stage it takes a lot of work to return it to a Level 1 club.
Every downward spiraling club can be restored. This requires planning, direction and will. In most cases, enabling this process needs to come from outside of the club, as the energy within the club has diminished or dissipated.
This is generally in the form of a club Coach/Mentor.
Read the articles in Rebuilding and strengthening a club in this Blog.