The Challenge of Retaining Members

 Part two of a three-part series: 

Putting First Things First: Formulating & Applying a Member Retention Strategy

Read part one.

Conduct Research

There will always be ‘natural’ reasons why members leave — with corporate layoffs or closures, relocations, or major life changes being three obvious examples. But are there other reasons why your club loses members that you could retain? Member exit research can start to tell you why. An exit survey is easy to construct, and if you need help with that, please contact District Governor Diana Patton. Once you know why members leave, you can work toward fixing problems.

Conducting the Moments of Truth module is another effective way you can research how members feel about your club. In addition, if yours is a low-member club, you can contact James Hansen to secure a club coach who will follow a formal program to evaluate your club’s operations and help you make changes to address both member retention and membership growth. To gain further insight and practical ideas, you can attend club officer or other education sessions at the bi-annual Toastmasters Leadership Institute (TLI) trainings and at the district fall and spring conferences. You can and should contact or visit other strong clubs in the district and seek out guidance from their leaders. Getting some independent, expert opinions is a great place to start when there’s evidence a club should make some changes to retain members and otherwise enhance its effectiveness.

Engage New Members

Typically, new members are the least likely to renew. Their departure can be devastating for clubs who need new members each year to grow. Solving the problem of keeping new members may be as easy as taking three steps: 1) Get them involved. New members tend to stick with the club if they get involved in Toastmasters in meaningful ways. 2) Reach out and contact them over the phone or through personalized e-mails. 3) Learn as much as you can about them and put their talents to work. By learning a member’s name and addressing the member by name, as well as giving the member chances to take roles in meetings, you improve your chances of keeping that new member.

In addition to meeting and interacting with new members yourself, consider conducting a club party or mixer so members can interact with each other outside the rigor of a structured Toastmasters meeting. As they do so, they may find common interests and become friends. These personal relationships strengthen membership commitment and camaraderie, which is a significant benefit of the Toastmasters program for many members.

Dean Lampman

Lt. Governor Marketing

Note: This article incorporates material from multiple online sources, especially an article posted by The Center for Association Leadership.

The entire article is available as a printer-friendly PDF file.


by Jodie Sandwes