ACCE - American Chamber of commerce executives

ACCE Survey Definitions

Glossary of Terms to be used in Benchmarking

This glossary was developed for the chamber profession by members of the ACCE Board of Directors as well as CFO's serving on a benchmarking task force, with significant input by the Membership Development Division advisory board.

ASSETS: CURRENT are those assets that are expected to be realized in cash during a specified fiscal year. Such assets include cash, accounts receivable and money due usually within one year, short-term investments, US government bonds, inventories, and prepaid expenses.

ASSETS: TOTAL are all assets (reserved and unreserved) as reported on the financial balance sheet, also called statement of financial position.

BUSINESSES IN THE SERVICE AREA is the number of businesses physically located in a chamber’s service area. Chambers use a variety of sources to determine this number, including the number of business licenses issued by the city(ies) or county(ies) in their service area, or “private non-farm establishments” as counted by the US Census Bureau, (http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/), for example.

CHAMBER SERVICE AREA is the geographic area a chamber either actively recruits members from or provides service to. Chambers use a variety of sources to define their service area, including city, county, MSA, or other political lines. Data sources include the U.S. Census Bureau (http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/).

DUES SCHEDULE is the published rate schedule for becoming a member of the organization.

DRAW DOWN/TAPPED RESERVES is depleting reserves by spending or consumption.

DIRECT COSTS are those costs that can be identified specifically with a particular program, project, or service and that can be directly assigned to such activity relatively easily with a high degree of accuracy. In this particular definition, direct costs do not include personnel costs or costs associated with overhead (rent, utilities, etc.)

EMPLOYEE: AVERAGE TENURE is the average number of years the current employees have worked at the organization. It is calculated by adding the total number of years each current employee has worked for the organization, then divide by the number of current employees. As an example, Susie has been employed 5 years, Tom has been employed 15 years and Sally has been employed 2.5 years. (5 + 15 + 2.5) divided by 3 = 7.5 average employee tenure.

EMPLOYEE TURNOVER RATE is the percentage of employees who left the organization during the fiscal year ending in 2013. As an example, if you have 25 employees at the end of fiscal year 2012, and 22 of the same employees are still employed at the end of fiscal year 2013 calculate: (25 – 22) divided by 25 = 12% employee turnover rate.

EXPENSE: CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU (CVB) is the total direct cost of for an entity or division that specializes in developing conventions, meetings, conferences and visitations to a city, county or region. Include personnel expense in this area.

EXPENSE: ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT is the total direct cost during the fiscal year ending in 2013 of recruiting new businesses. Include personnel expense in this area.

EXPENSE: EVENT is the total direct cost during the fiscal year ending in 2013 for the sponsorship or participation in a chamber sponsored meeting, breakfast, luncheon, dinner, party or other get together. Include personnel expense in this area.

EXPENSE: MEMBERSHIP is the total direct cost during the fiscal year ending in 2013 for retaining current and recruiting new members.  Include personnel expense in this area.

EXPENSE: OCCUPANCY is the total expense for the fiscal year ending in 2013 for occupying office space including rent or mortgage, depreciation, gas, electric, water and sewer expenses. Does NOT include expenses supporting restricted income generators, i.e. some contracts or grants.

EXPENSE: OTHER is the total expense for the fiscal year ending in 2013 that was NOT included in this survey as revenue from dues, campaign, events, program/publication, affinity, contracts or grants. This may include interest from investments, rental income, etc. Include personnel expense in this area.

EXPENSE: PUBLIC POLICY is the total expense for the fiscal year ending in 2013 for all initiatives that are funded to influence the government action or inaction, decisions and non-decisions. Include personnel expense in this area.

EXPENSE: SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT is the total direct cost during the fiscal year ending in 2013 of developing small businesses. Include personnel expense in this area.

EXPENSE: TOTAL BENEFITS is non-wage compensation expenses for the fiscal year ending in 2013 provided to employees, such as group insurance, retirement benefits, day care, tuition reimbursement, and specialized benefits. Does NOT include expenses supporting restricted income generators, i.e. some contracts or grants.

EXPENSE: TOTAL WAGES is all personnel wages for the fiscal year ending in 2013 including salary, bonuses, and payroll taxes. Not including insurance, retirement training. Does NOT include expenses supporting restricted income generators, i.e. some contracts or grants.

EXPENSE: TOTAL ANNUAL is the total amount used during the fiscal year ending in 2013 that directly supported the day-to-day operations such as personnel, training, programs, products, promotions, maintenance, office supplies, depreciation, lease or mortgage payments, utilities, etc. This total should be on your 2013 year-end income and expense statement, also called the statement of activities. Please include personnel expense for total expenses.

FULL-TIME EQUIVALENT (FTE) represents the total staff size of the organization for full-time and part-time staff. Calculated by totaling the number of hours that all part-time employees work for the year and divide it by the number of hours that a full-time employee works. Then add that number to the number of full-time employees. For example, an organization has 7 full-time employees working a 40-hour week and 3 part-time employees working a 20-hour week. (3 x 20) divided by 40 = 1.5.  Adding 7 full-time + 1.5 part-time = 8.5 FTE.

LIABILITIES: CURRENT are liabilities to be paid within a specified fiscal year.

LIABILITIES: TOTAL are all liabilities reported on the balance sheet, also called the statement of financial position.

MARKET PENETRATION RATE is the number of chamber members divided by the total number of businesses in the service area.

MEMBERSHIP is the total number or dollars of member accounts at the end of the specified fiscal year. One company = one member regardless of the number of branches, locations, or associate members affiliated with the parent company.

MEMBER RETENTION RATE is the percentage of members who maintained their membership with the organization during a specified completed fiscal year. It is calculated as:

Number of membership accounts at the end of the previous fiscal year minus the number of cancellations at year end, divided by the number of membership accounts at the end of the previous fiscal year.

For example, number of 2012 membership accounts minus number of cancellations in 2013, divided by the number of 2012 membership accounts. To calculate dollars retained substitute dollar value of membership accounts for number of membership accounts and dollar value of dropped accounts for number of cancellations. 

MEMBERSHIPS: CANCELED is the number of canceled (for any reason – out of business, moved out of the area, etc.) member accounts at the end of a specified fiscal year.

MEMBERSHIPS: NEW is the number of member accounts that joined the organization in the specified fiscal year.

NET ASSETS i.e. NET WORTH is calculated by subtracting total liabilities from total assets as reported on the financial balance sheet, also called statement of financial position.

NET GAIN/LOSS OF MEMBERS is the number of new members minus the number of canceled members in a specified completed fiscal year.

RESERVES is is the chamber’s rainy-day fund often found in investments or an interest-bearing.

REVENUE: ADVERTISING is the money or in-kind service recognized during the fiscal year ending in 2013 by the organization for all advertising sales, including print and online publications. Do not include affinity revenue.

REVENUE: AFFINITY is money or in-kind service, recognized in the fiscal year ending in 2013 by the organization for all programs and products sold through an affinity relationship with an outside vendor, i.e. insurance, international travel, maps, etc.

REVENUE: CAMPAIGN ANNUAL RECOGNIZED is the annual amount recognized from a single or multi-year fundraising campaign as 2013 revenue on the income/expense statement, also called financial statement of activities.

REVENUE: CONTRACT/GRANT/FOUNDATION is the revenue recognized through contracts or grants during the fiscal year ending in 2013 from outside entities which require the organization to perform specific services, for example, industrial recruitment, minority business development, tourism development, downtown development, festival promotion, etc. It does NOT include economic development contracts, public policy grants or organization revenue from projects and programs performed by outside vendors (such as directory publishing) seminar promotion or affinity programs as these are addressed in another revenue category.

REVENUE: CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU (CVB) is the money or in-kind service recognized during the fiscal year ending in 2013 by the organization for an entity or division that specializes in developing conventions, meetings, conferences and visitations to a city, county or region.

REVENUE: ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT is the money or in-kind service recognized during the fiscal year ending in 2013 by the organization for recruiting new businesses.

REVENUE: EVENT is the money or in-kind service recognized during the fiscal year ending in 2013 by the organization for the sponsorship or participation in a chamber sponsored meeting, breakfast, luncheon, dinner, party or other get together.

REVENUE: OTHER is the money or in-kind service recognized in the fiscal year ending in 2013 by the organization that was NOT included in this survey as revenue from dues, campaign, events, program/publication, health insurance, affinity, contracts or grants. This may include interest from investments, rental income, etc.

REVENUE: PUBLIC POLICY is the money or in-kind service recognized during the fiscal year ending in 2013 by the organization for all initiatives that are funded to influence the government action or inaction, decisions and non-decisions.

REVENUE: PRODUCT SALES is the money or in-kind service recognized during the fiscal year ending in 2013 by the organization for all publications, print media such as directories or calendars, or any other products sold. Do not include advertising or affinity revenue.

REVENUE: TOTAL NON-DUES UNRESTRICTED is the total money or in-kind service, received in the fiscal year ending in 2013 which is not restricted for use by legal or contractual requirements and may be used for any purpose. 

REVENUE: TOTAL NON DUES RESTRICTED is the total money, received in the fiscal year ending in 2013 which is restricted by contracts, laws or regulations or parties such as grantors, contributors, creditors (through debt covenants).

REVENUE: NON DUES UNRESTRICTED is money or in-kind service, received in the fiscal year ending in 2013 which is not restricted for use by legal or contractual requirements and may be used for any purpose.

REVENUE: NON DUES RESTRICTED is money, received in the fiscal year ending in 2013 which is restricted by contracts, laws or regulations or parties such as grantors, contributors, creditors (through debt covenants).

SURVEY PARTICIPANT (ANONYMOUS) Those chambers choosing anonymous participation in the survey will not be specifically identified with their data in any of the published (either online or hard copy) survey results. In turn, anonymous chamber survey participants will see all results but the data is never attributed to specific chambers.

SURVEY PARTICIPANT (COLLABORATIVE) Those chambers choosing collaborative participation in the survey will be identified with their data in online results and will have access to results where other collaborative survey participants are identified. The balance of the results will be identified only as anonymous.


What are Voluntary Consensus Standards and Why is ACCE Publishing Them?

Voluntary consensus standards are:

  • Standards (definitions in this case) developed by representatives (who have developed "consensus" about defining the standard) of a particular industry or profession for the industry's general and wide-spread usage.
  • Adherence to the definitions is optional ("voluntary") - but everyone benefits when all use the same definitions to report data.

ACCE's Board of Directors adopted a benchmarking policy in October, 2004, defining ACCE's role in facilitating member discussions to develop these voluntary consensus standards in addition to other key benchmarking principles.

It is anticipated that promoting key indicators and the standardized use of sources will evolve into an “industry standard” for reporting organizational data.  Adopting standard definitions allows all chambers of commerce to be certain they are comparing the same data and allows more rigorous analysis of financial, membership, and organizational data. If you have further questions or feedback, please send an email to HERO@acce.org or call (703) 998-3524.

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