Monday, November 24, 2014

Chambers of Commerce Everywhere Thank You!!!

Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful, that's what matters to me.

Steve Jobs

This is the week we focus on gratitude and the things that make life good. Every week I work with Chambers of Commerce all over the country and I never cease to be amazed at the incredible gifts they give to their communities every, single day. You are the unsung heroes, the silent celebrities, the faithful servants.

This week, remember why you do it. Why you give so much of yourself to this job no matter how hard it is. Remember that the work you do is for a better community and a better life for everyone who lives there.

Take some time for you and for your families and know that I am grateful for all you do and for the privilege to work with and share with so many of you.

Happy Thanksgiving,


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How important is a 501c3 for your Chamber of Commerce?

This is a question that comes up all the time in our work with Chambers. It seems lately it has been coming up more and more. I had a conversation last week, while teaching a workshop, about a Chamber that actually has board members that keep suggesting the Chamber should be doing more for the non-profit sector. Does that board really understand just what a Chamber is?  I just want to offer a few points for consideration on this topic……….

  1. WE; Chambers; are non-profits. We just aren’t charitable organizations. The non-profit designation is JUST a tax status. It doesn’t mean we aren’t supposed to make money, just that we are taxed differently.

  2. Because of our c6 status we are allowed lobbying in our budgets. The c6 eliminates us from many funding opportunities that would be available if we had the c3, charitable status. So setting up a separate c3 Chamber Foundation will open the doors for grants and will allow you to run programs like Leadership, Education and some Economic Development initiatives through a charitable channel. This gives your members the opportunity for a tax deductible contribution very often for the same things they are already investing in through your Chamber.

  3. Know going into this process that it will take some time and money to get the c3 up and running. Make sure you are being advised by someone who understands the non-profit world. If you can actually bring someone to the table who has the knowledge and will do the paperwork your success will be much easier.

  4. Use your Chamber friends that already have a c3 as a sounding board on the process and what they did to get there. It’s as easy as a reach out to your State Association network, going to ACCE discussion groups on LinkedIn or just making a few phone calls to your Chamber neighbors.

  5. A word on the non-profit members of your Chamber…… For most Chambers the non-profit member segment is the lowest investor. It’s important to have them, but they are a member just like everyone else. If we spend an inordinate amount of time on our lowest investors we all know how that plays out for us. Don’t forget the 80/20 rule when it comes to time spent on investors. In light of this, wouldn’t it be more efficient to have a charitable arm yourself so that your members have a “cause” to attach to their giving??
People understand the Red Cross, the American Cancer Society, Relay for Life and the United Way. Unfortunately, they don’t see the Chamber as a cause. Yet everything we do has a significant impact on the life of every citizen in our communities. What must you do to become a “cause” that everyone understands? Tell the stories and give them a contribution outlet!!