“Let the Pros Do It."
My best 4th of July holidays were as an adult, not as a kid. When our kids were young, my attorney brother bought a 20-acre gentleman's farm. Driving 400 miles home for Independence Day included a mass sleepover for 20 or so folks in his great country house on Snake Run Road in East Otto, N.Y. (no kidding). Each year, after a day spent splashing in the muddy pond, and hiding in the corn field, a do-it-yourself fireworks show was the holiday climax, followed by a big campfire. It was right out of a Norman Rockwell painting . . . most of the time.
One year, the brother-in-law assigned to purchase contraband explosives (in New York state) was ripped off at the pop-up fireworks stand in Virginia. Those were some OLD roman candles! At least half were duds, which were disposed of in the boxes they had come in. Later in the evening, as the last song faded by the dying fire, my always-efficient sister cleaned up the yard, throwing papers and other trash into the barely glowing embers, which was the way we dealt with farm garbage in prehistoric times.
A few minutes later, our tranquil evening resembled a scene from Apocalypse Now. Violent explosions erupted in and above the fire, sending tracers and flames between the screaming, crawling family members. I spotted my two kids in perfect boot camp position on bellies and elbows. Nana had flung her walker and shuffled away from the duds coming to life with remarkable agility for 92. My eldest nephew shouted without a trace of irony: “Mom, I’ve been hit!”
Of course I can tell the story now with such relish because we all escaped without permanent scarring. Psychological damage to young’uns appears to have been temporary, though I still wonder about one niece. And the lesson (I always need a lesson) for chamber folks from this story from the Fleming family annals? Let the pros do it.
The work you do requires skill and wisdom. You can’t trust just any volunteer to spend the money carefully, handle the project properly, put on a good show and wrap things up without a hitch. You’re the pro. At least supervise to avoid explosive situations for those around your campfire.
ACCE's 2013-14 Operations Survey Report Now Available
ACCE's Annual Operation Survey report for 2013-14 is now available. With the most recent data collected in the spring of 2014, the 10th Annual ACCE Chamber Operations Survey Report provides the most comprehensive benchmarking data for the chamber industry. The PDF report features 28 charts and graphs, and is built on data sets collected for 2008-2013. Current statistics (for program year 2013) have been calculated from 248 chambers and cover the following areas: organizational structure and function, governance, staffing, membership, and finances.
For participants in the survey cycle (which ran in Feb-Mar 2014), you may now download the report and spreadsheet of responses at no charge here, through My Account. Login, then select "Operations Survey & Online Results" and choose "Review Results 2013-14 Operations Survey." You can download the PDF report and Excel spreadsheet of results.
If you did not participate in the survey cycle, you may purchase a copy of the 10th Annual ACCE Chamber Operations Survey Report through the ACCE Store.
Free to all members, we have the ACCE Annual Membership Statistics report, available for download here.
Please note, the HERO team will not be creating custom operations survey PowerPoint presentations this summer... However, stay tuned for some exciting news about a new survey platform to launch later this summer, which will allow all survey participants to access reports and custom benchmarking options. The product is currently in development stages and watch for our updates and announcements through the summer. For the very latest news, please visit the ACCE booth during our Annual Convention, August 12-15, and experience a live demonstration and tour of the new system.
Find more information on ACCE's Surveys and Data offerings, including the Chamber Operations Survey, Salary (Compensation and Benefits) Survey, QuickPolls, and Other Research with whitepapers, the Schapiro Report, and other studies.
Grant resources for your chamber
Chambers, like all businesses, investigate ways to bring in funding. Grants are one funding stream to look at. Our Chamberpedia page on Grants and Contracts addresses starting points for grant research. Federal grant and contract money can be another viable source of chamber income. However, seeking and securing these funds can be time consuming and expensive. The acquisitions process is typically heavy in administration. Once an agreement is reached, a chamber must be diligent in avoiding conflicts of interest with the government agency. However, many believe that the benefits outweigh the risks. Grants and contracts can provide funds that greatly accelerate community development in areas such as tourism, infrastructure, business and other special projects. Where to start learning about grants? Read ACCE's whitepaper on Chamber Revenue Models. See specifically the section on grants in these chapters: Convention and Visitors Bureaus chapter and Economic Development Funding chapter.
Dive in to grant resources and databases:
- Foundation Center - Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide.
- Foundation Center's Funding Information Network - The Foundation Center provides free funding information through more than 470 Funding Information Network locations at libraries, community foundations, and other nonprofit resource centers located across the U.S.
- Foundation Center's Top Funders - A list of the top 100 U.S. Foundations by Total Giving
- Grants.gov - Grants.gov is the centralized place to find and apply for federal grants.
- GrantStation - GrantStation.com, Inc. is a for-profit service that offers nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and government agencies the opportunity to identify potential funding sources for their programs or projects as well as resources to mentor these organizations through the grantseeking process.
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Free Grant Database - This free resource requires sign-up to search for educational and non-profit organization grant opportunities. The database is continuously updated.
- Small Business Administration Loans & Grants - Resources and directories on finding grants
Facing a disaster? See these specific grants for disaster assistance
- Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) - Assistance through HUD.gov
- Disaster Assistance from FEMA
- Disaster Assistance from SBA.Gov
- Disaster-related grants through Grants.gov
- See the Disaster Preparedness Chamberpedia page for more on disaster recovery efforts.
Have a few minutes? Read articles from the Chamber Executive archvies with great grant ideas:
- The Wright Way to Restore a Hotel and Revive a City, Chamber Executive magazine (Winter 2013)
- After the Headlines series, Chamber Executive magazine (Fall 2011)
- After the Headlines: Chamber Execs Lead Disaster Recovery Work, by Katherine House
- After the Headlines: Disaster Relief Success Stories, by Katherine House
- After the Headlines: Tips for Before and After Disaster Strikes, by Katherine House, Chamber Executive magazine article (Fall 2011)
- Legal Matters: Grants & Federal Contracts Requirements, Chamber Executive magazine article (July/August 2006)
- Grants and Federal Contracts Requirements: Strict, Complex, Specific, by Rebecca E. Pearson, Esq., Chamber Executive magazine (July/August 2006)
- Government Money: Gift or Gift Horse?, by Patricia Lee, Chamber Executive magazine (July/August 2006)
- Grant's Anatomy, by Gail Vertz, Chamber Executive magazine (July/August 2005)
Has your chamber had success with grants? Tell us about it! Comment here or tell us more about the resources you used. Email HERO@acce.org.
Joplin Says Thank You
This week marks the third anniversary of the devastating EF5 tornado that ripped through Joplin, Mo., May 22, 2011. The tornado, with winds exceeding 200 mph, left a 13-mile swath of damaged or destroyed homes and businesses, 161 fatalities, 1,100 injured and 9,200 displaced.
Today Joplin stands tall, and our friends from The Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce send a heartfelt thank you to all – including many ACCE members – who helped them recover and rebuild. According to Chamber President Rob O’Brian, “We have had such terrific support from so many people around the county, both in ‘work’ and ‘volunteer’ roles. To-date, we have had over 200,000 registered volunteers, giving us 1.5 million person-hours of time. The equivalent of 175 years.” The chamber has prepared an inspirational video to show how far this remarkable community has come since that fateful evening, but more importantly, to say, “thank you.” See the video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWZ7aGRhWwc.
Chamber’s Computer Gets Hacked
A recent article in USA TODAY described the nightmare scenario that happened in January at the Bennington, Vt., Area Chamber of Commerce when one of its computers was overtaken by CryptoLocker, computer “ransomware” that freezes access to files via a private key known only to the hacker. When the ransomware infects a computer, any file that is directly accessible from that computer can be at risk. According to the article, "The warning — next to a ticking countdown clock — threatened to destroy all data on the computer if the chamber refused to pay a $400 ransom within 40 hours."
If your computer is infected with this malware, there's really nothing you can do, unless you decide to pay the ransom. Even then, there have been instances where the computer remained locked even after the ransom was paid. The most effective protection is to be alert. Also:
- Analyze e-mails that are "to good to be true" or unexpected.
- Stay away from web sites and/or e-mails that are offering free stuff. Free is never really FREE.
- Be careful of shipment notification emails- especially if you are not expecting anything or if you haven't shipped anything.
- Avoid sites known to be trouble, such as pornographic and gambling sites.
- When in doubt, don't click on ANY links. Just delete the message.
Read more about the Bennington Chamber’s incident here.
A policy is a plan
A policy is a plan. Any size of chamber with staffing small to large, needs personnel policies. Chambers often have practices of reviewing personnel policies and handbooks on an annual or every other year basis. Many chambers have a personnel planning committee to help with the task of reviewing policies and other personnel related matters. ACCE's Chamberpedia page on Personnel Policies lists examples of Employee Manuals & Handbooks, Workplace Violence and Safety Policies, Financial Policies, IT-related Policies, Social Media Policies, Remote/Teleworking Policies & Info, and more.
The HERO team often receives questions about social media policies and how to handle the personal use of social media while on the job. Here are several examples of chambers that address social media.
- Social Media Policy - Berkshire Chamber of Commerce
- Social Media Policy - Chester County Chamber of Busines & Industry
- Social Media Policy - Greater Killeen Chamber
- Social Media Policy - Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber
- Employee Handbook - See the Social Media Policy & Guidelines section within the Employee Handbook from St. Tammany West Chamber
Handbooks provide the guidelines your staff needs to ensure your office runs smoothly and with high standards. Here are several examples of handbooks from chambers.
- Employees' Manual - Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce
- Policy Manual - Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce
- Employee Personnel Handbook - Greater Springfield Chamber
- Employee Handbook - Longview Area Chamber of Commerce
- Personnel Manual - Santa Rosa Chamber
- Employee Handbook - St. Tammany West Chamber
Does your chamber have a personnel policy, employee handbook, or other type of policy to share? We want to hear from you. Email us at HERO@acce.org.
Membership Orientation Resources
Does your welcome packet and membership orientation need to be refreshed? Looking for new ideas or just want to know what other chambers are doing for orientation? Visit our new Chamberpedia page on Membership Orientation for great ideas direct from chambers. New Member Orientations can provide members with leadership, advocacy, networking, involvement and professional development, meeting the chamber staff and other new members, showcasing resources, and learning the benefits of chamber membership. Here you will read ideas from 8 chambers who recently posted their orientation processes on ACCE's LinkedIn group. See several sample welcome letters, learn what to include in a welcome packet, find examples of chamber booklets, view return on investment checlists, and check other ways chambers can thank members for joining. Does your chamber have a solid orientation program or new member packet that you'd like to share? Or have questions for the HERO team? We want to hear from you. Email us: HERO@acce.org
Communications and Marketing Metrics QuickPoll Results
A QuickPoll on Communications and Marketing Metrics was conducted in March 2014 and results published in April. 160 members participated in the poll.The QuickPoll starts with an overview of respondent's chamber's total revenue range, total membership size, and overall function. Metrics-specific questions include:
- Does your chamber track the following metrics?
- What is your average email open rate?
- What is your average email click-through rate?
- What is your average conversion rate?
- What is your average monthly number of unique visitors to your website?
- Which Social Media channels are used at your chamber?
- If tracked, Number of Twitter Tweets per month.
- If tracked, Number of Facebook Likes per month.
- Do you have a closed or open LinkedIn group?
- How many emails or eblasts does your Communications Department send per month
- (includes announcements, e-newsletters, etc.)?
- And other questions.
In the results, learn that 90% of participants track email open rates and 88% track website visitors; 81% track social media interactions, and 78% track email click-throughs.
The poll shows that 26% of participants have a 26-30% average email open rate; 27% of paricipants have a 6-10% average click-through rate; and 38% of participants have between 1,000-4,999 average monthly unique visitors to the chamber website.
Learn that 100% of respondents are using Facebook and 79% are using Twitter, with 76% using LinkedIn. Find these results and many more on the Communications and Marketing Metrics QuickPoll!
On the poll results, you can also find a list of resources (sites/magazines/experts) that chambers are following for communications and marketing trends or the latest in data mining.
For questions or assistance, please contact the HERO team. Email: HERO@acce.org.
Let's go golfing!
It's that time of year - time to go get in a great game of golf, enjoy the summer weather, and, in the case of many chambers, accomplish more than just a game of golf and turn the game into a networking opportunity, a fundraiser, and a way to bring the community together. Find examples on our revised and expanded Golf Tournaments Chamberpedia page.
Many chambers of commerce run golf tournaments as a way to generate revenue and offer a fun networking event for both members and non-members. Below are links to resources related to planning golf tournaments and sample documents that chambers have used for registration and publicity. Want to know more about events at chambers? See stats on chamber events from the QuickPoll conducted June 2012 with 264 participants. 75% of responding chambers said they host an annual golf outing!
- Golf Digest Planner is a quick and easy way to set up a golf event website - including online registration, payment processing, tools to market your event, sell sponsorships and attract players
- Golfregistrations.com free resources to help make your outing a success; including, a planner/checklist, and Microsoft Excel based budget, and a set of 5 standard letter templates, which can be easily modified for your tournament needs.
- TournEase shares tips, ideas, advice and helpful information to make your tournament a success
A selection of chambers with Golf Tournaments:
- Amarillo Chamber of Commerce Chamber Open Golf Tournament - Amarillo's Largest One-Day Golf Tournament, annual and sponsored typically sells out.
- Aurora Chamber of Commerce Leadership Golf Tournament - Annual event with sponsors.
- Corning Area Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament - Annual sponsored event, with golf awards for top players.
- Cushing Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament - The chamber has several great events in multiple days in a row with the Pipeline Appreciation Golf Tournament kicking off the festivities and is then followed by the Chamber's popular BBQ ‘N Blues Festival.
- Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Golf Classic - Annual event with sponsors is a great networking opportunity for businesses.
- Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce Chamber Cup Golf Tournament - Annual sponsored event with contests and awards for top players.
- Grapevine Chamber of Commerce Golf Classic Tournament - Annual sponsored event provides members an opportunity to network with fellow members or their current or potential clients in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.
- Find MORE on our Golf Tournaments Chamberpedia page.
Samples of documents chambers use to promote Golf Events:
- Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce - Scholarship Scramble Golf Tournament Sponsorships - This sample promotes available sponsorship opportunities for the chamber's annual golf tournament, which funds scholarships for high school and community college students.
- Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce Bonita Springs Golf Tour Brochure - Highlights the annual golf tournament event, sponsorship opportunities, participation opportunities, Hold Sponsors, lunch sponsor, and advertising options.
- Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce Spooktacular Charity Golf Tournament Player Registration Form - This October Halloween-themed Golf event sample includes both a player registration form and a description of the available sponsorship opportunities.
- Chamber of Schenectady County Harry Apkarian Memorial Golf Classic - This brochure promotes the golf event, highlights how the funds raised from the event are used, and includes list of sponsors.
- Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce Fall Chamber Golf Classic - Sponsorship Levels - This sample outlines the golf event sponsorship levels. The chamber has combined the golf event, held twice a year, with their total resource campaign. When the chamber made the switch to combine the golf event with the TRC, they sold out the event in the first year. As a result, they have 2 golf events, one in fall and in spring and are very successful fundraisers for the chamber.
- Greater Spokane Inc. Annual Golf Tournament Sponsorship - Example serves as a sponsorship agreement, highlights the benefits of sponsoring the hospitality tent at the chamber's successful annual golf tournament.
- Longview Chamber of Commerce Par Busters Golf Tournament
- Find MORE on our Golf Tournaments Chamberpedia page.
Read a selection of articles on chamber golf events:
- Tips for Your Next Chamber Golf Event - blog post by Christina Green, from Frank J Kenny Consulting (March 2014)
- Revenue Models: Choose Your Dues - by Katherine House, Chamber Executive magazine (Fall 2013)
- Find MORE on our Golf Tournaments Chamberpedia page.
Chamber Events and Programs
ACCE's Chamberpedia section on Events and Programs is being expanded. Here you will find numerous resources to address event planning and programming at your chamber.
Chamber event planners will find ACCE's chapter on Community Events to be helpful in gaining new awareness for successful programming options. This chapter comes from the ACCE Chamber Revenue Model Whitepaper (published December 2013).
Just getting started with event planning? Visit our new page on General Resources for Events and Programs to find online guides and resources, articles, books, whitepapers and research, and event planning samples.
Another good place to start is with the free event planning e-Book 14 Leys to Hosting Events Your Members Will Love (PDF), a guide for Association professionals from WebLink International (provider of Association Database Management Software and Chamber of Commerce Software for Member-Based Organizations).
Want to know how other chambers are handling events and to see what's most successful? See our Chamber Events QuickPoll - Provides stats on number and type of events, seasonal data, marketing events, attendance, and revenue from events from 264 poll participants, compiled June 2012.
Have a few minutes to read a great article? Check out EVENTS, by Katherine House, Chamber Executive magazine (Spring 2014). From community-wide local festivals to a caucus room on Capitol Hill, chambers are creative promoters and producers of profitable events.
To get specific, here are individual pages for specific types of events.
- Annual Meetings
- Breakfast Series
- Business Advancement Events
- DC Fly-Ins
- Festivals, Parades, and Pageants
- Golf Tournaments
- Government Relations Events
- Health Care Programs & Summits
- Leadership Development Programs
- Lemonade Day
- Membership Orientation
- Networking Events
- Training and Seminars
- Technology Related Events
Event planners can bookmark these pages for resources to help get the job done. Or get the show on the road.
- Awards and Contests
- Evaluating Programs
- Event Calendars & Programming
- Networking Icebreakers
- Non-Member Event Attendance
- Program Agendas and Scripts
- Resources for Chamber Event Planners
- Technology for Events (using tech for events)
Chamberpedia pages like these are constantly updated. Have a program resource, sample, or event you'd like to share? Have a question or need help? Let us know. Email: HERO@acce.org.