Heads up, users of the toastmost.org service for hosting club websites. Because relying on donations and sponsor advertising isn’t generating enough money to cover my costs, I plan to begin charging $30 per club per year at the beginning of 2020.

This fee will apply to clubs who registered their website more than a year ago, and going forward I will continue to allow a generous one-year trial period — which should be long enough for clubs to see the value.

Metrics of success I would suggest looking for when you decide whether to stick with toastmost.org or migrate away to Free Toast Host, easySpeak, or some other option:

  • Visitors praise your website when telling you how they found your club. This assumes you have published valuable, engaging content (the software doesn’t do that for you, but it should make it easier).
  • Your VPE and other officers are saving time when organizing the agenda and appreciate features like automated meeting role reminder messages.
  • You recognize the value of paying to support investments in improving the security and performance of your club website.
  • Even if you’re not taking advantage of them yet, you appreciate the availability of options for online dues payment and online submission of member applications.

If you are not achieving success with the platform, I am available to coach you to greater success. Everything on the list above is something my clubs have achieved, which is why I decided to share these resources with other clubs in the first place. Moving to a paid model will mean redoubling my commitment to making more clubs realize the value of the software and services.

Outside of toastmost.org, it is also available as free, open source software you can install on your own web server (something I’ve seen a number of corporate, university, and government agency clubs do). That can be a good option for those with the necessary budget and technical wherewithal, but toastmost.org hosting means I worry about most of the techie details.

Donations and Sponsor Advertising Still Welcome

I still hope to raise a little money through donations and sponsor advertising — see the information posted at wp4toastmasters.org/support — and I thank the handful of sponsors and advertisers who have helped out over the past few years. My own small editorial/digital consulting business will continue to contribute to the cause, operating this venture at a modest loss — I just can’t afford to allow the loss to keep growing.

Ultimately, I think it’s fairer to everybody to require a modest annual contribution than continue to lean on a few generous people and clubs.

I welcome your feedback.

David F. Carr, webmaster for toastmost.org and founder of the WordPress for Toastmasters project.

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