How We Saved 1/3 our Costs on Weekly Recognition

Toastmasters International sells a variety of colorful satin ribbons that can be used to recognize weekly accomplishments such as being voted Best Speaker or major milestones such as giving one’s Icebreaker speech. While these ribbons are pretty, it can be expensive to regularly stock them once the cost of shipping is included. You also have to assiduously monitor your inventory level or risk running out of a particular category of ribbon.

This is why Spirited Speech Masters recently switched to using a mixture of ribbons and printed certificates to honor our members during meetings. We still use ribbons for the major milestones — joining Toastmasters, giving an Icebreaker — but weekly awards are given in the form of printed certificates.

How did we prevent this change from feeling like a disappointment?

First, we invested in a high quality, 75% cotton/25% linen paper. (Should you go this route, you may prefer to use the heavier weight of card stock.) I found a merchant who produces custom embossers with your logo to have a custom Toastmasters International stamp made. This, combined with gold and silver certificate seals gives our certificates a more polished feeling and helps compensate for the absence of the satin ribbons.

Because we print our certificates 4 to a page, the price per certificate works out as follows:

ItemPriceQuantityPrice Per
Certificate Paper$30400 (100 pages)$0.075
Certificate Seals (gold | silver)$8100$0.08
Custom Embosser$35200$0.175*
Cost per Certificate$0.33

Without considering the amortization of the custom embosser, you can compare the $0.33/certificate cost to $0.50/ribbon (before shipping costs, also amortized the more you order at a time). That’s a 34% savings with a custom embosser you can use for other paper-based Toastmaster projects (I recently used a set to seal some Open House invitations).

Here is a photo of three of the awards I designed for Spirited Speech Masters:

Best Speaker, Best Evaluator, and Best Table Topics certificates

From the photos above, you can see that I’ve included electronic signatures (blurred here for privacy). Many members may feel reluctant to sign a certificate as Vote Counter; by using a pre-scanned signature, the awards can be given out on behalf of the relevant officers, in this case the President and Vice President of Education. The Vote Counter then need only fill in the recipient name and date of the award.

You can see I watermarked the certificates with the Toastmasters logo and used the colors and font faces officially recommended by Toastmasters for all Toastmasters-related media. This, combined with the metallic certificate seals and high-quality paper, makes our certificates look and feel official. I went to such lengths because it was really important to me that members not feel short-changed by our choice not to hand out official ribbons for weekly awards.

How about you? Does your club do anything different in terms of items used to recognize weekly awards such as Best Speaker?

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