The Magic Numbers for Club Coaching

by Elliotte Mao

Aclub coach is an experienced Toastmaster who coaches a club to rebuild membership and restore quality to the club environment. The goal of a coach is to help the club achieve recognition in the Distinguished Club Program.” – Toastmasters International

Who wants to be a club coach? Who needs a club coach?

8…12…20 –  These are the magic numbers to succeed in Club Coaching.

As a District Club Coach Chair, I applaud and invite any brave soul who dares to embark on this super challenging leadership role in Toastmasters. Challenging because coaches are the ones assigned to clubs-in-trouble. It has frankly been labeled “the most thankless job in Toastmasters” and yet even with that malignment, many coaches have stepped up for the position because (A) they want to help clubs-in-trouble and (B) they can help them, especially with an understanding of the cryptic numbers game.

Let’s get to the numbers….

 8 is the rock bottom number of members a club can have before it is suspended. You don’t want that to happen.  No speech contests, no access to Pathways or any of Toastmasters programs.

 12 is the headcount for a club to be eligible for a coach. And please, don’t do what a club with 13 members cleverly tried. They arranged to have a member quit in order for the club to qualify! Remember, the objective is to have the numbers go UP, not down.

 20 is the number with which clubs are chartered…considered in good standing… and hooray, the final score for the club coach to get the coveted credit or two* toward a DTM.

In this sequence we understand the journey: 8 ignites the need for a coach, 12 qualify the club for a coach, and 20 is a gold medal for the winning coach! You may be rightly suspicious that it can’t be that easy. Here’s the deal. A coach is given 6 months to 2 years to (1) get the club to a Distinguished Club status with 5 goals met, and (2) get 5 new members or have a total of 20 members*.

Why would this be a recipe for a thankless position?

I know a coach who worked very hard to get her assigned club to meet those two criteria. After 3 years, the club did achieve the 5 goals in the Distinguished Club Program but did not have the required headcount, so TI did not grant her the DTM credit. Another coach fulfilled the membership count but had a dismal DCP record. These are disheartening stories, so when COVID threw more clubs into troubled states, it became doubly hard to get anyone to be a coach. Toastmasters International decided to add an incentive to the job by offering what I called Double Double or double-dipping*.

*Traditionally the successful club coach will receive one point toward a DTM. However, in recognition of the hardships created by the pandemic for retaining members, Toastmasters International announced in 2021 that you can also earn a District leader credit (e.g. Area Director, Division Director, Top 3, etc) in addition to the Club Coach credit. For verification, you can find it in the September 2021 Issue of Toastmasters Leader Letter.

Everyone feels bad that COVID has disrupted our 90+ years of stage performance, elocution at the lectern, camaraderie among the maskless, but remember the famous quote from Albert Einstein “In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity. “

Who wants that opportunity? Who wants to be a club coach?

For those brave souls who are willing to take on this mantle, I would like to add the following precautions to this numbers game.

1) Some have been told that after 6 months of coaching, you will automatically get credit, as in the case of club mentoring or sponsoring. Not so. You have 6 months to 2 years to meet the stated criteria.

2) Some misunderstood that you simply need to get 5 new members to be in good standing. Not so. Read the fine print. The chart states a net growth of 5 new members. That means 5 plus the Base count. What is the Base count? It is “the number of paid members in the club on June 30 of the previous Toastmasters year.” The sample here shows you need to have 14 members which is calculated by 5 + Base count of 9, not the 4 current members.

3) There are Toastmasters who don’t even know what a DCP is, let alone attain 5 goals in it! The Distinguished Club Program. It is the club’s REPORT CARD. It recognizes club achievements in education, membership growth, club leadership, and club communication.

Take look at your club’s report card for example, or a club you suspect may be in trouble. These charts can be accessed on the website at

Review the Numbers! What is the Membership number to Date? The Required number? Pathways completions? Officers trained?

Even if the club holds great meetings, and the members are giving speeches, your club may still be in trouble? Is it coachable? Can membership be built back to the required or 20?

Do you still want to be a Coach?

For those who find it daunting, the numbers can still work in your favor. You have the option of going for the 5 Plus Base (14 members in the example) or the 20 Total*. Upon accomplishing Part 1 (5 DCP goals) you will win the one credit toward your DTM.  However, if you go for the GOLD: 20 members, you will win the club coach credit and District Leader credit.

Having revealed all this inside scoop about club coaching to you, I will candidly declare that the DTM credit is not guaranteed (that is why they call it thankless). At the same time, I will personally and publicly declare that the reward of helping troubled clubs IS guaranteed. In the true spirit of founder Ralph Smedley’s brand of servant leadership, I invite you to consider the challenge, especially during these uncertain times.

For more information about club, coaching go to the TI website Club Coach FAQ


Written by: Elliotte Mao, DTM4, District 101 Study Group TM #3559296 / District 4 Club Coach Chair