If you’re a member of a struggling club with less than 12 members, you probably believe that increasing membership in your club is difficult, if not nearly impossible.
Conversely, a club that is member-strong with 25 or more will likely agree that acquiring new members is a pretty simple process. In fact, many clubs in this category spend very little time promoting their club and new members just seem to keep coming!
So, what is the difference?
The answer actually has very little to do with luck, but everything to do with the visitor.
Here are several proven tips to help you increase your membership:
- Before launching any new member campaign, improve the quality of your meetings. Getting visitors is easy! Impressing guests enough so that they come back…now that’s the challenge!
- Separate duties between the VP of Membership and VP of Public Relations. Consider the idea the the VP of PR “gets the visitors in the door” and the VP Membership converts them from being guests to members.
- Have a member create and maintain a small and simple web site for your club. It has been estimated that up to 80% of all club visitors find a club to visit through the Internet. There are many free web-hosting sites available!
- Be sure to notify Toastmasters International AND District 23 of your new website address, so it can be added to their sites.
- Register a domain name for your club and point it to your web site. (Contact the District 23 Webmaster if you have any questions about this process.)
- Put your web site address on everything promotional that you do.
- Provide a member’s name (typically the VP Public Relations), e-mail and phone number on your web site and encourage visitors to contact him or her with any questions.
- Ask your Sergeant-at-Arms to arrive 30 minutes before each meeting. Guests typically show up 15 to 20 minutes early. If no one is there, they might think the meeting was canceled.
- Ask your Sergeant-at-Arms (and other members!) to always be on the lookout for visitors and that they should always be prepared to drop everything to greet the guest.
- Ask your Sergeant-at-Arms to “partner” the guest with a member who will introduce the visitor to the group at the beginning of the meeting and be able to answer questions throughout the meeting as they arise.
- Educate the club members on how important it is that everyone shake hands with the guest before the meeting. This makes the visitor feel welcome and comfortable.
- Always offer participation in Table Topics as an “option” to guests. And, never ask a guest to participate in Table Topics until all eligible members have participated in case there is not enough time for the “paying” members to exercise their skills.
- Consider not allowing guests to join until after they’ve attended 3 consecutive meetings. That way, they’ll know if Toastmasters will fit into their work schedule.
- Ask for the guest to provide a short comment toward the end of the meeting about what they thought about the meeting. This will give you a good indication whether they are a potential member. Sometimes they’ll convince themselves to join right in the middle of their comments! Just make sure to tell the guest at the beginning of the meeting that these comments will be requested at the end so the guest is not caught off-guard.
What many people do not realize is that even the large clubs can run into trouble with membership. Usually, a dip in membership is the result of poor leadership in the club and a decline in meeting quality. Make sure you have a good product before trying to get others to buy into it and you’ll be at membership capacity in no time!
Looking for more resources? Visit the District 23 Downloads page for other ideas! …and visit our Links page… and our new Marketing Flyer Library for some great flyers to use in promoting your club!
Great Ideas for Finding New Members
These ideas for finding new members are not in any particular order. Take a moment to think about each one, and choose those that you think will work for your club, adapting them as you wish. We hope that they will help your club grow and become strong!
Have table at trade shows
Hold a Speechathon with as many speakers as possible
Think like a child – How would you get someone to play with you?
“Put in words” appeal to writers’ clubs
Toastmaster minute on radio
Interaction with story tellers’ organizations
“Do it for you” poster contest at schools
Bring your boss
When someone notices your progress, tell them why and invite them
Hold meetings at senior centers
Have new member kits
Hand out flyers and brochures
Have a host for each guest
Hand out invitation cards
Members constantly promoting and raving about Toastmasters
Meet at a good location
Explain the structure of Toastmasters
Make prospective members feel important
Have enjoyable programs
Make some meetings social events
Have a Club web page
Put posters in stores
Ask corporations and employers to sponsor or subsidize membership
Have a reward program for those who bring in new members
Create more fun
Have a variety of snacks
Invite the media
Use word of mouth
Network with coworkers, friends, and family
Follow-up on guests (send thank-you note with a reminder about the next meeting)
Have educational meetings
Have friendly meetings
Lead by example
Have incentives for those who join
Members give talks at other organizations
Provide guests with free meals
Corporate Clubs provide brochure for new employee packets
Display the trophies
Club sponsor a deserving, needy individual
Lure passers-by with free food
Advertise with a blimp at sports events (or hand out flyers)
Have a marching band spell out your club’s name
If you’re the boss, encourage your employees join
Ask the District for help
Provide child care
Hold join meetings with non-Toastmasters groups
Share your Toastmasters experience with others
- ASK your guests to join
- Get a three-meeting commitment (visit at least 3 meetings)
- Advertise in church bulletin
- When asked about your speaking skills, tell them about Toastmasters
- Tell everyone about the benefits of Toastmasters
- Have informative meetings
- Teach public speaking at voc-tech, community college, continuing education
- Wear your Toastmasters pin
- Bumper stickers
- Invite guests to your place of business to get better acquainted with them
- Attract a wide age spectrum
- Give testimonials
- Elect a dedicated VP Membership
- Hold smooth meetings
- Get experienced Toastmasters to join as dual members
- Repeatedly invite prospective members
- Practice selling Toastmasters at Club meetings
- Make it look easy
- Promote humor in speeches
- Make meetings more interactive
- Send thank you notes to guests
- Ask someone (everyone)
- Bring a guest
- Advertise in newspapers.
- Advertise on public access TV
- Sample or demonstration meetings
- Letters or personal contact with local businesses
- Contact with Chamber of Commerce
- Bookmarks inserted in library books
- Public meetings at malls, outdoors, etc
- Speech Craft
- Booth at malls, fairs, festivals etc.
- Pamphlets in doctors’ offices, hospitals, cafeterias, libraries, etc.
- Host an Open House
- Contact past members
- Hold membership drives and contests
- Warm greeting
- Guest information packet
- Guest introductions
- Encourage, but don’t force, Table Topic participation
- Ask for comments
- Clearly marked room
- Club business cards
- Distribute extra magazines in waiting rooms, etc
- Hold high-profile meetings
- Advertise at local colleges
- Have a guest speaker
- Have a special guest day
- Have a program for non-members
- Participate in community events
- Write letters to community groups
- Be active in Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.
- Publicize Club successes, elections, contests, in local newspapers
- Have a Club newsletter
- Have a club brochure
- Hold a public debate
- Never cancel a meeting
- Members should be prepared
- Have a planned agenda
- Encourage interclub visits (and banner raids!)
- Form/join a Speakers’ Bureau
- Mention Toastmasters at meetings of other organizations during announcements
- Send newsletter to guests
- Visitor Day – each member sends out 10 invitations
- Talk up Toastmasters to those who express problems with public speaking
- Make it FUN
- Hold public workshops