The Columbus Chamber recently kicked-off Discover Columbus, a 3-series community onboarding program designed to help new hires and new residents get to know the community.
Each 4-hour session includes breakfast and offers a behind-the-scenes look at:
our unique history
city services and future plans
comprehensive education system
award-winning health system
diverse recreation and wellness programs
For more information, reach out to Cindy Frey, President & CEO of the Columbus Area Chamber.
Guest blog post from Dave Kilby, President & CEO of the Western Association of Chamber Executives (WACE)
What would your advice be to a new professional after you have 30+ years in the chamber profession? Our counterparts at the Western Association of Chamber Executives (WACE) share their latest podcast interview with Diane Schwenke who is preparing to retire from the Grand Junction, CO Chamber as she shares the secrets to her career longevity at one chamber while reflecting on the biggest changes and challenges to the chamber industry during her tenure.
Road Trips. Intercity Visits. Whatever you call them, taking the time to travel to other chambers to tour and talk about what's working - or what's not working - while sharing great ideas is a key way to growing your Chamber. The team at the Zionsville Chamber is doing just that this summer.
What a great opportunity to gather ideas & insights from communities overcoming challenges similar to your own. Allison Gutwein, Executive Director in Zionsville, is a great resource if you have questions. If you would like some suggestions of ICEA peer communities to target for a visit, please feel free to reach out to the ICEA Office for suggestions.
Guest Blog from Frank Kenny
The membership dues model known as “fair share” is unfair to your members and your chamber.
With fair share, every member gets the same features and benefits, yet some pay more than others simply because they have more employees, hotel rooms, or money on deposit. Click to read more.
(*there has been a lot of discussion on peer calls about fair share vs. tiered dues models. This blog post states the case for a transition to tiered dues. There is also a wealth of information on new and emerging membership models from this ACCE link.)
Guest blog post by Melahni Ake, Everyday Leaders
Communication is the key to our success in life. In every culture we must learn a language in order to achieve results. If you want to share a feeling, emotion or belief, you must find a way to engage your thoughts into words or actions to be understood. Even when we are infants, before we learn to talk, we are still communicating. Babies cry when they are hungry and a mother or care giver instantly knows the child needs attention just because that is the signal to the click to read more . . . .
Guest blog post from Bob Harris, CAE
Association policies are among the board’s governing documents. Policies are the wisdom of a prior board adopted and passed on to successive directors. Policies are your “friend,” communicating the best method for handling an issue.
For example, in a discussion about finances you might hear, “Should we have an audit this year? How did the last board handle it? Can it just be a compilation? Can a committee do it?”
If a prior board had adopted a policy, it would remove uncertainty. For instance, “The board will cause an audit or review to be undertaken by an independent financial professional at least every other year.”
Policies interpret bylaws. They should not be inserted in the bylaws. Bylaws amendments must be voted on by the membership. Policies can be adopted, amended, or repealed by a vote of the board.
Pandemic Policy Adaptation
Policy manuals were OK before the pandemic. The pandemic has exposed some faults in policies. With the help of Elizabeth Krile, CAE, executive director at AIA Columbus, we have suggested revisions.
Technology Rainchecks – Education has been transformed to on-line webinars. When the power goes out, the instructor loses connection, or someone hijacks the slide deck with graffiti, there should be a policy on cancellation and rescheduling. Now all webinars have a “raincheck policy” indicating what will occur if the webinar is shut down unexpectedly.
Video Cameras – Directors transitioned to remote, on-line meetings. They adjusted quickly but would not turn on their video cameras. For more effective meetings, the board set a policy that all directors should have and use their video. Without video cameras, the chair must do a roll call before any vote to ensure nobody has dropped off and a quorum exists.
Virtual Confidentiality – The association already had a policy on confidentiality of discussions and documents at board meetings. For remote meetings it is uncertain who might be listening to a director’s call. The policy was amended to cover remote meetings in unknown background environments.
Check Signing - “When the pandemic struck, checks were circulated by mail only to have someone intercept and forge a check,” said Elizabeth Krile at AIA Columbus. “When we met in person the officers could view and sign checks. Meeting virtually, the association is revising the check signing policy by exploring options such as online bill paying, ACH and credit card usage. The new policy will integrate transparency and financial safeguards.”
Remote Staffing – Staff have always worked at the office. The employee manual requires the physical office be open 9 to 5. This policy obviously does not work during a pandemic. The new policy will be a hybrid model, combining remote and office environments. For HR issues, be sure to consult with legal counsel.
Rules of Order – The bylaws prescribe “Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised 12th Edition.” With the pandemic board meetings are on-line, shorter, and more frequent. Meeting rules are respected but procedures and quorums have been relaxed.
Annual Meeting Requirement – The bylaws state the “annual meeting will be held no later than the last week of the fourth month of the year.” The meeting was cancelled because of the pandemic. A policy was adopted to allow the board to set the date.
Financial Audit – A full audit by an independent financial professional annually was prescribed in the bylaws. The board amended that to allow an audit, review of compilation to be conducted at least every 3 years. The policy describes the process for selecting an auditor and appointing an audit committee to interface with the CPA.
Financial Safeguards – The association has policies to separate the duties of opening mail and recording checks. With fewer staff at the office, this process will be updated. Other procedures need to be tweaked in the new work environments.
A typical association has between 25 and 50 board policies. More than that and the board may want to conduct a sunset review of the manual to bring it up to date.
Adapting to pandemic conditions may require a fresh look at existing policies. Thank you to Elizabeth Krile, CAE, for collaborating on pandemic driven policies.
# # #
Note: Bob Harris, CAE, provides free governance tips and templates at www.nonprofitcenter.com.
A guest blog post from Bob Harris, CAE
Associations have postponed or cancelled many events during these challenging times.
The lost sponsorships represent significant income as a percentage of events and the
Take steps to save the sponsor relationships and revenue.
• Re-Purpose – Find new opportunities for sponsors. As the association adjusts
so do the prospects for sponsorships. Offer new opportunities for remote
learning, virtual happy hours, industry town-hall meetings, etc.
• Roll-Over – Propose to roll-over the sponsorship to the same event next year.
• Re-Direct – Offer an alternative such as funding a charitable initiative or giving to
the association’s foundation. This may allow for an IRS charitable contribution.
• Refund – The least preferable option is a refund. Be mindful of business
conditions that have impacted sponsors.
Sponsor Opportunity Menu
A sponsorship menu is an inventory of all potential opportunities. Avoid “nickel and
diming” companies for money throughout the year. Encourage a company to include
sponsorship in their annual budget.
The menu is created by staff, usually during the summer, so companies can consider
their relationship with the association for the year ahead. An excellent model is
available at https://www.okrestaurants.com/partnership_opportunities.php.
Because of the cancellations and postponements, the menu should be updated now for
2020, and promote 2021 opportunities.
Be sensitive to the changing needs of sponsors. For example, they may no longer have
funds for attendance at a conference but would appreciate increased exposure through
website banners and digital newsletter advertisements.
# # #
Note: Bob Harris, CAE, provides free governance tips and templates at
Guest Blog Post from Pat McGaughey, CPF, IOM - ChamberMentor.com and ActivatingPeople.com
War stories are starting to surface regarding secret board meetings happening without the Chamber Executive to discuss the closing of the Chamber of Commerce. If you believe there is even an inkling of something like this happening, it's time to take your job back.
The one and only person who should ever suggest the demise of a Chamber of Commerce must be the chief executive officer. If you as CEO don't think the organization can weather the storm, tell them, but if you think it's worth fighting for, then scream at them! This is your moment to take the organization back.
If you believe the organization can survive while some (or all) of your board members don't, why not turn the tables and ask them to resign? Your neck is on the line either way but if you believe in your heart you can lead the organization through the crisis, this is your moment.
Imagine getting on the phone and calling your list of business members and letting them know you are looking for leaders who aren't ready to quit. If anybody respects anyone, it's someone who's willing to put it all on the line. What a perfect time to take charge and, take your job back.
Feedback is welcome, please reply to Pat@ChamberMentor.com
Guest Blog from Patrick McGaughey, CPF, IOM
Our first BONUS BLOG during the COVID-19 pandemic featured Perry Webb, president & CEO of the Springdale, Arkansas Chamber of Commerce admitting he really didn't know what to do as we began facing this crisis. So, he said, he went back to his original management model and chose to lead by prioritizing the issues that came up. It seems to be working.
As state governments begin relaxing the shelter at home orders and allowing certain businesses to re-open, the biggest priority is helping them do it right! The current priority is just that, and the Springdale Chamber is providing business with a PLAYBOOK FOR REOPENING that any business can go online (click here) so they can hit the ground running.
What can be more essential than that? If I'm a chamber executive and don't have one of these ready for my members, I'm going to stea.. uh, plager.. uh, research this document cover to cover and then get permission to copy it A.S.A.P!
This is what they pay us for. Kudos to Perry Webb, Bill Rogers, and the entire Springdale Chamber team for developing this Playbook for Reopening Your Business.
For another example, click here for what Don Long is offering the Lake Nona Chamber of Commerce members in Florida. I continue to recommend that everyone market these reopening links as "Another Essential Service" from your Chamber of Commerce.
Note: If you have a 'playbook' for reopening, please send me the link so I may share it. Send to Pat@chambermentor.com.
Guest Blog from Bob Harris, CAE and Arturo Mariani, Life Coach
“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before,” said Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel.
Now there are hundreds of stories about chamber of commerce and personal improvement during the pandemic. People are sharing ways they are adapting.
Many of the changes have positive, long term impact. The adaptations are necessary or organic to survive, sustain, and thrive.
For example, what used to be a day-long board meeting requiring hours of travel, is being replaced by a video conference. Groups that shied away from on-line technology are rethinking the concept, realizing governance decisions can be made without the expenses of in-person meetings, meals, and travel.
Regarding staffing after the government closed offices, employees and their bosses might have thought working remotely would not work. At first it was awkward without guidelines and technology. Now it is being embraced to save time, be effective and add quality of life without the hassles and costs of commuting. Could it be the new normal?
At the Ventura County Coastal Association of REALTORS®, in California, CEO Wyndi Austin, CEO, said that employees have been able to collaborate and complete projects that often were set aside by the urgencies of the day when they worked in the office.
Associations and chambers of commerce serve as platforms for sharing concerns and learning how others are surviving. Among others, Wyoming and Minnesota chamber executives are sharing by webinars frequently.
The Colorado Society of Association Executives transformed its May membership luncheon to an online forum, including break out groups. The meeting was an hour of questions and encouragement. For instance, while some associations were thinking of foregoing dues billing for a year, others explained how they had become indispensable to members and recruitment was up.
Business associations and chambers in the Republic of Georgia amplified their advocacy by creating coalitions and sharing challenges through webinars.
Organizations are improving by evaluating activities, transforming events, and creating new services for members. Many of these will be lasting enhancements for chambers and associations.
For individuals, do not let the crisis paralyze you. Be proactive instead of waiting for the situation to pass. Many executives have kept blogs or written about how the pandemic has affected them.
Anastasia Baklan, a communications specialist at the Center for International Private Enterprise office in Ukraine, wrote about five ways the pandemic has changed life for the better. Among them, development of women in business, increased use of technology for learning, and personal development.
Some people suppress their thoughts instead sharing. They might think they are alone, or nobody else will care. During social distancing and isolation, communication can be a real gift.
Do not stifle sharing for fear of the reactions. What you share can enrich others, offering solutions and help. Knowing how others are coping can have a powerful positive impact.
By sharing and writing we lighten our own fears. All people need opportunities to express themselves. Many are fearful of taking the first step of sharing their experiences.
Receiving knowledge enhances personal understanding and self-confidence. The reader opens themself to new ideas.
The pandemic may be a good time for making improvements. Through sharing, blogging, writing, and reading, the possibilities expand. You have the power to give others encouragement through this difficult time.
This moment teaches us about sharing and adapting. We do our best and realize what is beyond our reach, such as grief, economy, and pandemic.
# # #
Note: Bob Harris, CAE, provides free governance tips and templates at www.nonprofitcenter.com. Arturo Mariani is a speaker, author, athlete and life coach in Rome, Italy. He can be contacted at email@example.com.