Building Coalitions, Reorganizing Priorities Help Secure Monetary Support for Advocacy Work

How have you excelled at monetizing your government affairs/advocacy work at your chamber?

Lorraine Clarno
President and CEO
Beaverton Area (OR) Chamber

Due to the COVID-19 environment and nonstop advocacy work we have been doing to get our businesses monetary and policy support, we are more visible than ever. We have two fundraising/nondues revenue events that will in all likelihood not be happening this summer and fall due to civil authority directives. These two events are done to supplement and pay for our advocacy work.

For 2020, we have created a Voice of Business Champion sponsorship level and have asked all our sponsors for our golf tournament and community expo to pay for them as usual whether or not we have the events. We are building out a program for these amazing partners to be featured in all our virtual programming, website, communications and engaging in a PR campaign to highlight their commitment to the chamber and Beaverton community.

The silver lining in this pandemic and crisis is that what was once considered intangible in the past is now being recognized and valued with dollars.

Jack Llewellyn
Executive Director
Durango (CO) Chamber

Our Legislative Affairs Coalition consists of the Durango Chamber, Energy Council and Area Association of Realtors. Through our efforts to have a moratorium removed from the new county land use development code, we reached out to our membership and created a business scholarship program. The program will allow members to apply for all or part of their dues to be paid for by the scholarship program. We have targeted banks that facilitated Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan funds since they receive monies for administering the loans/grants.

Paul Farmer
Salinas Valley (CA) Chamber

Many times, our chamber’s advocacy has resulted in new memberships and existing members choosing to upgrade their support. Examples of our advocacy include opposing Project Labor Agreements, developing a “Construction Industry Forecast” of major infrastructure planned locally, and building a coalition to promote Local Preference Policies.

Currently, as our chamber’s CEO, I have helped build a broad coalition of associations to develop one overarching business plan for reopening industries amid the coronavirus. I presented at Rotary and we had a new member join at $2,800 as a direct result of this work. Members pay for strong advocacy.

Ann Silver
Reno + Sparks (NV) Chamber

Two years ago, we eliminated our full-time, in-house, government affairs person and dissolved our political action committee (PAC). We then formed a Public Policy Committee of five of our board members and that group reviews all issues for chamber support. We created a Public Policy Platform, which is revised each year. We then did an RFP and hired a lobbying firm to represent us during our legislative session.

We’ve gained hundreds of new members with the elimination of the PAC that had politicized our chamber and created many enemies over the years. And I reduced our budget by $50,000 with the elimination of the position we had for over 10 years and the rather small amount we pay an outside firm each month.

Donna Duperron
President and CEO
Torrance Area (CA) Chamber

COVID-19 has changed our world and has dramatically reorganized our priorities. In mid-March, chamber staff personally called 319 members to provide support. From those conversations, several webinars were created and implemented which convened leaders who addressed members on a multitude of subjects impacting their businesses. Topics included Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, safety and liability, unemployment, staffing, operational challenges and financial uncertainty.

In addition, #TorranceStrong was created to assist small businesses, specifically restaurants. And, now that more businesses are being open through the phase-in approach, the chamber has launched #SmallYetStrong campaign.

Communication was the key to inform members of the resources available and action taken by the chamber. A press release was also placed in the local newspaper and podcast appearances were made within the South Bay community, sharing advocacy efforts of the chamber. Chamber members and nonmembers have clearly seen the active advocacy efforts of the chamber. Businesses that tuned into a webinar or listened to a podcast or read about the advocacy efforts of the chamber in the local newspaper have now joined the chamber. Further, businesses have reached out to seek sponsorship information.