Did your club struggle to renew a significant number of members this past month? Are you wondering how you can avoid the same fate in March? Earlier this year our club faced this scenario after losing more than half of our members at March renewals. We needed to change our approach to avoid the same fate in October. I want to share three specific actions we've taken in the last six months at GGU Toastmasters. The results have been terrific as we renewed 70% of our membership in September, the highest renewal rate in 2.5 years.
In 2011 Langley Morning Toastmasters earned an astonishing 57 education awards with 29 members. Their secret? Assigning meeting roles in a fair rotation. Following their example, we adopted a meeting schedule at GGU. As a result, every member having spoken at least once in the last 2 months. Speakers get plenty of advance notice to prepare for their next speech and we've had fewer speech cancellations. New members immediately become active participants in our meetings as they get scheduled for roles. New members are gradually scheduled for the more challenging roles of Speech Evaluator, Table Topics Master and Toastmaster.
A few months ago I noticed a common pattern among engaged members: early on someone, often informally, mentored them providing the guidance to help them make the most of their Toastmasters experience. This club year we decided to formalize this experience and make sure every member that joined got it. Every new member who joins GGU has an experienced member assigned to be their mentor for their first three speeches. Combined with the meeting schedule our new members quickly grow into proficient Toastmasters.
Building out a strong mentorship program benefits everyone involved. For new members their mentor is their go to person for any questions they might have and an ally as they give their first speeches. For experienced members, mentorship builds personal development skills and allows them to share the knowledge they've gained.
Building strong personal connections between members helps meetings to be more fun and encourages members' attendance. We started doing happy hours after our club meetings. These provide a good opportunity to get to know your fellow club members outside of Toastmasters. Building stronger connections with your fellow club members also has positive benefits in the meeting as you're better able to provide the critical feedback and motivation they need to grow.
These actions are still a work in progress in our club but the returns so far have been encouraging. Strong membership retention begins months before your Treasurer is collecting money for dues. A member who is engaging in meetings and seeing personal growth is the easiest renewal!