Toastmasters Organization and Structure
Toastmasters has in excess of 200,000 members scattered across 10,000+
chapters in quite a few countries in the world. Large companies of comparable
scale require solid structure to work effectively. While not a commercial
organization, Toastmasters is no different in the need for structure to make
it's formula work. Toastmasters has an International World headquarters based
in southern California with a paid staff to help coordinate logistics
(i.e. providing educational supplies, tracking members, etc.) across the world-wide
organization. All other organizational efforts are done by non-paid volunteer members.
The organization most members are intimately familiar with is the local club or
chapter. These operate fairly independently as most community-based organizations do.
Beyond the club the Toastmasters organization is sub-divided geographically with each
successively higher level encompassing broader geography. The next higher level beyond a
local chapter / club is an "Area", the next higher a "Division" and the next higher a
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
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
Competent Communicators (CC's) in the
various clubs." If an Area meets or exceeds all its goals, its Area Governor is
recognized for hard work in 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
Divisions have Division Speech Contests a couple 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 due to the large size of it's population and number of
local clubs. 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 Fall 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, and promote
the earning of Competent Communicator awards
(CC's) and Advanced Communicator awards (AC's) among key goals.
Districts have speech contests a couple times a year, as the Division winners come together
at the District Conferences to compete for the District crowns.
Hmmm, this is beginning to sound complicated
Perhaps, though it ensures:
- having enough offices to fill that provide members an opportunity to serve in a higher
level leadership capacity (one of the Toastmaster educational tracks), and
- having enough depth of officers to help local clubs facing various problems like low membership.
Let's look at Westside Toastmasters as an example to illustrate the organization:
Amanda as a typical member belongs to Westside Toastmasters (Club #638). Westside
Toastmasters belongs to Area 1, Division B, District 1. Area 1 is in the city of
Santa Monica, California with five clubs. Division B, the next level up has Areas 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5
within it which in the aggregate correspond approximately to what locals know of geographically
as West Los Angeles. District 1 is approximately the western half of the full city of
Los Angeles with downtown Los Angeles as the eastern boundary, Long Beach as the southern
boundary, the Pacific Ocean as the western boundary, and the Santa Monica Mountains as
the northern boundary. Go to About District 1
for a brief overview of the District.
Area 1 has an Area Governor who works with the Westside Toastmaster club and the other
three clubs in the Area. Division B has a Division Governor who works with all 20 to 25
clubs in his Division and with the five Area Governors under him / her. District 1 has
five Divisions and its own full set of officers comparable in function to those found at
an individual club but which serve all clubs (100+) within the District's geographic zone.
To see how all the local clubs / chapters are divided up organizationally within District 1
go to District 1 Club Alignment.