Chambers Report Good Health Despite Pandemic

Surprisingly, most chambers have been surviving the impact of the pandemic and are giving themselves an overall great bill of health, according to a recent W.A.C.E. Opinion Poll.

Six out of 10 chambers rated their chamber’s health as a 7, 8 or 9, with 9 being excellent. Another 37% fell in the OK or good range with a rating of 4, 5 or 6. Only 3% reported their chamber as being in bad health with a rating of 1, 2 or 3.

“We didn’t define what good health was, so chambers had to judge for themselves what would be considered healthy, but it’s certainly clear that a chamber’s budget size or membership size had a clear impact on the overall health of the organization,” said W.A.C.E. Vice President Russell Lahodny. “We looked at the data comparing the responses by the number of members and the chambers that rated their health in the 7, 8 or 9 range increased as you went up by membership size.”

Only 38% of chambers with 250 members or fewer gave their chamber a great bill of health, compared to 55% of chambers with 251–500 members, 66% of chambers with 501–999 members, and 84% of chambers with 1,000 or more members.

Member Size

Overall, just over half of the chambers that responded have seen a decrease in overall membership during the last four months. Only a third of the chambers reported staying the same, while 16% of chambers have increased their membership during the pandemic.

“One could argue that chambers may not be dropping members according to their normal policies, which would actually see more chambers with a decrease, but the encouraging news is that 16% have been able to leverage the work they have done—whether it be advocacy, information gathering and dissemination, or member promotions—to strengthen their membership throughout the pandemic,” Lahodny said. “The interesting fact is the smaller chambers are the ones that are capitalizing on their efforts.”

Among chambers with fewer than 500 members, 17% saw an increase in membership, while 16% of chambers with 501–999 members increased their membership numbers. Only 9% of chambers with 1,000 or more members increased their total number of members.

Membership Recruitment

The membership numbers are also reflected in the data when asking chambers how recruitment has been compared to “normal” times.

Three percent of chambers said member recruitment was excellent compared to normal times. Another 22% said recruitment was good, while 45% reported fair and 30% reported poor recruitment.

Membership Retention

Just over half of chambers said that member retention was either excellent or good compared to “normal.” Forty percent of chambers said their retention was fair and 8% reported poor retention comparing to nonpandemic conditions.

Larger chambers were more likely to report poor retention than smaller chambers.

Diversity and Inclusion

W.A.C.E. also asked chambers to rate their efforts in the area of diversity/equality and inclusion. Just over half, or 51% rated their efforts as great by giving themselves a score of 7, 8 or 9. Forty-one percent rated themselves as good or OK at 4, 5 or 6. The remaining 8% rated their efforts as bad with a score of 1, 2 or 3.

For a full recap of the survey data, visit the members-only section of the W.A.C.E. website and click on Search Past Opinion Polls from the bottom of the main members-only page.