Many club members underestimate the importance of retaining current members. There are several reasons why focusing on retaining members is critical to your club’s success. Here are a few.

Tenured members:

  • Serve as important role models for newer members.
  • Provide incentive to guests that the club has quality and experienced members that they’ll be able to learn from.
  • Prove that Toastmasters is not an overnight process but an ongoing process for continual self-improvement.

Here are several tips for how to retain
your members past the first year:

  • Recruit them to be mentors for new members.
  • Publicly award members for their educational achievements.
  • Encourage their participation as a competitor in Toastmasters contests.
  • Encourage full-length advanced manual speeches. If advanced members need to perform longer speeches to continually improve their skills, you must encourage them to do so. Maybe have an advanced manual speech day every couple of months where multiple longer speeches are expected. Be creative. But the important thing is to accommodate!
  • Encourage leadership outside the club. Suggest that your more experienced members serve the district by becoming an Area Governor or other district officer. Many seasoned Toastmasters continue as members just to help others. Serving in a district capacity does just that on an even higher level.

More Ideas for Retaining Members!

These ideas for retaining 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!

  • Send a thank you note, EVERY time somebody comes to visit!
  • Include networking tips in newsletter or new member pack. Networking is a primary reason for joining and one of the most important benefits to offer. Produce a short article or checklist on how to use these networking opportunities more effectively. Add to a meeting or convention brochure. Also could fax the list to pre-registered attendees shortly before conference.
  • Use testimonials from some members who aren’t active but still feel membership is valuable. If members feel we understand and are trying to help them cope with challenges they are more likely to renew. Ask those who are not active but continue to renew to contact other inactive members.
  • Use Jeopardy marketing putting it in the form of a question. “Wouldn’t it be great if someone were working everyday to tell the public a bout….?” Or “Wouldn’t it be nice if every month someone brought to your door another form of continuing education and a place to find out about job openings?”
  • Conduct focus groups by phone. Members with varying years of experience focusing on the needs of a small segment. New member focus group. Send all participants an agenda and set of rules. Take attendance; let everyone know who is attending. Make a list of who speaks so you know who to ask for input.
  • Give an incentive, such as a free gift, to members who renew by a certain date.
  • Have a renewal lottery – renew more quickly to get in.
  • Communicate successes to members regularly.
  • Generate segmented and targeted renewal notices. Tell each segment how membership benefited them this year.
  • Send a special certificate of thanks to first-time renewals. The first two years produce the most drops. Focus hard on the first renewal.
  • Identify and recognize members with the most tenure. Sends a message that people stay a long-time.
  • Identify at least four specific contacts to make with first year members that are above and beyond the normal. Phone, fax or special newsletter.
  • Develop a written retention plan. Incl. Retention goals (retention rate, retention rates by category, % of drops that were first year members, activities to be undertaken, resources available to help, etc.
  • Do an e-mail survey of important questions and issues as they arise.
  • Establish an involvement committee. Purpose to get members to participate in some way.
  • Involve the board in retention efforts. The health and growth of the organization is already among the board’s responsibilities. Divide the membership among the board and devise a retention system that awards points to board members for each member of their “team” during the year. i.e. 1 point if they attend a meeting, 25 points if they renew, etc., etc. Get commitment from the top volunteer leaders to not only talk about the importance of member participation and retention but also do something about it.
  • Color code correspondence so members can quickly identify types of information. Such as one for educational info., one for legislative, etc.)
  • Institute a “thank you” column in publication to recognize members for involvement and leadership.
  • Send a member profile form to new members to gain information.
  • Have a special edition of your publication focus on how your organization is helping members prepare for the next century.
  • Be sure your Web page has hot links to individual members for business referrals and networking purposes.
  • Keep experienced members active through targeted involvement. Need to keep older members and new ones interested and involved. Keep the activities meaningful.
  • Produce materials that clearly show what the company/employer gains by joining and participating in your organization.
  • For members recruited during a membership drive, add at least one extra contact during their first year of membership.
  • During functions, suggest that officers look for new members and spend time with them. Make sure new members’ nametags indicate their status.
  • Scan industry, professional, and community publications, as well as the Internet, for ads by members. Try to get them to use the association logo or some sign of affiliation.
  • Give members points when they participate in any activity. Like frequent flyer points.
  • Send an audiocassette or floppy to members as an informal annual report.
  • Establish a Member Service Center for “one stop shopping.” A central place where they can receive all information and products/services they need.
  • Offer money-back guarantees on all programs and services (including membership).
  • Establish standards for responding to members.
  • When conducting focus groups at meetings, invite attendees who are not leaders to participate.
  • Send mini-surveys that can be done quickly (via fax or email).
  • When a new member joins, e-mail congratulations from an organizational leader that same day.
  • Post results of meetings and conferences on the Internet.
  • Increase meeting attendance by featuring an interview with the meeting’s keynote speaker in the publication that comes out a month before the meeting.
  • List new members on your Web site.
  • Combine and coordinate all forms of member communication to support membership recruitment and retention efforts.
    Have a special list serve and/or special section of the Web site for first year members.
  • There are only two forms of currency that we can use to pay our members: Recognition and Tradition!! Look for any opportunity to recognize any member’s contribution. Create a Tradition in your club and recognize those that uphold that tradition.
  • Establish a member-mentoring plan. Assign new members to current members.
  • Put individual e-mail addresses of key leaders on your Web site.

…and Even More Ideas for Member Retention

  • Over the hump ceremony when the sixth speech is given
  • Induction ceremony – include sponsor
  • Be more open to new ideas
  • Comfortable meetings
  • Listen
  • Use each members specific skills
  • Be warm and smile a lot
  • Get to know each member individually
  • Use guilt – “Don’t quit or we will die!”
  • Learn to laugh
  • Foster a social, yet learning, atmosphere
  • Executives delegate to members
  • Have well-organized meetings
  • Show that you care
  • Give the members responsibility
  • Don’t pressure new members
  • Always insist on manual speeches
  • Change of pace in the meetings
  • Continuity
  • Re-invite inactive members
  • Make them feel important
  • Get them working on a goal
  • Use them as mentors Talk up the benefits of toastmasters
  • Be an audience
  • Annual award ceremony or recognition day
  • Send out postcards
  • Have an orientation meeting Partner-up members for progress
  • Encourage them to work on the leadership track
  • Ask their opinion
  • Have them write down their goals
  • Incorporate activities outside of toastmasters
  • Have refreshments
  • Car pools for older members
  • Timely meetings
  • Send lost members the club newsletter
  • Celebrate birthdays
  • Recognize achievement with trophies and ribbons
  • Post-Toasties – have informal get together after the meeting
  • Periodically do training speeches to reinforce roles
  • Talk about the next meeting and psyche them up
  • Occasionally change the meeting time and place
  • Send get-well-cards when they’re sick
  • Telephone tree – call each member before each meeting
  • Do things as a team
  • Club pays entry fees and expenses for contestants
  • Encourage members to enter contests
  • Elect strong officers
  • Have a “Terrific Toastmaster” plaque
  • Tell them you miss them
  • Design the kind of meetings your members want
  • Treat others with dignity and respect
  • Encourage growth
  • Have a mystery night
  • Non-threatening atmosphere
  • Break up the routine
  • Encourage members to achieve educational goals
  • Get them to attend a district conference
  • Use the successful club series
  • Use the better speaker series
  • Use the moments of truth
  • Plan ahead four to six weeks
  • Have a backwards meeting
  • Have a brainstorming session if you’re short a speaker
  • Positive and encouraging environment
  • Call them when they’re absent
  • Put the member on the agenda
  • Recognize each member
  • Reward achievements
  • Fun meetings
  • Theme meetings
  • Find out the individual needs of the members
  • Attend officer training
  • Have educational sessions
  • Have a strong mentoring program
  • Have guest speakers
  • Have interclub meetings (do a banner raid!)
  • Have social activities
  • Keep it fun
  • Have lively meetings
  • Allow time for everyone to participate
  • Assign rolls in advance
  • Toastmaster calls (or emails) and reminds all participants
  • Have a mix of speeches
  • Maintain regular e-mail or phone contact
  • Follow the agenda
  • Share the load
  • Annual member interest survey
  • Focus on supportive evaluations and positive feedback
  • Promote the awards program
  • Ensure that all members are active to their level of comfort
  • Get them involved
  • Praise them
  • Variety in meeting format
  • Individual name tags or place cards
  • Executives speak to members personally
  • Recognize progress
  • Make friendships
  • Senior members set good example
  • Present toastmaster pin when the icebreaker is delivered
  • Encourage commitment
  • Solve conflict promptly and fairly
  • Motivate and teach
  • Thank-you notes for special jobs
  • Give awards for attendance