Chambers of commerce are taking a variety of approaches during the COVID-19 crisis, seeking to find the right balance of showcasing compassion and empathy, highlighting member value and keeping revenue flowing into the chamber. The following steps and best practices were developed from Membership Development Division (MDD) roundtable calls. For more examples and ideas, see the MDD Roundtable recordings and notes at left.
Adjust the messaging in your renewal communications. Communicating to your members and highlighting the ROI of membership is imperative during times of crisis. Best practice is to include a letter with the invoice outlining:
Adjustments to communications can include:
Choose an approach appropriate for your chamber (see below examples) and follow up with a phone call from a membership representative. Regardless of approach, best practice is direct outreach to members to see where they are at and to assess their needs. Some chambers have been able to add new members as a result of their outreach efforts and highlighting the value they are offering to their members and business communities.
Huntsville/Madison County Chamber (AL) is calling all members and adjusting renewal options on a case-by-case approach. The chamber only sends invoices if the business is able to pay. Their campaign is internally called Operation Care with the following guidelines:
RENEW: If the member can still support the Chamber due to little to no impact from COVID-19
RESET: If the member has been impacted, we can offer a reset to July 2020 - many members extremely appreciative
DROP: Normal drop reasons, no longer in business, moved, financial constraints, per choice
With this approach, 52 memberships up for renewal in March 2020 broke-down as:
Grand Rapids Chamber (MI) is emailing renewal invoices with a letter outlining what the Chamber is doing to support businesses in response to COVID-19. The letter extends flexibility to create an optimal solution for the member to maintain their membership, but options are not detailed. A membership representative follows up with a phone call to determine if a flexible plan is needed. If needed, the Chamber offers:
Another example is Greater Chapel Hill Carrboro Chamber (NC). The Chamber is reaching out to collect from members now and offering monthly memberships as necessary. The premise is that if members see value in the Chamber now, they are more likely to pay now versus three weeks from now.
For more examples and ideas, see the MDD Roundtable recordings and notes at the left of this page.