Focus on Chamber Mission, Tiered Dues Help Promote Membership without Involvement

A common reason given for dropping chamber membership is not enough time to participate. What is your chamber doing to improve value without involvement and how are you communicating this value to your members and potential members?

Bill Lee
Gallup McKinley County (NM) Chamber

We focus our answer around the benefits of our advocacy. It’s a conversation that stresses the importance of what we do while you are busy with your business.

Even when you can’t participate, your membership puts your voice at the table on critical issues that impact business. During the last legislative session, we fought for tax incentives to help small business, and worked to find a reasonable solution on the minimum wage increase. We spoke for your business at the city council meeting when they wanted to increase water rates by 50%.

Your membership means you’ve hired the chamber to work for you, even when you can’t participate. While we love to see you at our networking opportunities, remember we are laser focused on issues that impact business.

By adding your powerful small business to our ranks, you are participating.

Justin Aufdermauer
Executive Director/CEO
Tillamook Area (OR) Chamber

We entirely removed involvement-related activities as a membership benefit. Once these “benefits” were removed, I believe the sense of obligation to our members to participate dissipated, allowing them to focus on the work we do as a chamber; additionally, there isn’t any fear they aren’t getting their full membership value if they don’t participate.

Our value proposition is now much deeper, with over 70% of our members belonging to the chamber because they believe in the work the chamber does rather than direct benefits to their business. This value proposition, along with no sense of time requirements has allowed our chamber to thrive in recent years.

Kyle Tarbet, IOM
Walla Walla Valley (WA) Chamber

The best way to improve and communicate value to your members is to have a clear and compelling mission. Our board adopted a 3Cs mission during the pandemic and it resonates well with members by reinforcing how we serve them in our everyday work, even if they can’t come to events, committee meetings or programs.

Members now join and renew because they care about the work we do and believe in the mission. If your mission statement is ambiguous, too long, or forgettable, I highly recommend upgrading to the 3Cs!

Zeb Welborn
Chino Valley (CA) Chamber

We highlight examples of businesses who do receive benefits from our chamber without involvement through email, social media and verbally at in-person events.

In doing so, we are reinforcing that the work we do is helping businesses beyond their involvement and showcasing the thousands of ways chambers help businesses without their involvement.

Just last week, we gave a $2,000 check to a limited-participating member who received an email from us, applied for a grant, and received it. We had another limited-participating member tell me that a referral I gave them paid for their membership for the next 10 years. Another member received a $75,000 roof donation to help build their nonprofit from a fellow member we connected with them.

By building success stories from businesses we have helped that are not actively participating in the chamber, we are not only reinforcing that we are helping businesses outside of our networking events, but we are educating our staff, stakeholders and community on the thousands of ways chambers help businesses.

Robin McConnell-Trimble
Rocklin Area (CA) Chamber

Returning to pre-COVID event and activity levels, our members have let us know they are BUSY in their businesses — which while a relief to hear, also keeps them from attending community and networking activities.

Our response has not been a “one size fits all” approach, but a variety of member benefit options. Our top 4 “time savers”:

• Moved to Tiered Dues. This allows members the option to select the benefit tier that fits them best and in turn, allows them to focus their time on things of importance to their business.

• Sponsorships without Attendance. We offer event sponsorships that don’t require participation or attendance. For example, at our largest event of the year, we had a Jumbo Tron that played ads throughout the day. A business could take advantage of that opportunity without having to staff a booth.

• SHOP Membership FIRST. We make it a priority to use member businesses for as many chamber transactions as possible. Many of those members rarely, if ever, can step away from their business but if they know the chamber has supported them during the year, they’ll happily pay the renewal.

• Keyless Access to the chamber office. We recently installed a keyless door entry to our office that allows members to utilize our conference room on weekends and outside business hours.

Our bottom line has benefitted greatly from providing solution-oriented options for our busy members.