Staying Connected Helps Retain Members, Recruit New Ones; Act of Kindness Works

What has your chamber’s experience been with new memberships and renewals over the last several months and were there any specific outcomes that came from your membership efforts?

Anne Gill
Tempe (AZ) Chamber

When the stay at home order was issued, we immediately implemented a campaign to call every member to learn about their challenges and identify ways we could assist. Overall, we met our new member revenue goal and achieved an 81% renewal rate. We had two members increase their investment to our highest level, two others increased to our second highest tier, and two new members also joined at that level.

The majority of our renewals and new members have been our Basic and Small Business members, who are grateful for the advocacy and robust resources we’ve provided during this pandemic.

Pam Ridler
Castle Rock (CO) Chamber

I don’t know about you, but I feel the last few months have felt like a year. As a chamber exec we have worked so hard to show compassion, creativity, knowledge, empathy, stamina, and patience in trying to help our business community survive such a difficult time. Our members and our chambers are trying to keep our businesses afloat and having to make some very difficult choices, many having to lay off employees and do more with less.

Awareness of our members’ personal situation and knowing they need their chamber more now than ever is an emotional challenge as we are also asking them to continue their investment in the chamber. I’ve been told numerous times throughout this ordeal that the chamber’s efforts have been greatly appreciated with the enormous amount of information helping them understand available grant and loan options, assistance in marketing their business, outreach to our elected officials, and deciphering the new government protocols and requirement of reopening their business which can change daily.

My experience is that membership renewals and recruitment have definitely been slow and tedious; however, this has caused us to look for investment in industries that have not been hard hit and communicate and demonstrate our story, not just through our social media channels but in person—being our community’s Catalyst, Convenor and Champion.

Nancy Hoffman Vanyek
Greater San Fernando Valley (CA) Chamber

Though our overall membership dollars are down, it’s not nearly as low as we’d expected. Our goal is to avoid the “we really don’t need the chamber right now” attitude. Businesses must feel that their chamber is working for them in order to maintain their loyalty and trust by re-imagining services, programs, and opportunities to prove our relevance.

We see ourselves as the business community’s first responder, triaging with our resources, connections, programs and clout. It was through our expanded engagement and communication that we made it clear that membership is about the businesses and business community, not about the chamber.

Jason Camis
Gardner Edgerton (KS) Chamber

We have been fortunate to continue growing this year, having added over 20 new members in 2020 and only losing one so far due to COVID-19. Our renewals continue to come in, though we haven’t pushed them during the past couple months.

We have focused on improving member communication, including making quarterly calls to all members. This not only shows them that we care about their business, but also has helped us better understand their needs.

We’ve found that more and more businesses are looking to us for information and a source of positive information about what is happening in the community.

Michael S. Neal, CCE, CCD, HLM
Tulsa (OK) Chamber

We have committed, above all else, to be kind and useful to our business community. Critical to this effort has been our dedication to personally connect with each of our 2,200 members, as well as hundreds of prospective members, to deepen relationships and demonstrate value. And all this regardless of payment status. In this way we never stopped selling.

While the pace has slowed, members continue to join us weekly, many in response to our recurring outreach and support. Members have gained heightened visibility via our emerging digital offerings, and others have contributed generous gifts to support our mission. The result has been encouraging retention rates and positive new revenue gains.

Wendy Gerig
Roseville Area (CA) Chamber

Businesses joining the chamber during the pandemic has been dismal. Our staff is using the time to build their pipeline for the second half of the year. As for renewals, they have been a pleasant surprise during these unprecedented times.

The end of April we had a member reach out to us and acknowledged the tough times our business community was going through while also acknowledging the impact that this must be having on the chamber. He said he would like to help and offered to pay the annual investment for one of our members. What a generous offer!

We then took this act of kindness one step further and initiated a Pay It Forward campaign and pushed the concept out everywhere we could and witnessed several of our members stepping up and doing the same thing. Through June 19 we have raised $7,677 in renewals that would not have happened without our generous members.