Every December I donate to the Smedley Fund in honor of my father and the month he died. He was a great believer that everyone should have the opportunity for some type of education. All he ever asked of me was that I do the best I can and be satisfied. And it’s something I think about all the time. Am I doing the best I can? Am I satisfied with what I’ve done, with what I’ve contributed, with how I’ve helped?
The Smedley Fund is named for Dr. Ralph C. Smedley, the founder of Toastmasters, a man who knew the importance of having communication and leadership skills; and understood that developing them shouldn’t cost a great deal of money. He felt strongly that being an effective communicator was essential for a successful career and life, and that people learned best in positive and supportive environments.
The Board established the Smedley Fund in 1965—only three days after Smedley’s death—to ensure that people continue to have access to the benefits of Toastmasters, and that the education program is valuable and relevant.
This year I’ve decided to donate now, in October, rather than December. Both my father and I have birthdays in October, and so does Toastmasters. The organization turns 99 years old on October 24 this year, and as we approach our milestone centennial, it’s a good time to consider how we can each keep the tradition going and open the doors for others.
If Toastmasters has helped you become a better communicator, given you more confidence, or opened your mind, then I encourage you to consider donating.
Smedley was adamant that Toastmasters should remain a nonprofit, and that no one should ever profit from it. When Toastmasters was incorporated, back in 1932, he even included a provision that if it ever engaged in profit making, the profits would revert to him or to his estate.
In fact, when asked what type of memorial he would like, Smedley said, simply: “The perpetuation of Toastmasters should be my memorial. I want nothing more than that and nothing less.”
Toastmasters has changed my life in more ways than I ever could have imagined, and for almost 100 years members across the globe have been changing their lives and their communities. If Toastmasters has helped you become a better communicator, given you more confidence, or opened your mind, then I encourage you to consider donating. It’s a way that members can help members.
You can read more about some of the ways that the Smedley Fund has helped, and how members, clubs, and businesses can continue the legacy, by visiting toastmasters.org/Smedley.
Morag Mathieson, DTM
2023–2024 International President
Morag Mathieson, DTM is the 2023—2024 International President of Toastmasters International. Learn more about her on the Board of Directors page.