BlogMembership Chamber of Commerce Membership Fees: How to Set, Accept and Manage Them Membership Chamber of Commerce Membership Fees: How to Set, Accept and Manage Them Author: Sonia Urlando February 10, 2023 Contents 🕑 6 min read Chambers of commerce are a valuable resource for any small business—but they also cost money to keep up and running! This is where chamber of commerce membership fees come in. This stream of revenue helps chambers of commerce provide networking opportunities, community resources and more. But if you’re running or just starting a chamber of commerce, you probably have some questions about these fees. How do you decide how much to charge your members? What software should you be using? And where’s the best place to invest that money, anyway? Here’s a full breakdown of chamber of commerce membership fees, plus an idea of how to add value to your membership program! First of all—what are chamber of commerce membership fees? Chamber of commerce membership fees are essentially the membership dues that businesses pay to be a part of the organization. Chambers will typically charge on an annual basis, but some offer monthly options. By paying these fees, members of the chamber’s targeted business community can access all sorts of events and resources that help their business develop! Why do people join a chamber of commerce? People typically join a local chamber of commerce in order to network and grow their business. However, the deeper motivations have changed over the past years, largely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, the major benefits of joining a chamber of commerce were: Frequent, large events Influence and clout Educational resources Advocacy Since the pandemic, people have also looked to chambers for: More hands-on support Referral networks Creative event solutions It’s not easy to run a small business. In fact, nearly 22% of small businesses fail in their first year. With these odds, a local chamber of commerce can be a fantastic solution for long term business success! In order to run a successful chamber of commerce model for the current times, chambers have had to really investigate what they have to offer. Consider what a small business has to gain by investing in membership. How are chamber of commerce membership fees used? The revenue you make from your chamber of commerce membership fees should go back into how you help your business community. Here are some membership benefits worth investing in: Networking Opportunities Your typical chamber member will join your organization because they’re looking to make connections! Meeting with the owners of similar businesses offers tons of opportunity for collaboration. Your membership fees can partially cover the cost of: A thorough, attractive member directory Memorable in-person events like happy hours Virtual or in-person conferences When members of your chamber eventually collaborate on a successful project, you’ll be able to say that your chamber was what brought them together! Community support for businesses Businesses are nothing without the people who support them. While networking opportunities between like-minded businesses is valuable, your chamber of commerce should also help hook members up with new clients. For example, if one of your members runs a bookstore, your chamber of commerce can introduce them to a local book festival. This brings the business out from behind the register and into the greater community. Perhaps your chamber could even sponsor one of these events to get more businesses on the map! Business exposure In those early years, a business needs to do everything it can to get its name out there. Use your chamber of commerce membership fees to offer advertising opportunities to your members. Investing in a beautiful chamber of commerce website will let current and prospective members effortlessly browse each others’ businesses. When they see their businesses front and center, they can trust that you’ll give them the exposure you’ve promised. Along with these, be sure to set up a mailing list! This will alert people every time a new business joins your chamber. Access local expertise As a local chamber of commerce, you want to offer all the expertise you can get to your business community. Your job isn’t to be the expert on everything business-related—it’s to be the place people go to find experts! Use your chamber of commerce membership fees to: Hire people to run workshops Pay experts for one on one mentoring sessions Bring in influential guest speakers If your members can attend free, high value members-only events, then they will know their membership fees are well-spent! Grants and funding In these ever-changing times, many people argue that grants are becoming more and more essential to the survival of small businesses. Depending on where you live and the type of funding that’s available, many business owners might not realize the opportunities that are available to them. Be sure to add resources on grants to your membership website. You can also run events like quarterly grant-writing Q&As for businesses new and old! If you’re looking to make the most out of chamber membership fees, hire professional grant writers and advisors to guide people through their applications and offer feedback. Advocacy The community a chamber of commerce builds goes beyond happy hour events. Your chamber has the resources to support members through all of the challenges that come with running a business. If there is a new regulation or tax proposal that would harm your industry, your chamber can serve as a united front. Where one business might struggle to have its voice heard, a whole group of businesses is not so easy to brush aside. When organizing involves some investment, your chamber of commerce membership fees will be there as a buffer. Discounts Making money costs money, which is why every business loves a discount! Offer your businesses discounts on products or events that would be of use to them. If you ask members to make chamber-specific discounts for fellow members, that’ll also tie in some networking opportunities. Once you have those discounts read, advertise them in your chamber of commerce newsletter! People will be happy to see some awesome deals in their inbox. How much should chamber of commerce fees be? Chamber of commerce membership fees typically come out at $300-$400 per year. A small business can expect a basic membership to land around the $30-$40/month range. However, that number can definitely jump when it comes to larger businesses! Some organizations will have a list of chamber of commerce membership levels which can go up to a few thousand dollars per year, depending on benefits. When you’re trying to set a price for your fees, follow these steps: Look at your member data. If your typical chamber member is a small business with under 5 employees, they probably don’t have thousands of dollars to spend. Consider what’s possible for your members so you don’t scare anyone away. Research your competition. What are similar chambers charging? Prospective members will likely do this research too, so be sure you’re not asking way over (or under!) what makes sense. Look at your benefits. Members will be looking for a return on investment for joining your chamber. Consider what your benefits offer in the long run, and how much they have the potential to earn with your support. Look at your budget. How much do you need to cover chamber expenses? You might want to keep fees low, but you also have to make sure you don’t end up in the red! There is no chamber of commerce without its members. As you set your fees, keep in mind your target member’s interests, needs and capabilities. How do I collect chamber of commerce membership fees? Once you know what you want your fees to look like, you have to figure out how to collect them! Theoretically you could take it one fee at a time, taking payments over the phone and adding receipts to a shared drive… but that’s a whole lot of messy, tedious work. This is where chamber of commerce software will be your friend! Imagine being able to easily process member fees, manage your membership base, build a directory and more. The best chamber of commerce software should address all your pain points in one place. Looking for a recommendation? Try out WildApricot! Our award-winning member management software can help you: Securely process payments Automatically send out receipts Build a members-only website Create a front-facing member directory (and back-end database!) Send out regular newsletters And more! Sign up for your 30-day free trial to see everything we have to offer your chamber of commerce. Giving back to your local business community Running a local chamber of commerce isn’t always easy, but it has the potential to make a huge difference in your industry and community. Setting fair chamber of commerce membership fees is the first step in attracting new businesses, and offering perks that really count. Remember: your work just might be what helps a small business develop and survive for years to come! 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