Miami chamber to add summer membership drive
By Tom Harlan
The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce's three-month membership drive is set to end April 20, but the chamber plans to add a multiweek summer campaign to reach its $750,000 annual goal.
Chamber officials expect to raise $500,000 to $600,000 before a celebratory Bankers Club dinner in a few weeks. A five-week campaign last fall brought in about $115,000.
The chamber, which brings in about $4 million a year through dues, grants and scholarships, launched the drive to generate revenue through new and upgraded memberships.
The chamber has about 2,000 member companies and 7,000 volunteers. Membership fees range from $450 a year for individuals to more than $10,000 for Chairman's Circle members.
The chamber has one main membership campaign, said Chairman Allen Harper, but added a blitz last fall and is considering another campaign in the summer.
Shorter, targeted campaigns would allow the chamber to show how it continuously adds programs and services to enhance membership, said membership co-chairman Mark Trowbridge.
Shorter campaigns are more manageable for leaders, Mr. Trowbridge said, and put less pressure on volunteers to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Twelve volunteer teams spent three months detailing advantages of membership to individuals and specific industries from developers to car dealers.
The teams focused on different tiers that worked to goals from $10,000 to $50,000. The top tier focused on banks.
The chamber is also working to attract companies and individuals from Palm Beach to Monroe counties with ties to Miami, said Barry Johnson, executive vice president of marketing and communications.
And international membership is targeted to represent 10% of membership growth in the future.
The chamber has also hired a market researcher compare the demographics of chambers members with the overall marketplace, Mr. Johnson said, and reveal the results at the chamber's annual conference in June.
"We're working to better understand our marketplace," he said.
Chamber officials launched a new strategic plan and made several staff additions last year after former employees were charged in the theft of $1.9 million from the chamber.
The chamber also had two presidents in less than a year before George Foyo assumed the role.
Those events forced the chamber to look internally, Mr. Harper said, and conduct individual and group surveys and interviews to become more involved with every section of business, and offer services to attract and retain members.
"We were forced to take a hard look at things," he said. "But it was very enlightening. Sometimes [programs] get too big and broad and lose focus and effectiveness."