Membership Building Strategies and Plans

This page has Toastmasters Club membership building strategies and plans for the Vice President Membership when planning a membership building campaign.

Every club tends to find a point where membership starts to flatline, the ceiling. These are proven ways clubs have reached beyond their ceilings. If you apply them you too could lift your club's membership to a new level.

1. Word of Mouth

  • Bring a friend meeting
  • Theme meeting - "St Patrick's day" - invite people of Irish descent
  • Letter day, say P
  • Bring someone named with P (Patricia), or a job with a P (Plumber), or a hobby with P (Para glider)
  • Contact past members - I have been encouraging clubs to call on and to write to ex members inviting them to rejoin. This is a proven way of getting people quickly because in most cases they are well known to the people involved. I have written many letters myself to former Wellington Toastmasters in the last week and a half. Handwritten notes are personal and fast as little needs to be said. They do convey a powerful message and contain the invitation to rejoin.  (from Ray Wolken)

2. Top of mind

  • Get the chairperson to ask when contacting participants of the meeting, "what is the name of the guest you will be bringing?"
  • Run table topics on "What I am doing to build membership"

3. Print

  • Flyers
  • Walk around work and hand them out, invite people to attend your club.
  • Tear tabs on notice boards
  • Business cards
  • Book markers
  • Laminated poster
  • Post it note (stamp club details on it)
  • Article for local paper
  • Brochure about your club to give prospective members

4. Challenge # Reward

  • Toastmaster contests (5 member badges, beat the clock)
  • Interclub challenge (winning club gets supper provided by other club)
  • Bucket chocolate (Members either bring a guest or $2/chocolate bar.  At end of month person who brought the most guests gets the bucket of chocolate)
  • Committee challenge (Committee member who signs up most new members, gets a bottle of wine from each of the rest of the committee)

5. Toastmasters International

  • Flyers from WHQ
  • Toastmaster magazine with contact details left in various sites
  • Speechcraft (Do you contact past speechcrafters for reunion?)
  • Club Officer training (find out what other clubs are doing)
  • Successful club modules
    - Finding new members for your club
    - Closing the sale
    - Creating the best club climate
  • Toastmasters week (March, or have it anytime!)
  • Toastmasters meet here sign

6. Use Other Organisations

  • Citizen's advice - give them your clubs details
  • Library
  • Council, (web site?)
  • Speak to Lions, Rotary, Chamber of Commerce
  • Write letters to community groups ie Church, Rd Cross Board of Trustees 
  • Toastmasters web site

7. Community activities

  • Contact local businesses direct to promote Toastmasters (use yellow pages to email business organisations)
  • Speakers bureau
  • Booth at fair, shopping mall


"He that is not a busy being born, is a busy dying"  Bob Dylan

Five Step Membership Building Plan

  1. Have something to offer
  2. Have a goal
  3. Gather your ideas
  4. Apply your ideas
  5. Review your progress

Step 1: What do we have to offer?

Does your heart throb and your joy overflow at the thought of going to Toastmasters?

OK, maybe not, but if the meeting is not enjoyable for you, how can you encourage others to attend?

Recall the improvements you have seen in others, what are they?  What are some of the benefits of Toastmasters for you personally?

Step 2: Have a Goal

It is best to know what you are aiming for.
SMART Goals; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time Bound.
A club with 30 + members has the goal of gaining 15 more members and splitting into two

A realistic target that the club is committed to - discuss it within the club. Have some educationals around your target. Set targets with time frames - have a review of progress within the club meeting.
Remember new members need mentors, and speaking time.
Make sure the club is able to provide these,
or those new members may just as quickly leave

Step 3: Gather Ideas

1 People like doing things
Can you recall being at a party and someone gives you a tea towel to dry some dishes or a knife to butter some bread?  Suddenly you are part of what is happening and you feel important.

So do the same at your club:
Give guests the icebreaker speech to prepare.
So they leave the meeting with a job.  (Plus of course a mentor to help them).

Increase attendance by adding additional roles
2 minute educationals
Table topics laugh counter

2  News media
Make contact with your local paper and provide them with articles and photos of your club. (E.g. present some books on speaking to local library, photo of youth leadership course).
Use the what's on column.
Two clubs share the cost of a classified advertisement that appears in the first issue of each month.

3  Other publicity  (repetition is the key, 3 to 5 times is usually the required number of contacts)
Voucher under windscreens at supermarket.
"Free 11 Hot tips for presentations:  Present this voucher at get your FREE tips."

  • Supermarket notice boards
  • McDonalds/KFC have community notice boards.
  • Newsletters; school, plunket
  • Community fairs
  • Library - give away bookmark with your club's details
  • Use Citizens Advice; keep them up to date on your club and Toastmasters.
  • Use Council and other free web sites.
  • 0800 People, it still works
  • Silent salesman
  • Flyers from WHQ
  • Radio contest: get speechcrafters to discuss their progress on the radio each week, with the graduation open to the public.

4 Friend Nights - Word of mouth
Have a night where people can come and see Toastmasters in action.
An information style meeting, no longer than an hour, followed by pizza.

5 Marathon night
For Toastmasters week a club is running a speech marathon night over three hours.
The public and community groups have been invited. They can come and go for as long as they like.  This is also a great idea for a newspaper article.

6 Give free membership to Community Group
Our club decided to take the communicator of the year back to the community.
We wrote to Victim Support stating, "We are noting your contribution to the community.  As your members speak to the public we wish to support you by offering you a free membership on our speechcraft course.
Guess what, we now have a new member and they speak to many community groups and acknowledge their speaking skills to Toastmasters.

7 Speechcraft
Hold these on a regular basis, then people will be aware when the next course runs. Offer free membership on course to news media.  They can then do an article on their experiences.

8 Businesses
Work with businesses that employ youth/ graduates.
Offer them communication skills.
Present a Toastmasters demonstration meeting at a work place in lunchtime.
Either to, promote a speechcraft course, or build membership in existing clubs.
Barter - trade membership in club for free use of venue.  Gives club extra members and resolves accommodation.
Don't forget many sports groups are now in reality a business and need communication skills

9 Educate
Use the two-minute educational.  Two members give two-minute educationals, (the same time that they would have in Table topics).
Have your two top guest bringers give a two-minute presentation on how they do it.
Next meeting get your top recruiters to give their two-minute educationals.

10 Steal and adapt
Look at what other clubs do that works.
Lions, Rotary, even Ronald McDonald
Take the ideas and apply them

11 Set no limits
Ask everyone to consider coming to a meeting.
Have you seen someone join and then say to you, "I never knew you were a Toastmaster"?  When I joined I said that to a few people I knew.
In another promotion someone said avoid the retirement village. We ignored their advice; firstly we got some members from there and secondly some people there promoted our club to their grandchildren.
Did you know 40% of retired people are involved in voluntary work? 
Blenheim has the 50+ club for those over the age of 50.

12 Do the basics
Guest pack
Guest book / card
Ongoing membership building
Membership is a club value we all work toward ...     

Step 4: Apply your ideas
Put your plan into action.
As a basic rule over the year apply at least five ideas.
Try three ideas that have been tested and worked in the past.
Plus two new ideas see how they work.

Step 5: Review Your Progress
Set in place a mentor team, the committee, the club or your Area Governor.
Set a date to meet with the review team and make adjustments to your plan.
And yes success is worthy of celebration.

Naumai South Taranaki Toastmasters Club 2123 used these strategies in their membership building drive: -

1.Newspaper article; advertisements in the local newspapers (Hawera Star and Daily News). Followed up the 2nd week with photograph (see below) and an advertisement. 

2. Members bring guests - (two new members signed up already from this).

3. Face to face in the Hawera Community - members out and about in the community on a Saturday morning in the town square and at supermarkets etc giving out flyers and talking to people.

4. Face to face with Hawera businesses - talking about the benefits for staff and business owners - putting up posters and leaving promotional material.

5. Posters in local shop windows and flyers on counters.

6. Flyers in mailboxes.

7. Toastmaster Magazine left in doctor and dentist waiting rooms with flyers.

8. Meeting at local high school to tell students about Toastmasters and flyers in the careers advisors office.
We have also offered the carrot of a draw for two new members to win their first six months membership back and six months free membership to the club member who signs up the most new members.

Naumai South Taranaki club members

Naumai South Taranaki Club Members with banner