Distinguished Club Program and New Club Awards

Toastmasters Distinguished Club Program and new Club Recognition awards Toastmasters 101 podcast

Let’s talk about the Distinguished Club Program (DCP) and the new Toastmasters International Club Recognition Awards.

How do you know that a club is serving its members well?

Toastmasters International created a metric to help determine the strengths of a local club. We call it the Distinguished Club Program or DCP, because we Toastmasters love our acronyms.  It’s a list of 10 goals that a club can aim for over the course of the Toastmasters year.

Some people call them the DCP points. I’m not going to argue with you. In fact, just to be fair to both sides, I’ll be interchangeable in how I refer to them. Points or goals.


What’s your goal? Do you need to learn how to be a leader or how to address a crowd to achieve change in your world? Then take a look at Toastmasters – you can learn public speaking and leadership skills in a safe and fun environment. We’re meeting online – so feel free to reach out to a local club or any club that meets at a time that’s convenient for you. This is Toastmasters 101, and I’m your host, Kim Krajci.

Distinguished Club Program Points?  Goals?

Regardless of what you call them – points or goals – the DCP has been presented at all officer training sessions every year to be sure that the club officers understand their part in achieving these goals. Most of them are related to the members completing educational awards, such as the Competent Communicator award, or a Pathways Level completion, or the Distinguished Toastmaster award.

With the retirement of the classic education awards at the end of June 2020, let’s take a look at the new DCP points for next year, think about what we need to finish up this year (and what we don’t) and examine the newly-announced Toastmasters Clubs awards for the current year.

What do you need to finish right now?

Any classic communication award that you want – do it fast. Toastmasters International has extended the leadership awards deadline till June 2021, so if you’re serving as a club coach, the pandemic isn’t going to ruin your chances to get the classic Distinguished Toastmaster award – unless you haven’t finished your communication awards.

With clubs meeting online, it is possible for you to get your speeches in – even if you’re giving it to a club on the other side of the world.

Let me digress here – have you noticed how many more invitations we’re getting to clubs around the world right now? I manage our district 10 Facebook group – I get requests for members almost weekly from members of clubs who want us to post their club meeting announcements. Right now – why not? I know some members who are interested in visiting clubs around the world – here’s their invitation! You may not get a speaker slot in these meetings, but you’re sure to meet interesting Toastmasters.

So get those speeches done. If you’re working for the DTM, then you also have a couple of other requirements – including mentoring a new member and the workshop presentations. If you haven’t finished those, you may be out of time. I don’t know how you’ll get a new member to finish 3 speeches in 21 days.

But the classic awards still have value on the Distinguished Club Program this year. If you have an Advanced Leadership Silver to wrap up and then the Distinguished Toastmaster award in 2021 – the club won’t get any credit in the DCP then. That doesn’t mean they don’t have any value – they’re valuable to you!

DCP v2.0

Let’s start with the most-misunderstood part of the DCP – the membership requirements.

It doesn’t matter how many awards your club members earn if the club membership doesn’t meet the standards. In a general sense, Toastmasters International wants all clubs to have at least 20 members.

Club membership

There are 2 DCP goals that specifically address membership: getting 4 new, dual, or reinstating members, and getting 4 more new, dual, or reinstating members. So 2 DCP points are achieved with 8 members.

But the critical number that every club must look at is the number of members on June 30th of every year. Because on July 1, that’s the new club base number.

Why is base number important? Because it determines the number of members your club must have to get any awards.

If your club has 20 members on June 30th, you’re good.

If your club had a base number of less than 20 at the beginning of the Toastmasters year – that’s July 1 of last year, then you must bring up your membership by at least 5 members by June 30th, or up to 20 members.

So if you get 5 new members in October, but they don’t renew in April, then you don’t have the base number plus 5.

But if your base was 18 last year, and you now have 20, you’re good.

If your base last year was 20 and now you have 19 – you’re not good.

Yes, it’s complicated. Short version, get 20 members. Keep 20 members.

Paper members?  No No No!

And I’m not talking about paper members that you pay for but never come.

I’ll confess, I did that one time – I paid for someone to join a club. I had hoped that by overcoming the financial barrier, she would attend the meetings. She never did and believe me, I’ll never do it again. It felt wrong and manipulative at the time.

I’m not against giving gifts to people who want the membership. Clearly, I didn’t do that.

Clubs that resort to paper members only hurt themselves. You need people in the chairs. Or in front of the cameras at home. Whatever. Our clubs need people, not fake members.

Administrative Goals

Now that the membership issue is clear – and 2 of the DCP goals, let’s talk about another pair of goals – the club officer training requirement and the administrative requirement.

The administrative requirement is so simple that I can’t believe any club can’t get it done. It’s simply reporting to Toastmasters International who the club officers are by June 30th every year, and paying at least 8 members dues on time to Toastmasters International – usually done by the treasurer. In some of the clubs I’ve been in, the treasurer has handled both of these tasks. In others, the secretary reports the new club officers’ names. It doesn’t matter who does it – the June 30th deadline is just a few days away and everyone and their brother is going to be reporting education awards – especially classic education awards! – in the next 20 days. The likelihood of the TI computer system crashing is high – so report those names right away!

Club Officer Training

Club Officer Training is probably going on in your district very soon, if it hasn’t happened already. Twice a year, every district hosts a club officer training that focuses on a variety of topics, including the DCP, Pathways, officer requirements, etc. A minimum of 4 of the club officers needs to attend both of the club officer trainings. Yes, there are 2 club officer training sessions per year – one in the summer, one in the winter. That’s because some clubs hold elections every 6 months, but it also allows for the club officers to meet with others and network.

Look, it’s best for a club to have all the club officers trained. I’ve seen some statistics that indicate clubs do better with more officers who have attended the training session. Doesn’t that make sense? When the club officers are motivated enough to attend training sessions, they’re motivated to do their work.

What is their work? To provide enough opportunities for our members to learn public speaking and leadership skills.

The Distinguished Club Program and the Member’s Goals

Let’s do the math. 50 meetings per year, 3 speaker slots per meeting equals 150 speaker slots for a year.

For the new Distinguished Club Program that starts on July 1, 2020, the other DCP goals are a set of 6 new awards based on the Pathways education program.

  • Four Level 1 awards.
  • Two Level 2 awards.
  • Two more Level 2 awards.
  • Two Level 3 awards.
  • One Level 4, Level 5, or DTM award.
  • One more Level 4, Level 5, or DTM award.

Based on my count,

  • Level 1 has 4 speeches.
  • Level 2 has 3 speeches.
  • Level 3 has 3 speeches (on average.)

So for the first 4 goals, there need to be

  • at least 16 Level 1 speeches completed,
  • 12 Level 2 speeches completed,
  • 6 Level 3 speeches for a total of 34 speeches just for 4 points in the DCP.

That’s very doable – if the members are motivated and work consistently on their projects.

The Level 4 speech requirements range from 3 to 4 speech projects – they just take longer as the assignments may take more work to prepare.

So a club could conceivably get all the speech points in the DCP with as few as 40 speech slots – but how many people would actually be winning the awards?

Look, we have to have enough slots for all members to work on their own public speaking development.

“We don’t like the Distinguished Club Program.”

The DCP has its detractors. They don’t like it – they watch people game the system and condemn the system instead of those who are cheating. They don’t like the goals. Perhaps they feel that a metric is unnecessary. Their reasons are their own.

My Opinions on the New DCP for Pathways

Overall, I like the DCP, but I have a few opinions about the current set up.

I think the administrative goal – number 10 – should be split into two parts.  It makes no sense to me that they’re together except someone wanted the list to be 10 items.

I do like that the Level 4, Level 5, and DTM awards are listed – but I don’t like that they’re grouped together. If we’ve gone through this change from the classic to the Pathways education program because we want to see more Distinguished Toastmasters awards – then we need to reward the clubs. Yes, the old program only required two competent leadership awards and one more leadership award, so this is supposed to be an improvement. I guess it is, but’s it’s not really motivating for a club to help a member achieve this high award.

I don’t get the need for ten goals. What’s the great value of ten? Why not twelve? Let’s split the DTM away from the Levels 4 and 5.

Maybe the Board of Directors was thinking about small clubs. A club with 8 or 10 or 12 members, getting 6 education awards will be possible. More might be too much, I guess.

Back in the day…

Going on what I heard back before Pathways was even named – back then when only that Toastmasters was updating their education program – I heard that the lack of completed Competent Leadership Awards and therefore the lack of Distinguished Toastmasters awards, was a driving force to combine the two tracks – communication and leadership – into one comprehensive program.

Good teachers, mothers, and some politicians know: you get more of what you reward. By building up the rewards, Toastmasters hopes to get more people to work toward the goals – completing the levels and even attaining the Distinguished Toastmaster award.

Distinguished Club Program designations

The Distinguished Club Program is a metric with built-in awards. Three levels – Distinguished, Select Distinguished, and President’s Distinguished – function as a challenge to some clubs. I was in one club that has been President’s Distinguished for over 15 years. It’s a point of pride – one former president told me that he wasn’t going to the president who screwed up the record.

Competition – even against ourselves or our past accomplishments – is a strong motivator. I know I have one last Level 3 project to finish for my home club, Cuyahoga Falls Toastmasters, to complete all of the 16 distinguished club points for the three years they were available – the classic awards and the Pathways awards. No pressure, right?

Well, yes, pressure.

That’s what a lot of clubs are feeling now – the quarantines and shelter at home and closed meeting sites – have wreaked havoc with our Toastmasters clubs.

New Club Recognition Awards

Toastmasters has decided to recognize clubs for three new accomplishments this year. Just recently announced, these new club recognition awards came late in the year, but are effectively motivating us to make some changes to rebuild or improve our marketing.

Online Ovation/Education Award

The Online Ovation/Education Award will be given to clubs that moved onto an online platform this year – 2020. Clubs that were online before January 1, 2020, are not eligible. Clubs that don’t permit online attendance aren’t eligible.

The thing I think is interesting about this is that they’ve tied it to education awards as well. Using the current DCP – classic and Pathways programs – clubs can earn either a silver award for achieving 4 education awards or they can earn the gold award with 6 education awards.

Your club has to start online attendance and get the education awards to qualify for the Online Ovation award.

Great Revival Award

The Great Revival Award is clearly a 2020-specific goal for clubs that suffered from the shut-down of onsite meetings. For clubs that didn’t have 8 dues-paying members on April 1, 2020, but have since gotten their membership back up – we have the Great Revival Award. The current list from Toastmasters International shows over 80 clubs that have qualified for this. Great work, people!

The end date for this award isn’t June 30th, 2020. It’s September 30, 2020. That gives clubs that are struggling the time to rebuild.

Membership Consistency / Resiliency Award

The final new award is the Membership Consistency / Resiliency Award. This award recognizes clubs with no net member loss – that means even if your club has lost members, you’ve gotten new members to make up for the departed members. If your club has a gain, there’s another award to recognize that growth by June 30, 2020.

Wrap it up, Kim

I said that you get more of what you reward and apparently Toastmasters believes it too. These are motivational awards. If your club might qualify for any of these, why not talk to your club president about what you can do to meet these new goals? As I record this podcast, June 30th, 2020, isn’t far away.

The Beat the Clock Membership contest is on – is your club hosting an open house to build up your membership? What are you doing to make people feel welcome in the online meeting? Do you have a guest packet like the one I talked about in the last episode of Toastmasters 101 podcast?

Toastmasters 101 is a podcast production of Toastmasters District 10. Our music is from incompetech.filmmusic.io.

When you need to find your voice to make the changes in the world you want to see – let us at Toastmasters help you!