New Memberships Surpass Renewal Rates

Chambers are doing better in the new membership department compared to renewals, according to the latest W.A.C.E. Opinion Poll.

Fifty-eight percent of chambers that participated in the survey said they were either “way ahead” or “somewhat ahead” of their numbers from 2018, while another 24% reported being on track with last year.

Less than half of chambers participating in the survey are ahead of last year’s membership renewals for the first quarter, with 44% reportedly ahead of 2018 renewals. Another 33% said they were on track with 2018, while 23% responded that they were either somewhat or way behind 2018 renewals.

Membership Dues

Two-thirds of the survey participants reported that membership dues make up less than half of their budget. The most common range was 30%–39% of a chamber’s budget, with 23% of survey participants reporting this percentage range. Only one percentage point behind was the range from 40%–49% of a chamber’s budget.

Market Share

Recently, several chambers asked what the average percent of businesses in a community are members of their local chamber, so W.A.C.E. polled members to determine what an estimated industry average is.

The first part of the question asked chambers if they knew what percentage of businesses in the community were members of the chamber. Only 51% of survey participants knew the percentage.

Of the chambers saying they knew the percentage, W.A.C.E. asked what that percentage was. The answers ranged from 3% to 97%, but the overall average is that 27% of businesses in a community are members of the chamber.

Taking a look at the data based on chamber size paints a slightly different picture. Chambers with fewer than 250 members have an average of 33% of the market share. Chambers with 250–500 average 30%. Those with 501–750 and 1,000 or more members averaged 25%. Chambers with 751–999 members reported the lowest average with only 16% of the market share.

“Though the numbers are interesting to know, I don’t put a ton of significance on these numbers,” said W.A.C.E. Vice President Russell Lahodny. “It provides a rough guide, but it’s hard to know if each community counts ‘businesses’ the same way. For that matter, are they sourcing the business license list, and if so, how many of those businesses are located outside of the city? Some of those businesses might also be failing or already out of business.”