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Club Website Guidelines

Introduction

The District 70 website acts as an effective marketing tool for Toastmasters in NSW and the ACT. This website contains general information for Toastmasters members and for visitors, but as far as individual clubs are concerned, it does not carry any further information, except for location and contact information, as well as links to club websites. District 70 provides, then, the opportunity for interested people to enquire at a particular club. If the club website landed on is professional in look & feel, the chances of the person visiting the club and then eventually converting to a member is far greater.

As a Toastmasters Club is an independent legal entity with its own constitution and bylaws, the choice to have a club website can be made by the club Executive. Ultimate responsibility for the website lies with the club President, who is also regarded as the publisher of the website.

Toastmasters International has some basic policies and guidelines on club websites, especially relating to the use of its logo and trademarks. These TI guidelines can be found at

www.toastmasters.org/NonNavigableDocs/PolicyProtocolPDF  under Protocol 4.0.2 Websites.

As a district we cannot enforce what a Toastmasters club includes on it’s website, except to advise and bring awareness to Toastmasters International Protocol and District 70 Guidelines. If, on the other hand, a club website is to be linked to the District 70 Website, minimum standards should be expected. Indeed the whole purpose of an organisation-wide branding is to enhance the perception that Toastmasters is a professional, unified organisation.

The minimum standards for club websites should not be too difficult for the club webmaster to attain, but they should be adhered to by all clubs. This guideline outlines the minimum standards which should be strictly adhered to. There are also some suggestions included to assist club webmasters.

Minimum Standards for Club Websites

The minimum requirements for a club website are as follows:

  • Club name, meeting time, date & location
  • Current contact details – telephone number and/or email address
  • A meaningful link to District 70 Website
  • A link to Toastmasters International Website
  • Toastmasters Disclaimer (in the footer of Home Page) “The information on this website is for the sole use of Toastmasters’ members, for Toastmasters business only. It is not to be used for solicitation and distribution of non-Toastmasters material or information. All rights reserved. Toastmasters International, the Toastmasters International logo and all other Toastmasters International trademarks and copyrights are the sole property of Toastmasters International and may be used only by permission”
  • Mission of the Club
  • May not include information irrelevant to achieving the mission of the club
  • May not include information that is available on the District 70 website or the Toastmasters International Website. A link can be provided for this information.
  • Toastmasters current Branding – The Brand Portal on the Toastmasters International Website has all information and graphic elements:  www.toastmasters.org/Members/OfficerResources/VirtualBrandPortal.aspx
  • Toastmasters Logo or Wordmark
  • Correct Information – this is a legal requirement
  • Current Information – It is very important for the webmaster to maintain the website regularly

Guidelines for Club Websites

As long as the club website has the minimum requirements, they can have the look & feel they desire for their target audience. The following, non-exhaustive list may be useful and are just suggestions for clubs to consider:

  • Toastmasters Disclaimer (in the footer of every page) “The information on this website is for the sole use of                   Toastmasters’ members, for Toastmasters business only. It is not to be used for                                                             solicitation and distribution of non-Toastmasters material or information.”
  • Brief description of meeting format and Culture of Club – eg. dress code
  • Content useful for members & guests.
  • Photos of meetings and club events.
  • Meeting schedule.
  • Club newsletter.
  • Biographies & photos of club officers.
  • Building a Website      – WordPress or Google Website as per TI Guidelines.
  • FreetoastHost 2.0
  • Domain Name .org.au recommended
  • No external company to be promoted. The only exception to this is a recognition of the developer of the website or of the entity sponsoring the website.

A club website needs to cater for the needs of both club members and non-members/guests. These are two quite independent requirements. The two objectives are to promote Toastmasters to the general public and to inform members.

For non-members / guests, the website should give information about what Toastmasters and the club can do for them, such as:

The Toastmasters program will help in:

  • Developing better speaking and presentation skills
  • Learning to think quickly and clearly in an impromptu situation
  • Building strong leadership skills
  • Honing listening skills

A website provides the opportunity to give details about

  • the location of the club’s meetings
  • the meeting time and dates
  • the cost of meetings and any meal arrangements
  • the size of the club
  • the attendance at meetings
  • the club’s culture and target market, for example, business attire or casual, corporate or community

Including photos of a meeting, members and the club officers is a way of indicating the membership mix and style of a club. This is a good opportunity to sell the benefits of Toastmasters and your club in particular. The focus should be on what Toastmasters and the club can do for it’s Members. We should keep in mind, though, that the photos should preferably be professionally taken so as to create the right image. The bottom line is that as a club marketing tool, the website is there primarily to attract new members. There is a wide range of photos on the Brand Portal on the Toastmasters International Website which may be very useful for club websites.

For club members, the club website should act as a focus of all club activity. There are a number of recommended software tools which can be linked to the club website and which aid in the management of clubs and schedules. They can be found at  www.toastmasters.org/members/officerresources/clubofficerresources/software.aspx

The following are some suggestions for club websites:

  • Future meeting schedules and programs
  • Club resource material, such as educational material related to club practices
  • Club newsletters
  • A history of the club
  • A Hall of Fame of previous club officers and winners of the various speech contests and club awards
  • Promotions / flyers for club functions
  • Reports and photos of club events
  • Biographies / photographs / items of interest of the club officers and other members.

Building a Club Website

There are various ways to build a website. Toastmasters International recommends the use of FreetoastHost 2.0, but also supports WordPress and Joomla. There is no restriction on clubs to use any particular software or tool. Recommended software products and various a range of club management tools can be found at  www.toastmasters.org/members/officerresources/clubofficerresources/software.aspx

It is recommended to build a website using proper content management system. These programs come with many templates, enabling the novice user to produce good web pages with a little training and a good book. Websites built this way have a professional look, load quickly and are easy to update. Many clubs use WordPress. This is free online content management software that is easy to setup and very easy for a novice to work with.

For Australian club websites it is recommended to register a domain name of “.org.au” to satisfy legal requirements and to enhance search engine optimisation. Division Webmasters can advise on the process to register a domain name. There are a number of reputable companies offering domain name registration and hosting plans.

Once the domain name is registered, you “delegate” the name to point to the server where your website is hosted. Every website hosting server has a separate Primary Domain Name Server (DNS) and Secondary Domain Name Server. These servers translate your text based domain name – clubname.org.au, into an internet address that is used by a web browser to find the website.

In order to start up a website project, an action plan should be considered. This list might aid in getting a plan together to produce and publish a club website:

1. Planning

  • Study other club websites.
  • Decide what you would like your club website to contain.
  • Develop a structure for your website by deciding how your site will be organised into different pages. Decide with your other Club officers how the website is to function to involve your members. When considering items such as forward programs and online newsletters, decide who will update these and how it will be done.
  • Gather all the material you need and put it together in pages in a normal word processor. Review all this in the Club Executive.
  • Decide whether there is an ongoing commitment to maintain and promote the website before you invest money in the project.

2. Production

  • Research and decide on a content management system or a system off-the-shelf such as FreeToastHost 2.0, or other software.

3.Publishing

  • Obtain an ABN if the Club does not already have one.
  • Register a domain name.
  • Organise the hosting and upload all the site files. This often requires use of an ftp (file transfer protocol) program, but it is also possible with the in-built publishing facilities of some tools.

Guideline Compliance / Responsibility

Whereas the club webmaster creates content and administers the club website, ultimate responsibility for the website lies with the club President, who is also regarded as the publisher of the website. Minimum standards for Club Websites need to be adhered to. Whilst clubs do adhere to these minimum standards, they will be accessible from the District 70 Website via a link in the Find-a-Club page.

Division webmasters are able to assist with clubs and advise them on building and maintaining club websites. Division webmasters will also authorise clubs to be linked on the district website. It is their responsibility to ensure that clubs are adhering to the minimum standards on an ongoing basis and to advise them how to maintain these minimum standards.

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