Club offices are open to ANY member. There is no reason why a new member cannot run for President without serving in any other club office.
What leadership opportunities are open to me OUTSIDE the club?
You can serve as Area Governor, Division Governor, District Secretary, District Treasurer, District Public Relations Officer, District Lieutenant Governor Marketing, District Lieutenant Governor Education and Training, District Governor, International Director, International Vice-President, or International President. To explain what all these mean, you need to know more about each level.
What is an Area?
Clubs are grouped into Areas of three to eight Clubs. Each Area has its own Area Governor, a member of one of the clubs appointed by the District Governor to serve the Area. Area Governors are usually, but not always, members of a club in the Area they are responsible for.
Areas have Area Speech Contests several times a year, with winners from the Club levels going on to the Area Contest.
The winner of the Area Contest goes on to the Division.
Areas also share Area goals, determined by formulas set at World Headquarters, such as 'x number of clubs at 20 members in strength' and 'x number of CTM's in the various clubs.' If an Area meets or exceeds all its goals, its Area Governor is recognized for hard work motivating the clubs.
What is a Division?
Areas are grouped into Divisions. Divisions may be as small as one Area in size (rarely) or as have five, six, or more Areas. Each Division has its own Division Governor. Division Governors are usually members of clubs within their Division and are elected once a year at the Annual District Business Meeting. The Division Governor works with his Area Governors to motivate the clubs to high membership and to have good, effective educational programs.
Divisions have Division Speech Contests several times a year, with winners from the Areas coming together to compete. The Division winners go on to the District level.
Divisions have Division goals, just as Areas do. A good Division Governor will work with his clubs and Areas to increase membership and educational effort.
What is a District?
Districts in some cases are equivalent to 'states' and in other cases are smaller or larger. If you think of a District as 'the state organization' you won't be too far off. Districts are comprised of several Divisions. Districts are the main level of organization outside the Club; Areas and Divisions are _sub-units_ of the District.
California has several Districts because there are so many clubs there. North Carolina, on the other hand, is a single District. England and Scotland and Ireland are one District all together, and Australia and New Zealand comprise several Districts. Smaller countries with only a few clubs each are Unincorporated clubs which report directly to World Headquarters instead of to Districts.
Each District has its own set of officers, most of whom are elected at the District Spring Conference (or Autumn Conference in the Southern Hemisphere). The officers include: District Secretary, District Treasurer, District Public Relations Officer, District Lieutenant Governor Marketing, District Lieutenant Governor Education and Training, and District Governor. The last three are always elected and the first three are elected or appointed depending on local preference.
If they are appointed in your District, it's the newly elected District Governor who does the appointing.
And yes, Districts have their own District-wide goals. The various District officers work with the clubs, Areas, and
Divisions to build membership, start new clubs, promote the earning of CTM's and ATM's, and so forth.
Districts have speech contests several times a year, as the
Division winners come together at the District Conferences to compete for the District crowns.
That sounds complicated!
It is, but that's the price you pay for:
* having enough offices to fill that a lot of people get the opportunity to serve, and
* having enough officers on the spot to help out clubs that have problems (e.g. low membership).
Let's look at a made-up example to illustrate the organistion:
Joe belongs to the Wide Valley Toastmasters Club (club 19521). The Wide Valley Toastmasters club belongs to Area 4, Central Division, District 95. Area 4 is the city of Wide Valley with four clubs. The Central Division is Areas 4, 5, and 6, comprising the mid-state area. District 95 is the eastern half of the state. Area 4 has an Area Governor who works with the Wide Valley club and the other three clubs in the Area.
The Central Division has a Division Governor who works with all 12 clubs in his Division and with the three Area Governors under her. District 95 has five Divisions and its own set of officers. Joe goes to various speech contests in his Area, Division, and District and once a year represents his club at the Spring Conference to elect new officers and vote on other District policy matters.
How do I get to be a District officer?
If you want to be an Area Governor, show up at a lot of events outside your club and get to know the people around your District. Work hard within your club. Eventually, you'll be considered for appointment as an Area Governor. It doesn't hurt to ask the people who are running for District Governor to consider appointing you. If you want to be a Division Governor or other District Officer, you've usually got to run for the office. Each club in a District gets two votes and the clubs that have representatives at the Spring Conference vote and decide who'll serve for the next year. Terms always run July 1 to June 30, by the way, so elections are usually held in April or May.
Another good way to get to be a District officer is to volunteer to help a District committee. You don't get DTM credit for helping a committee or serving as a District committee chair, but you get *known* and that's usually all it takes to get asked to serve the next time around.
What levels are beyond the District?
Technically, none -- just Toastmasters International. The Districts *do* get together for *Regional* Conferences in June of each year, but the Regions are not formally constituted bodies. They're just groupings of eight or so Districts. Each Region is entitled to representation on the Board of Directors of Toastmasters International in the form of two International Directors who serve two-year terms, with one being elected each year, but it is the world body that elects these officers, not the Regions themselves. The main requirement for representing a Region is that you have residency and membership in a club in that Region. Once you are elected, however, you serve the world, not just the clubs of your Region.
At the Regional Conferences, you also find speech contests,
with the various District winners squaring off. Only one contestant goes on to the World level; the humorous speaking and evaluation contests stop at the Regional level, leaving the International Speech Contest contestants to decide the
World Championship of Public Speaking each August at the World Convention.
Regions do not have regional goals. They're not organized bodies.
What's the World Convention?
The World Convention takes place each August in a North American city. The main feature of the Conference, other that presentation of awards for effort during the preceding year, is the Annual Business Meeting, at which International officers are elected and policies are made and changed.
The clubs have the voting strength at the world level, with two votes each. Districts often wind up voting the proxies for clubs which don't make it to the Annual Business Meeting each August.
There are a dozen elections to be held each August: eight (or nine, if it's the year to elect the director from Overseas) International Directors, three Vice Presidents, and one President. As there are eight Regions (with two Directors each) and one amalgamated Overseas area (with one Director) sending Directors to the world board, necessarily there are seventeen Directors, serving two-year terms each. There is an International President and three International Vice-Presidents who serve over the whole kit and caboodle. They serve one year each.
So the Board of Directors and the President and Vice Presidents make all the decisions about dues and so forth?
Yes and no. Any proposals they wish to see adopted that constitute actual changes to the constitution and bylaws of the organization require a vote by the assembled clubs, with each club having two votes. As above, the District officers gather proxies from any clubs that aren't going to be at the annual business meeting in August.
What do I get for serving as an officer?
If you serve as a club officer, you earn credit toward an ATM. If you serve as a District officer, you earn credit toward a DTM. Service on the International level doesn't earn you anything in particular because you've usually already earned everything there is to earn by that point.
But, more importantly, you get tremendous leadership experience. With everyone a volunteer and no club HAVING to do what its District officers suggest, you have to develop powerful persuasive abilities to guide the clubs and members in the right direction.