One of the things that I take great pride in is that W.A.C.E. has always appreciated and sought out data to back up opinions and the priorities of the association.
Generally, I’m in sync with our survey results, but sometimes I have to smile and shake my head and ask “REALLY?”
When analyzing two of our recent surveys, some results fell into the “Really?” category and deserved comment.
Our 2022 Political Action Survey revealed that 33% of chambers endorsed candidates and 27% had a Political Action Committee (PAC).
To the chambers that didn’t have a PAC or endorse, we asked — WHY? Here are their top responses:
1. Might hurt our relationship with the city.
2. Someone might get elected that we didn’t endorse.
3. Board of Directors doesn’t have the courage to do so.
4. Would jeopardize our government funding.
5. We think we’ll lose members.
Responses from chambers that were politically active seemed to counter the above reasons with 40% indicating their membership had increased, 5% decreased and 55% reported no obvious impact.
Interestingly, similar percentages surfaced when we asked about the impact on relations with the city or other government officials. The vast majority of the time the “expected” negative results don’t materialize.
The bottom line…it appears that most chambers don’t get involved in political action because of FEAR.
In our recent survey on chamber advocacy efforts (summarized in this issue) sadly, only 27% of chambers reported doing a vote record of how their elected officials voted (with or against the chamber’s position).
When you couple that response with answers to questions about their members recognizing the value of the chamber’s advocacy efforts and the definite need for major improvement when it comes to chambers monetizing their advocacy efforts, it begs the question: would chamber members recognize the value and would monetizing advocacy be more successful, if chambers did a vote record and told their members how their elected officials voted?
To take your advocacy efforts to the next level, I have long believed that chambers need to up their game, “close the loop” and tell their members how their elected officials voted on issues on which the chamber has taken a position. If it was important enough to take a position, isn’t it important enough to tell your members the result?
Yep…I appreciate the importance of data and, sometimes, having it is an essential step to making the important changes that need to happen.
Dave Kilby is president and CEO of W.A.C.E. and executive vice president of corporate affairs at the California Chamber.