Annual Non-Dues Income Survey Reveals Top Sources of Revenue for Chambers

The Western Association of Chamber Executives recently completed and analyzed its annual Non-Dues Income Survey for 2018, and has made some comparisons to last year’s result to discover any trends in the industry.

The following information is a summary of the highlights from this year’s survey.

Survey Overview

The survey asked chambers to provide their single largest source of non-dues revenue not derived from government income. The responses were averaged, which resulted in an average net income from a single largest source of non-dues revenue of $87,224. This was an increase of just over $13,000 from last year.

“One caveat to this increased average was the inclusion of a ‘Programmatic Investors Fund’ that generated $5.2 million for one chamber,” said W.A.C.E. Vice President Russell Lahodny. “Clearly this is not something that can necessarily be duplicated in all markets.

“With that in mind, this year’s average is probably more realistically around $60,649,” Lahodny said. “Despite the overall average being lower without this one program, the average incomes generated in every category did increase when compared to last year—with the exception of publications—they stayed roughly the same.”


The trending theme each year is chambers’ viewing sponsorships as the greatest potential to generate non-dues income for their organization. Survey participants selected their top three choices, and overall, 55% of chambers had sponsorships in their top three. The next highest source was the Chairman’s Circle/President’s Club at 43%.

“The data supports an increased focus on sponsorships and a chairman’s circle program with some exceptional results,” said Lahodny. “It is difficult to compare results from one year to the next due to the variety of chambers responding each year, but clearly performance is up in this area. The average income generated in this category was $121,000—an increase of 102% from last year.”

Looking at the data based on chamber size, the percentage of chambers that view sponsorships as their greatest potential for increased revenue decreases the larger the chamber is. Sixty-seven percent of chambers with fewer than 250 members put this in their top three selections, while only 43% of chambers with more than 1,000 members included it.


Participants ranked special events as the third highest category with the greatest potential for increased revenue. Taking the data from the survey’s opening question about the net income from the largest source of non-dues revenue, W.A.C.E. created averages for three types of chamber events.

Festivals had the highest average income among the categories with $66,458, followed by business-focused events like awards banquets or state of the city at $54,782. Golf events generated $32,952. Averages in each area increased compared to last year’s results.

Application Fees

According to the participants in the survey, 69% charge an application fee for new members. The application fees range from as little as $10 to as high as $150.

Thanks to all who participated in the survey. The official survey report will be posted in the Members Only section of in mid-July.