WA Membership disaster

Yes, the WA membership figures for 2008/09 are a disaster

I have prepared a full analysis which you can survey with gloomy understanding at the disaster page

What does the page of figures deal with?

This is an analysis of the membership situation in WA Clubs, Areas and Divisions, current to the latest figures from Toastmasters International on June 12

The brutal truth is that the year has really been a membership disaster.

Our credibility in the push for District WA has been damaged. Mike Helm and David Nicholas (sorry, that’s me) have propped up the membership figures in Innercity and Perth Divisions with 4 new clubs – shown in green on the page. That is why their overall Division figures are not as bad as Western.

How does this analysis help in any way?

OK. So, perhaps it is a disaster. Why don’t we hide our heads in shame and think of other things. We only have 3 weeks left for this year, so there is unlikely to be much significant change by June 30.

No! No! No! Let’s learn from it and do something about it in the new year. The page is aimed at our incoming Division and Area Governors.

Start planning now to be successful in 12 months time

This year is as good as over. There is no value in crying over spilt milk. Learn and act.

Make 2009/10 our best year ever

Come to District Officer Training
It’s on Saturday June 27. Apply what you learn
Attend both Club Officer Training sessions
They are on July 11 in Subiaco and July 16 in Fremantle. Make contact with your Club Officers
Hold regular Council Meetings
Make them at least every 3 months, starting in August
Identify strong and weak clubs in your Area or Division
Get the latest figures at the DCP report on this website
Work with the strong clubs to build up the CC and AC awards. Work with the weak clubs to strengthen their membership
Get help to go +1 with a new Club
Contact the District Lt Governor Marketing, Mark Richards, and the WA New Clubs Coordinator, David Nicholas

What do you think now you have looked at the disaster page? Is the analysis too extreme?
Is there a more favorable view of the raw figures?
What about the suggested program for the new year?
Have you an alternative plan?

Have your say. Add your contribution below.

David Nicholas DTM
WA New Clubs Coordinator
Western Division Governor 2009/10

10 Responses to “WA Membership disaster”

  1. Avatar for Mike Helm Mike Helm says:

    David, whatever happened to commend, recommend, commend?

    However, I agree an 8 per cent drop at this point should make us sit up and take notice but hopefully the numbers will increase as clubs focus in the next few weeks on finalising their DCP goals. Central Communicators, for instance, will be entering half a dozen members. I suggest Division and Area Governors ask clubs to make a special effort to enter new members by June 30th and onwards to August when the Toastmasters Board of Directors will be assessing WA’s claim for District status.

    Two ideas I have for next year are to ensure that there is at least one experienced and committed Toastmaster in each club playing a mentoring role to ensure clubs are growing and providing a good service to members (this could earn a High Performance Leadership qualification), and secondly a state-based Distinhuished Club Program coach to work with Area and Division Governors and assist clubs to achieve DCP status. Food for thought!

    • Avatar for Ian Pickens Ian Pickens says:

      I believe this year will be one of our most challenging. As unemlpoyment figures rise volunteer organisations collectively are the first to be affected. If it costs money it will seriously be considered in the overall budget.

      I also believe people walk away from TM because of club internal issues. issues such as over assertive members, lack of energy or fun in the meetings, lack of direction or goal setting and lack of or incorrect guidance. And with diminishing membership numbers pressure to perform.
      It would be interesting to collect a fact sheet to identify our potential membership loss agendas.
      This year I suggest club committees sit down and record what works well in their club, then work hard on that positive. work equally as hard to overcome the negatives.

      I totally support each club having one or more experienced members who act as a mentor and club coach. I feel too little is used of the experienced, many of whom do not want to put the toe in the water, “been there done that”. When they do stand up it seems to be all left to them or they at least feel the responsibility.

      As a leadership and training organisation we can be far more effective in the way we train our leaders and set achievable targets.
      We can be far more effective in the way we maintain the interest of members.
      We can be far more effective in the way we encourage club and higher level leadership.

      On July 1 we will have 3 new Division Governors, 13 new Area Governors, 50 New Presidents. If we train, mentor, and support them well, a lot of the challenges will be cast aside. DOT, COT, and leadership forums will go a long way toward filling any knowledge gaps.

    • Avatar for David Nicholas David Nicholas says:


      I like your idea of a state based DCP monitor. The person would need to work closely with Bruce Hill, the District Lt Governor Education and Training. The person would need to work closely also with our 3 Division Governors and our many Area Governors. On my DCP section I provide plenty of current data to be used for this purpose.

      I am dubious about the idea of there being a senior member in each club keeping it up to the mark. From my experience, best is to have a few energetic experienced members on the club executive helping, guiding and training the energetic less experienced other club officers.

  2. Avatar for Andrew Bolotin Andrew Bolotin says:

    As any experienced Governor will tell you, it is actually the number of members, not clubs, that is most important. All that’s happening here (and I agree more with David than not) is that some of the problems of being a District – not three Divisions – have suddenly become statistically apparent.

    We really need to take a deep breath here and stop focussing (just for a moment) on starting new clubs and begin to concentrate on the PROCESS that will create the next 10 clubs, and the next 10 and the next 10..

    As it happens, I have some ideas I’d like to share in an appropriate forum, perhaps a meeting of the WA Governors Club in the near future. These ideas echo to some degree Ian’s observations, but work more towards club extension and retention methodology. And, as Mike suggests, the figures might improve in the next 3 weeks, but that’s hardly the point.

    We all wanted to be a District, let’s clearly understand that means we’re going to have to take responsibility for our own destiny – and it’s only going to get harder from here. The “easy part” happened at Hahndorf!

  3. Avatar for Mark Richards Mark Richards says:

    I think that Ian has got it right when he mentions that membership in some clubs has diminished because of a lack of a few vitally important points such as energy and fun.
    Clubs need to be honest with themselves and take a seriously good look at the way their meeting are being run. To keep your membership above the 25 mark (you need more than 20 because you will always have a few each meeting that can’t attend) the meetings need to be sharp (1 to 1&half hours long) member focused (at least 3 project speeches) and most of all, a pleasure to be at. Cut out all of the dull and boring parts of the meeting.
    If we can show our Area and Division Governors how a meeting agenda should be put together, they can then pass this information on to our struggling clubs.
    News of a good, fun club will spread quickly.

    Mark Richards
    District 73 LGM Elect 2009/10

  4. Avatar for Judith Allen Judith Allen says:

    I agree with Mark about the importance of fun and vibrant meetings, but wonder which “dull and boring parts” should be left out. I trust he doesn’t include the roles of Um/Er counter, Grammarian etc which need to be included for CL achievement, the formal induction of new members, and the occasional business session in this category. These are integral parts of TM meetings. The sample meeting agenda in the Competent Communicator Manual covers it all.

    • Avatar for David Nicholas David Nicholas says:


      Fortunately the Ah-Counter is not compulsory for the CL. It only occurs once in the Project Matrix on p.76 of the Manual. It is one of 4 roles, of which 3 are required to complete the Project. So it is possible to fill the requirements without ever handling the Ah-Counter.

      My opinion is that the Ah-Counter is not only unnecessary in an effective Club Agenda, but that it is counter productive. It focusses attention on errors, and is often presented as a “Naughty, naughty!” report. We should be focussing on improving speaking skills, not identifying failures.

      I know that it is recommended in various places in Toastmaster Manuals. To me, this is a hangover from earlier days. I hope that it is eventually dropped, as revisions occur.

  5. Avatar for Mike Helm Mike Helm says:

    I agree also that meetings should be enjoyable and vibrant and that club committee should be more success oriented – but it won’t happen because we say it should. How do we get to the point where all club committees are focussed on building successful clubs and have the know-how and skills? Club Officer Training is a start but how successful is club officer training in achieving this result? Can it be improved? Any organisation which is trying to build up the skills of its operational units doesn’t have a half-hour chat twice a year and expect that will do the trick. Our club officers need on-going training, a regular flow of information, mentoring, on-going monitoring, support and leadership, and sometimes some tough action. Do we as a potential District have what it takes?

    I’m grateful that David has brought to our attention the decline in membership. I don’t feel we can be indifferent to this. When the Board of Directors considers our proposal for a WA District in August and our numbers have dropped 8 per cent this year, that won’t help our case. All the bloggers on this issue are current or past or incoming Division Governors or above. Do we as a group feel any need or responsibility to see what we can do to encourage clubs to add those few extra members?

  6. Avatar for Michael Foster Michael Foster says:

    Hi David,
    Thanks for taking the time to compile the figures. Statistics like these are a great indicator of the health of our membership.
    This Toastmasters year, I performed the role of the VPE within my club. As much as I enjoyed the role, the weekly struggle that I had was through the year to December, there was a noticeable dip in membership numbers. Many of the executive members being unable to commit, due to extenuating circumstances, which only compounded the membership issue.
    At the start of my tenure, I rolled out the DCP program, had a master strategy in place, but failed to recognise that people within the club did not share my ultimate vision. As the membership started to head south, I, as VPE struggled to fulfil experienced club roles (evaluations etc). At the start of the calendar year, we were at our lowest point, and all of a sudden, our membership started to pick up. At the last meeting, we were near filling the hall.
    So what has changed? We had maintained our website, posted on inmycommunity, and kept talking up Toastmasters to our colleagues. The other thing that we did was to ease off on focussing the group on meeting targets. We started to focus mixing up the night with experienced versus newer members of the club (I sure that this is not new, but it certainly worked for us). In addition, one of our founding members never gave up hope, that one day this decline would turn around, she was right.
    My next role within the club is Club President, which places me in a position to learn from the past year. I understand at the Division level there will be a plan, a vision, goals, and clear direction for the Areas and Clubs, however, we must be mindful to balance the commitments and aspirations with the needs and wants of the members of our club.
    On reflection, some of the ways that I tried to implement the DCP was not ideal. Maybe it was because we initially aimed to high, did not educate our members of the benefits of the DCP or pushed to hard, but in the end, our completion rate on the DCP was not good.
    This year for my club, I am going to focus on rebuilding. The first thing that needs to be done is a facilitate discussion about what the membership want from the club. Collaboratively agree on commitment to the DCP, review the higher level goals of the Division, and work out how we as club are able to support and contribute to these goals, and finally my primary focus will be to bind our executive, so we are working as a cohesive team, and not in title only.
    In summary, I am committed to stabilising our membership, hearing what the club members want, assisting the greater Toastmasters community achieving their goals, and most of all endeavour not to repeat the mistakes of the past. I look forward to see the figures this time next year, when we will see a stemming of the exodus from such a great organisation.

    Michael Foster, CC
    Mandjar Speakers

  7. Avatar for Andrew Bolotin Andrew Bolotin says:

    One of the issues that everyone seems to be concerned about is how to improve club meetings. I agree again with Mike in terms of training and also with Michael in how a program may look great on paper and yet be actually counter-productive in “real life”.

    Again I will return to the fact the only requirement to create a new club is to have 20 financial members of which 17 must be new members. The reason for 20 is that is the minimum number of attendees to fulfill a Toastmasters agenda in a community club. On the other hand, there is a special magic when clubs have more than 30 members – just ask anyone who belongs to such a club.

    So once more the secret to productive (and fun) meetings is having enough members in the first place to make the whole thing work! No matter how motivated, dedicated or faithful a handful of members may be, they will NEVER match a roomful of Toastmasters.

    Perhaps we ought to consider further clubs requiring 30, rather than 20 members at the time of Chartering?

    Incidentally because Toastmaster clubs are so absurdly easy to join (and leave), I have always been an advocate of a non-refundable joining fee of at least $100 whenever someone joins any club. Let’s stop underselling the value of what we do because perception of value is why people join and leave!

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