Sustaining New Clubs

Nepal is on a roll. 14 clubs have opened this term. Another 4 clubs are in the pipeline just about ready to send their charter fee. At Division A, with 18 base clubs, many tongues are wagging. Is it too many? Will the new clubs survive? Will the quality be maintained? 

The work starts ahead of the opening of a club. We carefully select which clubs to open. The hard work put in by our team in the past couple of years has borne fruit. There is a healthy pipeline of prospective clubs with sustainability being one of the key factors we look at before the charter. 

First and foremost, we request the interested individual or group to demonstrate their commitment by attending a few Toastmasters meetings as a guest. When they do, we work on an orientation of Toastmasters to 30+ individuals whom the group could recognize as potential members. Orientation program provides an unfailing mechanism to test the tenacity of opening a club. 

Through the orientation program 7 champions are identified who could then take the group to the second stage of applying for the club number by sending USD 125 and planning to conduct the Demo meeting. The Demo meeting always garners much excitement. It is interestingly prepared and energetically executed.  Sustainability is tested right after the demo meeting by providing a window of 6 weeks to charter the club. 

Should the champions be able to mobilize the group, get required permission (wherever necessary), and raise the fee, then the supporting group of mentors and sponsors come in to help with the charter documentation. If the group does not come together, we do not support the charter. After the charter, regular meeting is encouraged following the Division initiative to structure a 6-month meeting planner, led by Toastmaster Shaurab Lohani. This is where we are different. 

I have personally felt that new clubs need more handholding than meets the eye. Everyone is happy when a club is chartered, but the real work begins when the new club starts to meet on its own. The sponsor-mentor team support usually tends to get limited to paper and at times evaluation roles. A proper structure to guide the new club will give additional shot in the arm to the executive committee. 

The New Club Sustainability Plan provides a calendar of 24 meetings spread over 6 months suggesting what should be done with predefined roles and mentor support. It helps minimize situations of not knowing what to do and whom to approach. The plan includes members enrollment in Pathways and learning different roles of a meeting apart from how to give speeches and evaluations. It has been designed to align the club towards DCP goals. 

Should new clubs be able to see and feel for themselves how they can sustain and grow as members, they will learn to continue to renew and reinvest in themselves. 

Suman Shakya, DTM
Division A Director

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