Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! It seems strange saying it in the middle of July, but of course for us Toastmasters the new year starts on July 1st. As with the real new year starting in January, we often reflect upon our past successes and learning opportunities and think about future goals.

Targets for the year ahead

The District Leadership Team has also been thinking about our District targets and incentives for the year.

As always, the aim of the district continues to be “We build new clubs and support all clubs in achieving excellence”. The goal for the year is to become a Smedley Distinguished District for 2021/22.

We hope that the Covid pandemic is behind us, but we have been in this position on at least two previous occasions and been disappointed as it has returned with a further or extended lockdown each time. in the past 12 months, this has had caused significant decline in both the number of individual members and of clubs.

I know many of you hope that, after the current lockdown ends, many members who left in the last year because they only wanted to attend physical meetings will quickly return. I also hope that happens. But we need to remember that lockdown has lasted for 16 months. Some of the members who perhaps intended to return once physical meetings started have now developed alternative interests as the lockdown has extended way beyond what was originally expected. Others may be reluctant to return as they have underlying chronic conditions which means they are reluctant to attend physically.

However, it is not all doom and gloom. During 2020/21, District 91 managed to charter seven clubs and recruit nearly 1,900 new members. This is a tremendous achievement by both individual clubs and the District Leadership Team managed by Arnaud last year.

Open House and Incentives

To develop new clubs and increased overall membership numbers, we need to help every club in the district attract new members. I am sure you are familiar with many of the planned incentives for club growth, and these will continue, including support for Open Houses. We will be supporting Talk Up Toastmasters and the Beat the Clock membership recruitment programmes as we have done in previous years and the 1-80-100 retention programme will again run in both September and February.

To support clubs in their efforts to  recruit new members we will be running district-wide PR campaigns in September/October time, January 2022 and May 2022 to promote “Open House Months”. The idea is to encourage clubs to hold open house meetings in October 2021, January, and May 2022.

This year we are launching two new incentive programmes. The first is “Net 5 Growth”. Based on the number of members you have on 1st July 2021 and at the end of December. If your club is one of the first twenty to achieve net growth of five members then your club wins £50. The second is “Net 10 Growth”, again based on the number of members a club has 1st July. If your club is one of the first 20 to achieve net growth of ten members on 15th June 2022, the club wins £100.

The new team

As always, the Club Growth Director is helped by a dedicated team. This year, I am delighted to announce that Adrian Lane has agreed to become the new Club Extension Chair, Nadya will be the Club Quality Chair, Vaneshen Mootoosamy is the New Club Research Chair, Craig Moss and Varun Sharma have joined the Club Sponsor Committee. Jacqui Rosser and Janet Alkema have agreed to stay on as Club Retention Chair and Alignment Committee Chair.

I’m certain that you would wish them all the best of luck in their roles over the next 12 months.

Diane Richardson

District 91 Club Growth Director