Chambers Reforecasting Budgets, Keeping Cash in Reserves, Advocating Loan Programs

With the uncertainty around the current economy, W.A.C.E. polled members on some key issues related to budgeting, operations and assistance for local businesses in a few surveys over the course of April.

Chamber Budgets

Despite the first survey launching around the first of April, 46% of participants stated that they had already performed a budget reforecast for the year.

The largest percentage of chambers that had already done a reforecast of their budget were chambers with 1,000 members or more at 60%.

Just more than half of chambers with 501 to 999 members, or 53%, had done a reforecast.

Only 38% of chambers between 251 and 500 members and 31% with fewer than 250 members said they have reforecasted their annual budget.

Cash in Reserves

Between the economy being very strong leading up to the pandemic shutdown and many chambers learning valuable lessons during the economic downturn in 2008, many chambers are equipped with cash in the bank, or a “rainy day fund.”

Overall, 82% of the survey participants said their chamber had cash in the bank or in a reserve account. Not surprisingly, the chambers with more members were more likely to have money in reserves.

Among chambers with more than 1,000 members, 96% reported having reserves. Not far behind were chambers with 501 to 999 members at 88%, followed by 81% for chambers with 251-500 members, and 71% of chambers with fewer than 250 members.

When comparing chambers by budget size, nearly one-third of chambers under $250,000 did not have reserves. The percentages steadily increased with the overall income of the chambers. Eighty-four percent of chambers with an income between $250,000 and $499,999 had reserves, while 88% of those with $500,000 to $749,999, 89% of those with $750,000 to $999,999, and 97% of those with more than $1 million had reserve accounts.

The most common percentage of the chamber’s budget held in reserve accounts was between 10% to 20%, with just more than 25% reporting this amount. Only 2% had more than 100% of their annual budget tucked away in reserves with another 3% amassing between 91% to 100% of their budget. Fifteen percent reported having less than 10% in reserves.

According to the survey, only 21% of chambers had accessed their reserve funds by mid-April when the survey was taken.

Community Business Stabilization Loan Programs

Early in April only 28% of participating chambers reported business stabilization loan programs established through the city or county government.

Among those that did not have loan programs in their community, 69% of chambers said they would be advocating on behalf of the business community to have one created in their region.