Chambers Optimistic on Relevance, Finances; More Work Needed on Communicating Value

For this month’s opinion poll, we decided to measure how optimistic chambers are feeling, both at an organizational level and as an industry. We surveyed executive members and received 193 responses.

Asked when they saw their chamber returning to 2019 levels of fiscal health, 8% of chambers stated that they were already at those levels, 29% projected 2021, 50% projected 2022, 13% projected 2023 or later, and no one answered never.

“These stats show that despite the loss of revenue, local chambers as a whole remain cautiously optimistic that funds will bounce back within the next two years,” explained W.A.C.E. Vice President Jennifer Johnson. “Hopefully these are conservative estimates and we are able to see chambers recover even faster than they originally anticipated.”

Interestingly, 52% highly agreed (score of 8 or 9) that their chamber’s best days are ahead of them, while only 36% highly agreed that the chamber industry’s best days are ahead.

Relevance vs. Value

When asked if they agree with the statement “Our chamber is more relevant today than ever before,” 66% of chambers highly agreed.

Only 24% highly agreed with the statement “Our members clearly understand the value of our chamber.”

“These results show that while chambers have increased their relevance during the pandemic, we still are leaving a lot on the table when it comes to communicating value,” Johnson said. “The pandemic and ever-changing regulations have left us in a crisis mode where we have excelled at responding quickly to solve problems and fill needs, but in the urgency often forget to make sure our members know all of the hard work the chamber is doing on their behalf.”

Top Issues

Survey participants were asked to identify the No. 1 problem facing their chamber, besides the pandemic/economic recovery. The top issues mentioned were membership, financial viability, no event revenue, staff issues, member participation and communicating value.

Likewise, we asked about the No. 1 problem facing their community. Top answers included businesses struggling and failing, workforce issues, homelessness, housing issues, and political polarization.

“While many of these issues are not new, the more local chambers can unify and innovate to find solutions to these issues, the more we ensure, not only our own long-term relevance and value, but also that of our industry as a whole,” Johnson summarized.

To view all the data from this opinion poll, please visit:

Future Poll Topics?

If you have a topic you would like to have considered for a future opinion poll, please email Jennifer Johnson, IOM, at