Managing Global Membership – One Organization’s Philosophy

ASAE and the Center’s Marketing and Membership Conference had some very useful sessions.

I found comments from Dan Rex, Deputy Executive Director and Director of Communications and Marketing for Toastmasters International to be particularly of interest.

He spoke about his organizations global growth and the philosophy that they have followed. Toastmasters “now have nearly 226,000 members in 11,500 clubs in 92 countries.”

It appears to me from the presentation that Toastmasters is following a pretty tightly controlled global strategy. For example, Toastmasters has resisted the temptation to establish offices outside of the US. All staff is based out of their California office.

Additionally, they have made the decision to provide limited customer service hours from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Pacific Time and customer service is only in English. Their policy states that “Toastmasters International does not have the World Headquarters staff resources or financial sources at this time to provide oral or written translation services. Communications sent to or sent by World Headquarters will be in English. It is understood, however, that change to policy will be considered in the future as the translation environment changes.”

Toastmasters has done only limited translation of their extensive materials driven by specific numbers of clubs in a language group. I saw Spanish, French, and Chinese transitions on their web site. Wisely, Toastmasters also tightly their trademark and copyrights with a clearly outlined policy and pro-active enforcement.

They do, however, give volunteers and prospective clubs many downloadable tools and resources to help them get started. In essence they have made membership self service through the web. And volunteers from around the world have been the key to launching new clubs and producing their growth and success.

By the way, here is a link to their 10 Tips for public speaking.

What do you think of the global membership philosophy employed by this group?

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