Archive for the ‘computer stuff’ Category

The MISSING Toastmasters Club Central manual!

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

questionsAre you still puzzled by Club Central, how to enter new members, educational awards, new officer lists? Debbie Head Hardy from D43 has written the MISSING Club Central manual, it’s AWESOME! Download it here and share it with your fellow Toastmasters:

http://mikeraffety.com/ClubCentral.pdf

And a French version here:

http://mikeraffety.com/ClubCentral-fr.pdf

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Are rural Toastmasters clubs at a disadvantage?

Friday, September 20th, 2013

CowIt’s an often repeated claim that rural Toastmasters clubs have trouble getting members and growing and thriving.  Is it true?  I put the question to the test, using U.S. clubs, 2012-13 DCP performance, their meeting place ZIP codes, and U.S. census data.

First, I grouped U.S. clubs into four buckets based on the population of the ZIP code that they meet in.  This gave me some reasonably equal-sized categories to look at.  Then I looked at club size and Distinguished Club Program (DCP) performance in each of those categories:

Size Pop in ZIP # clubs Active mem % disting
Rural <10,000 people 1,265 18.7 43.9%
Town 10-20,000 people 1,623 18.3 44.6%
City 20-40,000 people 3,493 18.7 49.0%
Big City >40,000 people 1,459 19.2 51.3%

Clubs in big cities do tend to be a little larger, a half member more, and are somewhat more likely to be distinguished.

(Sorry, mapping clubs to postal codes and census data tracts is more difficult or even impossible in other countries, I have no data available for them.)

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Toastmasters at a glance: 2013 infographic

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

InfographicThumbnailI’ve seen lots of interesting infographics from other organizations, but never one for Toastmasters, so I created my own, a 24″x36″ poster, and had 1,000 copies printed to hand out at the convention this month.  They were quite popular, all given away in just three evenings, almost all just one at a time.  Some people even asked me to autograph them!

Since it can be a little hard to print something that size on your printer at home (or even at work), I’ve also put the same content into a 9-page document formatted for regular paper.

Share this with your clubs and district, to help our members understand there’s much MUCH more to Toastmasters.

Full-size poster

9-page regular paper

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Districts with NO club loss?

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

We make a big deal about districts that build 30-40 or more new clubs in a year, but what about districts that lost zero clubs?  I think that’s a pretty amazing accomplishment.  And in 2010-11, we had just one district achieve that — D49 (Hawaii).  They started the year with 64 clubs, added one new club in October 2010, and renewed every single one of those 65 clubs, 100% retention!

The year before (2009-10), just one district did it as well, D33 (central California and southern Nevada), but they lost 4 clubs this year.  (Here is my post on this topic a year ago.)

What’s rather interesting is that of the three districts presented with the President’s Extension award last month (August 2011) in Las Vegas (for the largest net club increase), they had some rather dismal retention rates.  They were closing clubs in large numbers.  The full report is here: http://mikeraffety.com/NoClubLoss.html.

(more…)

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Lots of small clubs in your district?

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

Global club size chartDoes your district have a lot of small clubs?  Over the last few years, is the number growing (bad), or are the small clubs getting bigger (good)?

Here’s some interesting graphs about TI membership world-wide, and also of each district:
http://mikeraffety.com/ClubSize/
(Be sure to click on your district number for local details.)

Fortunately, the number of clubs with 20+ members seems to be growing each year, though not in all districts, and the average number of members per club has edged upwards as well, from 19.3 in June 2006 to 20.0 in June 2010.

How does D71 (Britain and Ireland) manage to have less than 6% of their clubs at 0-12 members, what’s the secret to their success?  D46 (New York area) and D85 (China) aren’t far behind, so it’s not just a matter of being overseas.

The Distinguished Club Program (DCP) has an interesting effect on membership; when graphing clubs by size in a histogram, there’s a sharp increase at the 20-member threshold.  While there’s just 247 clubs at 19 members (on June 30, 2010, worldwide), there’s 1,362 at 20 members.

There’s a lot of clubs eligible for club coaches, 23% globally as of June 2010.  I’ll be talking more about club coaches in my next blog entry.  So many districts don’t take advantage of this very effective program!

Feedback is appreciated!

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Extreme Toastmasters facts

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Wow!How many CCs could a club earn in one year?  Would you believe twenty?  Yes, in 2009-10, 3949-Twintech in Malaysia filed 20 CC awards in 12 months.  13 of them were filed on January 1, 2010, oddly — club special event?  There were 15 other clubs that earned 10 or more CCs as well.  On the flip side, 4,069 clubs (about one-third) earned no CC awards that year.

One club filed twelve AC awards last year, 987486-SKIT Club in India.  9 other clubs filed at least 8 or more, but 6,479 (about half) filed no AC awards at all.

How about leadership awards?  Two clubs filed 28 CL/AL/DTM awards each!  They are 8734-Humana Speaks Up in Kentucky, and 2284-St. Petersburg in Florida.  38 other clubs earned 10 or more leadership awards; 6,014 (about half) filed none.

8833-NUS Toastmasters in Singapore has 196 members as of early October!  They ended last year with 120, having added 114 over the year, and they’ve signed up 86 more since July 1.  Imagine what those club meetings must be like!  That club also holds the record for adding the most members (114) in 2009-10.  357-Toastmasters Club Of Singapore (founded in 1967) has 119 members now, another huge club.

Globally, there’s 68 clubs that have scored all ten Distinguished Club Program (DCP) goals for at least six consecutive years (older records are not available on-line).  Truly an incredible accomplishment!

The largest district in the current year is D79 (Middle East) with 317 active clubs as of early October (76 areas in 17 divisions!), followed by D14 (Georgia) at 289 clubs.  D68 (mostly Louisiana) has just 53 clubs.

Three districts have been distinguished for at least the last six years, D59 (continental Europe), D71 (Britain and Ireland), and D79 (Middle East). D71 also has the highest average club size, 27.2 members per club (the global average for districts is 19.5), and the lowest percentage of clubs with 12 or fewer members, just 5.8% (global average is 24.2%).  D85 (China) has the most distinguished clubs, 80.2% in 2009-10!

District 33 (central California and southern Nevada) lost zero clubs in 2009-10, not one — every one of 171 clubs renewed!  And they built 12 new clubs and were distinguished!  Three other districts just lost one club each (D12, D24, D64).

What’s the highest Toastmasters club — is there one meeting at the Burj Khalifa or Taipei 101 or the Petronas Towers?  What record would your club set?  Speak up in the comments!

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Collecting membership dues

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

international moneyIt’s almost Oct. 1, how is your club collecting members’ dues? Remind members of what their dues get them!  For about $5-8 per month (a few cups of coffee), you get to:

  • attend club meetings and give speech projects in a safe place
  • learn how to give positive constructive evaluations
  • practice your leadership skills in meetings and as a club officer
  • network with fellow club members and guests
  • build confidence in your capabilities and skills
  • serve the club and its members as they practice new skills
  • receive the glossy color Toastmaster magazine
  • register your educational awards
  • attend district conferences
  • watch and participate in speech contests!

Here’s more ideas, divided up by the type of club (who pays dues):

Community clubs (individual pays, club usually has a checking account):

  1. Member writes a check to the club (requires delivering the check to the treasurer, the treasurer has to deposit the check, maybe wait for it to clear, then make a payment to TI).
  2. Member sends money to the club via Paypal from bank account or credit card, detailed instructions on setting this up are here, courtesy District 14 Toastmasters (Paypal keeps 2-3% of dues, but worth it!).
  3. Split payment; member  pays TI dues via individual credit card (which the treasurer or other club officer directly enters on the TI web site), and any local dues separately (cash or check).  This works especially well if there are no local dues to collect, or else you have to keep track of both payments.  (The first six payments of each renewal period have to be done as a single transaction though.)
  4. Collect a year’s worth of dues at a time instead of six months (the treasurer then pays six months at a time to TI at the appropriate time).  (Be sure you have a clear policy on refunds if someone wants to quit sooner; no refunds is probably the right choice here, but make sure members know that.)
  5. If your club bank account has more than a year’s worth of local dues (international dues should be treated as a pass-through, money in equals money out), consider reducing or even waiving local dues temporarily.  (Current members shouldn’t be paying for the benefit of future members.)

Company/organization club (sponsor pays):

  1. Start well in advance, a month or two, so the check is processed long before Oct. 1/April 1.
  2. TI will send you an invoice for the renewal upon request, if your company needs one.
  3. Use a company credit card for direct payment on the TI web site.
  4. Use a personal credit card to pay and file an expense report for reimbursement (make sure this is approved in advance by whomever needs to sign off on the expense report!).

Hopefully this gives you some ideas to streamline the twice-a-year process of collecting dues!  Do you have a suggestion?  Post it on the blog comments!

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How’s your district doing with the DCP?

Friday, September 24th, 2010

The new Distinguished District Program requires 40% of base clubs to be distinguished (goes into effect July 1, 2012).  How’s your district doing so far this year, 1/4 of the way through?  Here’s the answer:

http://mikeraffety.com/DDP-DCP.html

I believe I have a reasonable way to measure that success, without having to wait for April dues to post, and it’s really surprising how well districts are doing with this goal.  I’ve written a program to:

  1. Calculate the number of distinguished clubs needed for each district (40% of start-of-year club base)
  2. Identify the clubs farthest along in the DCP (most points earned to date)
  3. Add up their points (but capped at 5 points per club, since a club with 7 points doesn’t help a club with 3 points be distinguished)
  4. Divide that total points by 5 times the number of distinguished clubs needed
  5. The resulting percentage should hit 100% exactly when the district achieves the 40% distinguished clubs goal.

Except that there’s also that membership requirement for the DCP.  So I’ve counted up the number of members that those clubs (making up the 40%) are short of whatever is required for them to be distinguished (+5 or >=20 members) and show that as well.  This number isn’t terribly meaningful until April dues are posted, of course; we only lose members twice a year, April 1 and Oct. 1.

D84 (north and central Florida) is already 63% of the way there!  11 districts are at least halfway there, and almost every district (80 of 82) is over 25%.  It will be very interesting to see how these numbers evolve in the coming months!

Feedback and comments are appreciated!

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How would your district do in the new Distinguished District Program?

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

By now, most district leaders have probably heard about the new Distinguished District recognition program (DDP).  It goes into effect July 1, 2012, and basically does two things:

  1. Eliminates the competitiveness; every district can be President’s Distinguished, or Select Distinguished.  The objectives to meet those recognition levels are set for each district independently, as percentages based on the district size.
  2. Replaces the CC and AC critical success factors with Distinguished Clubs (and also eliminates the other point-accumulating goals of Distinguished Areas and leadership education awards).  Note that these education award goals are already in the Distinguished Club Program (which is unchanged), six of the ten DCP goals are education awards.

Here’s the breakdown of the new DDP goals.  The old qualifying requirements of completing and filing a District Success Plan Matrix and training at least 85% of Area and Division Governors by Sept. 30 are unchanged.

  1. Club growth (July 1 base to June 30 end of year) of 3% to be Distinguished, 5% to be Select, 8% to be President’s.  3% is the same goal as past years to be Distinguished.
  2. Membership payments growth (July 1 to June 30 as well) of 3% to be Distinguished, 5% to be Select, 8% to be President’s.  In the old program (still in effect this year and next), this goal is 2%, so this is an increase, but now it’s consistent with the club goal.
  3. Distinguished clubs (as of June 30, as a percent of the club base) of 40% to be Distinguished, 45% to be Select, 50% to be President’s.  In the old program, districts began accumulating points at the 30% threshold, topping out at 75%.

To reach any of the three recognition levels, the district must meet all three goals!  A shortfall in one goal is not made up by an excess in another goal.

How will this affect your district?  You can find out right now:  http://mikeraffety.com/NewDist.html

Here’s what you’re looking at:

Each district has one row (hover the mouse on the district number to see where it is located).  There are six groups of columns, one for each year from 2004-05 through 2009-10 (the year just completed).  In each group, you see the three goals with how the district did each year (the percentage goals from above are repeated in the column heading for easy reference).  If the goal was missed, it’s shaded in light red.

The district recognition status in the old and new programs is also listed for each year, “D”istinguished, “S”elect, “P”resident’s (or blank if not).  The ranking is also given as the small number after the letter.  Note that I invented a possible new program ranking, there is no published ranking system for the new program!  So that’s quite unofficial and subject to change.

There are also some totals down at the bottom.  If the total distinguished districts looks a little small, that’s OK, because in the past, districts didn’t focus on distinguished clubs as much.  As that becomes a factor equal in importance to clubs and membership payments, the added emphasis will bring those numbers up; people manage to the goals you set for them.  If you want to plan ahead to be distinguished in 2012-13 (and later), focus on improving DCP performance, it will take more than one year to make a significant change. (Over 80% of the clubs in D85-China were distinguished last year!)

It’s fully expected that future boards will review performance against these percentages and increase them periodically.  Hopefully, every district will reach 50% or more distinguished clubs soon, and then those thresholds can be adjusted upwards.  Remember how practically every district always hits the old AC goal, sometimes doubling or tripling it?  When a goal is reached consistently, it’s time to raise the goal, to keep stretching and getting better.

The number of consecutive years each district has been distinguished (as of 2009-10) is listed on the right (“DY”), and just three districts have been distinguished for six (or maybe more!) years: 59-Continental Europe, 71-Britain/Ireland, and 79-Middle East.  Sort of a “double Excellence in Leadership”, very impressive!

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The importance of club web sites

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

In my experience, “open” clubs (ones open to anyone interested, no membership qualifications) live or die by a good web site.  A community club lacking a good web site is missing out on guests who may become members.

Clubs have the opportunity to list an official web site as part of their directory information with Toastmasters International.  I validated those listings and for each district, produced a list of clubs where the published web site either doesn’t work, or (for open clubs) there’s no web site listed at all.

Take a look at http://mikeraffety.com/reports.html (about halfway down) — pick your district, and see what clubs have web sites listed that don’t work, or almost as bad, open clubs that have no web site at all.  Encourage those clubs to build a working web site, and I am certain that the guests will show up.

What goes into a good club web site, and frequent updates, is a whole ‘nother issue to talk about another time.

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