“Yes…information is power, but the really powerful know what to do with the information once they have it.”
During the last few years through our “Chamber Performance Survey,” W.A.C.E. has helped numerous chambers secure a tremendous amount of information from their members.
In general, the five chamber core competencies that were identified 20 years ago by Charlton Research still resonate in 2021 and, in some cases, are more relevant and important today than ever.
The current cumulative W.A.C.E. data from chambers that have done our survey comes from responses from more than 23,000 businesspersons who are members of local chambers.
In our survey, we ask how important and how the chamber is performing in each of the following areas. The percentages below indicate the percentage who said each item was very important, ranking it a 7, 8 or 9 on a 1–9 scale.
• Promoting the community: 91%.
• Being a catalyst for business growth: 90%.
• Helping build business relationships: 87%.
• Representing the interests of business with government: 84%.
• Being a champion for a stronger community: 84%.
• Helping elect business-friendly candidates to office: 71%.
Reviewing the above action areas reveals that ALL of them are very important for chambers to do.
Word to the wise…if 71% or more of your members told you something was important, you’d better pay attention and figure out a game plan to address it.
When it comes to performance levels in the above areas, the scores — respondents who gave their chamber a 7, 8 or 9 score — drop down a bit. This indicates that chambers have some work to do — possibly actually doing more in these areas or, at a minimum, doing a better job communicating what the chamber is doing:
• Promoting the community: 73%.
• Helping build business relationships: 70%.
• Being a champion for a stronger community: 70%
• Representing the interests of business with government: 61%.
• Being a catalyst for business growth: 56%.
• Helping elect business-friendly candidates to office: 41%.
A few years ago, during a Chamber Leaders Conference, one of the attendees shared a revelation: “Can you imagine the kind of chamber we would have if we ‘closed the gap’ and our performance numbers were closer to the importance numbers? Our chamber and our community would be completely different and so much better.”
Let me repeat the real challenge with the above information: Chambers need to do the right things to address what their members say is important AND do a better job communicating what we do to address expectations of our members.
Dave Kilby is president and CEO of W.A.C.E. and executive vice president of corporate affairs at the California Chamber.