As the COVID-19 pandemic began to play out in mid-March of 2020, cities, counties and states across the country called for drastic measures to “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of the virus. The unintended consequence was a flattening of the economy.
In the days and weeks that followed, W.A.C.E. received inquiries from dozens of chambers asking what the industry was doing in response to the safer-at-home directives. One of the key questions revolved around whether chambers were sending out membership renewal invoices as normal, or if they had taken another approach during this time.
Membership Renewal Invoices
The organization posed the question: What best describes your CURRENT practice in regards to sending invoices for membership renewals? Most chambers, 46%, responded that they were sending out membership renewals but included a special note to accompany the invoice. Another 31% were invoicing members as normal. Only 23% chose to not send membership renewal invoices until things returned to normal.
When comparing the results by the number of members a chamber has, chambers with fewer than 250 were among the highest group deciding to not invoice members for renewals, at 38%. Only 7% of chambers with more than 1,000 members said they would not be sending out invoices during the pandemic.
Grace Period for Payments
The survey followed up with whether the chambers are dropping past-due members or if they were extending a grace period during the pandemic. Only 14% overall were dropping members according to normal policies, with 86% extending a grace period. Comparing by member count, 19% of chambers with fewer than 250 members were adhering to their normal policies, while chambers with between 250 and 500 members and 501 and 999 members were at 14% and 15%, respectively. Chambers with more than 1,000 members that were dropping members as normal equated to only 4%.
Most of the chambers that are offering extensions mentioned that they would give members 60-day to 90-day extensions or deferments. Another large number said they would take it on a case-by-case basis.
One chamber responded with the following: “So as not to force a difficult conversation, we are saying to those who state they can’t renew right now that we will extend their membership 90 days and touch back then.”
Following up on that question, W.A.C.E. asked any chamber that said it was sending a special letter with its invoices to send a copy to be included in the COVID-19 Chamber Resources page on the Association’s website. Those interested in viewing sample letters can visit www.waceonline.com/covid19resources.html.
Chambers seeking information on what other chambers are doing can contact W.A.C.E. Vice President Russell Lahodny at email@example.com.