The Path to Chartering a New Club

I was very motivated. I had one project left to earn DTM status: co-sponsor opening a new club or mentor a challenged club. I tried Mentoring first… kept at it for 9 months, only to fail when the March 31, 2018, renewal period came around. I volunteered to help the House of Hope constituents learn valuable Toastmaster speaking and leadership skills. That failed to get traction. Next, I tried to help get a new club in Tradition (Port St. Lucie) thinking that might be a slam dunk because it was a 55+ community with lots of people who have lots of time on their hands. WRONG! None of this resulted in finishing the final project to achieve DTM. What I didn’t realize then was I was preparing myself for the real thing!

One thing led to another, the stars aligned, and thanks to Barbara Strasdas, I heard Jef Otten was talking about trying to open a new club at his place of business— O’Donnell Impact Windows. I immediately called Jef and told him I wanted to be his co-sponsor, and I was willing to do whatever it took to get the club opened ASAP. Jef was happy, I was happy, and all we had to do was to make it happen!

We had a lot of things going for us. Senior management at O’Donnell was familiar with Toastmasters and willing to subsidize membership fees for their employees. They were also willing to allow us to use their facility for the meetings. A meeting venue and a small number of guaranteed members was golden for making this happen. This meant zero startup cost for the club. Score! Considering the business was a hurricane impact window and storm protection business, the club name was a natural… High Impact Speakers!

After talking to Jef, and learning High Impact Speakers was to be the club name, I immediately secured Facebook, Twitter , Instagram and a Gmail address to match.  I ended up spending money out of pocket in the interest of providing materials to create a genuine Toastmaster Meeting environment. I set up a Meetup page, purchased a gavel & clicker, and printed many documents to support Guest Packages and meeting forms. Now all we needed to do was find 20 people to join the club!

Jef and I met on June 18th to discuss strategy.  We agreed he would be the inside “guy” and I would be the outside “gal.” We discussed club mentors, and agreed on Dorrette Keen and Estelle Nozisolt, both highly recommended by very respected and seasoned Toastmasters. Our first meeting was scheduled June 20th @ 5:30 PM.  We discovered right away the starting time was not going to work. Virtually everyone was late. We decided to make the start time 6:00 PM instead and agreed to hold meetings the 2nd & 4th Wednesday of every month. Thereafter, our job was to continue motivating people to come to meetings and sign-up for membership. It took five more meetings – until August 22nd – to sign up 20 members. We didn’t collect any money until we knew for a fact we had a genuine club. We did collect money, checks and credit card numbers when new members filled out their applications and committed to join, but we did not cash or deposit the money.

Momentum was easy. Every meeting was and continues to be such a wonderful, almost magical experience. We have a great mix of people – ages, educational backgrounds, experience – it is almost like a TED Talk presentation every meeting. Hard to explain, but it continues. This is a great group of people who have embraced the chance to enjoy the learning opportunity in a supportive environment.

Some challenges... With no club bank account until we were a club, collecting money and paying Toastmasters in order to charter was something we had to figure out. I made a decision that chartering the club was my personal goal for DTM, so I was willing to take on this part of the deal. This meant asking perfect strangers to make out their checks in my name, give me their credit card number so I could swipe it and collect the funds (I ended up eating the service charge fees) and ultimately using my personal credit card to pay Toastmasters International the Charter fee for 20 new members and the new club set up fee. This was approximately $1,500.

“Yippee! Our first meeting as an officially Chartered Club -  #7113482 High Impact Speakers ! Congratulations to everyone! Come join us!” via  Facebook

“Yippee! Our first meeting as an officially Chartered Club - #7113482 High Impact Speakers! Congratulations to everyone! Come join us!” via Facebook

Start to finish, the process took about 75 days. It would have been around 60 days but sending all the charter documents to Toastmasters was problematic. I first tried using Dropbox. They don’t accept that and don’t say so when you attempt. Only through follow-up did I learn this. Next, email size is limited when sending documents to Toastmasters International. Something else I learned through follow-up. And, for whatever reason, my 3rd attempt to send documents to TI went to their junk mail. I only learned this because during my third trial I was on the telephone with TI and asked them to confirm when they received my email, only to learn they saw the email arrive and then jump right to junk mail. I recommend submitting documents be delegated to people who are very detail oriented. Our official charter date is September 8, 2018… well beyond the August 22nd meeting we signed up our 20th member!

We are looking very forward to receiving our club banner. We learned our club is eligible for a free banner because we chartered within the window of time D47 promoted winning a free banner. Lucky us! We don’t have enough money to buy a banner, but we get one anyway! Everyone is so proud of starting up our new club. Just last week we received the official Charter Certificate from Toastmasters International for each of the initial 20 charter members.

The experience was and is rewarding. I love our new club. I love having mentors from other clubs help new members understand the process. I love the enthusiasm of the new members. It is all good. Momentum is all about people enjoying what they do. The club sponsors, mentors and new members all enjoy being part of the Toastmaster family.

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Cindy Groover, DTMComment