Chamber Budgets’ Reliance on Membership Varies

In the latest W.A.C.E. Opinion Poll, chambers were asked to share some of their best practices for membership renewals and a few other items of interest. Of note, W.A.C.E. asked chambers to share what percentage of their budget is generated by membership dues.

Overall, the average membership income represents 48% of the chamber’s budget with a range from as low as 5% to as high as 95%.

The data was then separated into chambers of different sizes and chambers by annual budgets. When filtering the data by the number of members, chambers with 751 to 999 members reported the highest percentage of their budget coming from membership dues with 65%. Naturally the next closest was chambers with fewer than 250 members with 59% of their budget, followed by the 501 to 750 members category at 50%, 250 to 500 members category at 49%, and 1,000 or more members category at 31% of their income.

Broken down by budget size, chambers with a budget less than $250,000 reported 57% came from membership dues while chambers with budgets between $250,000 and $499,999 received 50% of income from dues. The average income from dues among chambers with a budget between $500,000 and $749,999 and from $750,000 to $999,999 was 52%. Chambers with a budget of $1 million or more had an average of 33% from membership dues.

Renewal Invoices

W.A.C.E. asked members to identify which method they used to send out renewal invoices. The majority of chambers reported sending both an email and a mailed version of the invoice with 78% reporting this option. Only 16% send renewal invoices by mail only and just 6% send them by email only.

According to the opinion poll, 61% of chambers send a member’s first renewal invoice one month before the renewal date, while 30% reported sending it out two months before the renewal date, and 9% send out the invoice three months or more before the renewal date.

As for how long a chamber waits to drop a past-due member, 52% reported three months, while 40% reported four months or more. Only 5% said two months and 3% said one month.

Membership Payment Options

The opinion poll also asked what sort of payment arrangements are offered by the chamber. Only 26% of chambers said that they have an automatic membership renewal option where the dues are paid annually with stored payment information unless the member calls to cancel first.

On the other hand, 73% of chambers allow members to pay their dues over the course of the year. Of those chambers, 54% offer monthly payments, 46% offer quarterly payments, 30% offer twice annually, and another 23% reported “Other” with comments ranging from the membership dues being split between the first couple months of their membership to “Whatever works for the member.”

Payment Sources

All chambers essentially accept Mastercard and Visa credit cards while 84% accept American Express and only 69% take Discover. One chamber also reported taking online PayPal payments. Another 57% reported accepting payments using ACH (or electronic debit from a checking or savings account).

For all the data from this survey, please see the results here.