Why we lose members – (Part 2)

Why’d They Leave?

Ballet 108

Overall, Toastmasters International has over 300,000 members, and loses and gains about one-third of that membership each year. We addressed club losses due to members’ geographic moves in a previous rant.

Two reasons members leave our club (beyond geographic changes) are: 1) We met all of their needs, or, 2) We failed to meet their needs.

Some folks come to TM for a specific purpose; “The boss said to join Toastmasters so I can make a professional-looking presentation,” or, “I’m applying for a teaching job and TM will look good on a resume for a new teacher.” Once they’ve reached their goal, they’ll likely drop out – unless we’ve made the meetings addictive for them. Not all of them will be willing to invest the time necessary, though, even if the club makes them happy. However, some of those who leave will be back.

Others leave a club because it hasn’t met their goals; perhaps they wanted to learn to close a sale or to act out their feelings (as they would in Improv Clubs). However, we shouldn’t lose those  who came to TM to overcome their fear of public speaking.

If they form friendships, feel valued and welcome and enjoy concrete leadership and speaking success they will tend to stay, while those exposed to cliques, negative attitudes and cranky complaining tend to leave. Some leave exasperated when meetings are poorly run or don’t stay on subject – or on time — or meetings that are frequently cancelled. They may also get tired of filling three or four roles for every meeting due to lack of active members.

Our clubs can never meet everyone’s needs. However, if we’re losing members because of a poor club atmosphere, poor meeting management, or lack of participants – then we aren’t doing our jobs.

This issue might be worth a whole officers’ meeting; what are we doing well and poorly that affects retention? The “Moments of Truth” program can be helpful as well.

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