Sunday, February 8, 2009

Club Constitutional Crisis on Membership Payment Looming?

In the good old days, when Toastmasters Clubs were far and few, "exclusive and elitest" for those born with the gift of the gab, membership was seen to be a privilege and club payment was like a drop in the bucket.

In many clubs, Club constitutions were then drawn to have membership payment fully paid up by end of each December for January-June period and by end of June for the July-December period to match the term of club officers.

Hence there was also plenty of time to go to the bank to buy an international bankdraft in US Dollars and send by snail or registered mail to Toastmasters International WHQ in Mission Viejo, California, USA in time for the April 1 and Oct 1 deadline for semi-annual payments.

In contrast, Toastmasters International semi-annual membership have different periods of April-September and October-March and so there was a 3 months gap.

Fast forward to present.
- TI online payment by credit card have made semi-annual payment easy and real-time.

- Today, there are many clubs all over Penang and Malaysia and Toastmasters membership is truly open to anyone from all walks of life even if improving their command of the English language is the main reason for joining Toastmasters.

- Overall, membership is more diverse and club payment is now an important factor due to different income level including members who are still students, home makers, retirees, etc.

- Membership change is at a faster rate due to job transfers or club transfers as there are many clubs and new clubs now to join.

In such an environment, there is a loophole that can be and has been exploited. In some clubs, members do not immediately pay up their club dues at the end of December or end of June as stated in their club constitutional by-laws but rather wait and delay their payments until the deadline of April 1 and October 1.

Clubs have little choice but to continue allow "errant" members to continue enjoying the club benefits like playing meeting roles, doing speech projects, taking part in speech contest and holding club offier positions.

Reason is technically although their club due payment though may be late by 3 months, technically their semi-annual membersip at TI WHQ is still current and so are members of good standing with TI.

At times, although may not be planned, just before the April or Oct deadline, a few "errant" members may decide to discontinue their Toastmasters membership for good or transfer to another club for different reasons.

Hence the club treasury chest suffers and remaining timely paying members of the club feels cheated.

One way of plugging this loophole is a simple change of the club subscription period to be the same TI semi-annual due period, April-September and October-March each year.

This has been done by some clubs already while other clubs prefer to stay the same and keep this time bomb.

My recommendation is to change now and plug the loophole rather than wait until a crisis occur and the club and members will suffer unnecessary.

The choice is left to each individual club to consider and decide. That is the Toastmasters way and I will not say I told you so.

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