In 1965, after four decades of service, Dr. Ralph C. Smedley, founder of Toastmasters International, reflected on the magnitude of the organization. “I am impressed by the fact that a simple idea, put to work in so simple a manner, has grown into such an instrument for service for so many people,” he wrote in The Story of Toastmasters. “It must have met a real need.”
Since then, members’ needs have evolved due to a wide range of cultural, social and economic situations. Today, the membership exceeds 345,000, with 15,900 clubs in 142 countries. As membership continues to increase, so do the needs of the individuals we serve.
The Ralph C. Smedley Memorial Fund® (Smedley Fund) is an opportunity for you to be a part of creating solutions to meet these needs. Contributions to the Smedley Fund are restricted to educational purposes and are not used for operating or capital expenses of Toastmasters International. Disbursements from the fund are determined by the Board of Directors. Therefore, your entire gift will be stewarded to help others benefit from Toastmasters’ programs.
Imagine increasing the offering of translated materials, adapting materials for the disabled, creating contemporary content for young adults in colleges and universities, investing in new and developing markets, and building tomorrow’s leaders by focusing on youth programs. Also imagine providing hope and healing through the Toastmasters experience for those in homeless shelters or in transitional living, rehabilitation or correctional facilities, or offering support to those suffering losses due to extreme economic hardship or disasters.
As Dr. Smedley once said, “We must suit our methods to the needs. Today’s emergency may be our opportunity.”
Mohammed Murad, DTM, Toastmasters’ 2014–2015 International President, says giving to the Smedley Fund, as he did recently, can bring you great fulfillment.
“It is very satisfying to understand that this fund will be used in developing programs and making sure that the organization is going forward to fulfill the dreams and the vision of Dr. Smedley,” says Murad, of Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Contributor Types and RecognitionAs a contributor, you will help create new possibilities in the realm of communication and leadership. The more contributions are raised, the more individuals will benefit from the Toastmasters experience.
In 2017, the Smedley Fund will offer a new recognition structure that will focus on four contributor types: individual, club, corporate and legacy. All contributors who give cumulative lifetime gifts of 1,000 or more (which begins accruing in the 2016 calendar year) will be recognized in the following ways:
Individual Contributors: If your Toastmasters experience has led to improvements in your life, consider celebrating your success by contributing to the Smedley Fund. Members and non-members who contribute will receive an attractive contributor ribbon. Individuals who contribute lifetime gifts of 1,000 or more will receive a level-specific lapel pin.
Club Contributors: Toastmasters clubs may make a donation by taking up a special collection or by contributing from the club treasury. All club contributors will receive a 24-inch banner ribbon. Clubs that contribute lifetime gifts of 1,000 or more will receive a level-specific trophy.
Corporate Contributors: If your company aligns itself with the Toastmasters values of integrity, respect, service and excellence, consider a contribution to the Smedley Fund. All corporate contributors will receive an engraved plaque. Companies that contribute lifetime gifts of 1,000 or more will receive a level-specific crystal recognition piece.
Legacy Contributors: When you make a planned gift to the Smedley Fund, you demonstrate your commitment to continue Smedley’s legacy for generations to come. Planned giving involves providing a future contribution through your financial and estate plans, such as making a bequest to Toastmasters International by including language in your will or living trust, or by designating Toastmasters International as a beneficiary in your retirement plan or life insurance policy.
Other Ways to GiveHonorary Gifts: Contributors can honor an individual or occasion while also making a meaningful gift to the Smedley Fund. For example, donations can be made in recognition of another member’s service to their club, district or community. Toastmasters International will send a notice of the contribution to the honoree without disclosing the amount.
Memorial Gifts: During the holiday season, we often remember our lost loved ones and celebrate what they held dear. You can make a gift to the Smedley Fund to show how much that person’s life has meant to you. Upon request, Toastmasters International will send a notice to a surviving relative about the donation without disclosing the amount.
Recurring Gifts: Setting up a monthly, quarterly, semiannual or annual gift is an easy and convenient way to make a difference in other members’ lives year-round. For example, a monthly gift of 7.50 or a semiannual gift of 45 can help cover Toastmasters dues for a member in need.
IRA Gifts: In December 2015, the United States Congress passed a permanent tax law allowing contributors to take a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) directly from an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA) account, up to 100,000 annually, when the contributor reaches age 70½. This choice allows you to make a pre-tax contribution to the Smedley Fund, while also avoiding possible penalties if you do not take your IRA Required Minimum Distribution by year-end. Please consult your financial advisor to see if this is a good option for you.
How to Give
Would you like to give the gifts of self-expression, confidence and leadership to others this season? Click here to make an online contribution or print out a contribution form. Your gift, no matter how large or small, is an investment that will pay dividends through the personal and professional growth of individuals around the world. Gifts must be processed or postmarked no later than December 31, 2016, to count for this year-end. Toastmasters International holds a 501(c)(3) nonprofit U.S. Federal tax exemption (EIN 95-1300076), which means that your contribution may be listed as a tax deduction if you live in the United States. If you live outside the United States, please consult your tax advisor to find out if your donation is tax deductible.
Sylvia Crew-Rynski, ACS, ALB, says one of the reasons she gave to the Smedley Fund recently is to help Toastmasters who may not be able to afford membership dues. “I felt that some way I wanted to make a contribution to these individuals so that they could participate in Toastmasters,” she says.
Likewise, Hettie Allsup, DTM, says she wanted to give something back because she has benefited so much from her experience in Toastmasters. “Being a contributor,” she says, “allows me to give some of the goodness I have received to someone else.”
Jasmine Shafik is Toastmasters International's fundraising coordinator.