Update: Your Vote Counts!

Update: Your Vote Counts!

Improving the process of setting membership dues.

Your Vote Counts! Please vote “FOR” this proposal.

Clubs will vote on this important proposal at the Annual Business Meeting on August 24, 2007. Following is a description of the proposal. If approved, the change will become effective after the Annual Business Meeting in August, 2007: 

Proposal A: Improving the Process of Setting Dues
The current process of voting for any increase in membership dues is lengthy and cumbersome. For all of this effort, no requested increase has ever been declined. Your Board of Directors recommends that you vote “FOR” this proposal. For more information, visit www.toastmasters.org. Information about the proposal will be included with the proxies being sent to all club presidents on March 31, 2007.

Currently the amount of membership dues is designated in Toastmasters International bylaws. Changing the bylaws requires a vote by the membership – a long, difficult and costly process, as demonstrated in 2005. A member survey was conducted. Respondents overwhelmingly indicated that a more streamlined and incremental approach is needed. During its August 2006 meeting, Toastmasters’ Board of Directors drafted a proposal to move the dues amount from the bylaws and place it into policy. Policy already gives the Board the ability to set fees for new members, new clubs and reinstating clubs.

If the proposal is approved and the amount of membership dues is placed in policy, any future dues increases will be small and incremental as opposed to the larger, less-frequent increases of the past. The new proposal will also simplify the process and allow Toastmasters International to conform to standard business practices used by other professional associations. Most non-profit, professional and trade organizations include their dues structure in policy rather than in bylaws.

While most members understand the need for dues increases, they prefer to receive them incrementally as opposed to the 50 percent increase endured by members in 2005. Though there had been no increase from 1992 to 2005, members protested when eventually faced with the large increase in membership dues.

Membership dues will not necessarily be increased right away, nor will they necessarily be raised at each review. If approved, the policy will require the Board to review the issue every three years, beginning in 2009. However, no dues increase is projected in the near future.

This will benefit districts, clubs and members. With the streamlined process this proposal provides, districts will be able to focus their energy and time on providing support for their clubs and members. The smaller increases should keep dues more affordable for members. Also, with more moderate increases, the clubs should be better able to attract and retain members. Moreover, this change will allow the organization to direct its resources to develop new materials for members and clubs.

Remembering 2005
In 2005 Toastmasters International faced a crisis. The organization needed a 50 percent membership dues increase to balance its budget. It was the first increase in 13 years, and membership dues went from $36 annually to $54, sparking protests from members. World Headquarters was inundated with e-mails and phone calls. While most members understood the need for the increase, they were concerned about the dollar amount and the timing of it. World Headquarters followed up on these comments with a formal survey of members. More than 3,200 replied, and the overwhelming majority were in favor of improving the process for setting membership dues.