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February 1, 2016    
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Conflict of Interest & Local Government

I assume that your Chamber of Commerce claims to advocate for the interests of your business community.   This, of course, is a very good thing.   You must be perceived as a leader and facilitator for business and for the community as a whole.   However, be careful not to cause yourselves any unnecessary discomfort.

It is important for you to be completely and transparently separate from all government entities.   There must never be a perception of a conflict of interest.   Nothing must interfere with the efficacy of your advocacy efforts.

Here a couple of potential problems I have noticed that should be avoided.
    1. Your town is a paid-up member of your Chamber.   Every so often, I'll read a news story where a local council member is advocating to cancel the town's Chamber membership.   That, of course, will become a news story just about anywhere and will cast your Chamber (rightly or wrongly - it doesn't matter) in a negative light.   For the price of one small nonprofit membership fee, why expose your Chamber to such a negative possibility?
    2. A government official sits on your Chamber's board of directors.   Last week I noticed that a local Mayor was a member of his Chamber's Board.   Are you nuts?   If it makes sense, you can always ask a government official to attend a board meeting to provide input or receive feedback.   But to have him/her participate in board decisions is just plain crazy!

More on dealing with local governemnt next time.

As always ... let us know if you'd like some fresh ideas.
Jeff ... I'm the wrong guy to ask because I like transparent separation between Chamber and government. My guess is the "freebie" attitude goes back to the "good old boys" days. I suggest your CEO and the mayor get together and have a heart-to-heart. My other suggestion is to always have a two-tier pricing structure ... discounted or free for members and non-members pay full price. Good luck.
2/5/2016 -- Mike Flint
One thing locally in my Chamber that makes me crazy is the fact that our city DOES NOT pay a membership fee.....and apparently never has. I've checked around locally (as well as randomly around the US) and haven't found a single city/municipality who is NOT (usually) the top level membership (not a "non-profit" level!!!). I simply CANNOT seem to figure out how to get our city to "pay up"! Yet....they seem to want to attend luncheons and such that require a fee....FOR FREE!!!! Any suggestions on how the best way would be to get them to become a "Trustee" or in our case an "Executive" member??? Thanks.
2/5/2016 -- Jeff Aames
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2017 Archives
  - Frustrated?   Lonely at the top?   No support?   (10/15)
  - Mission, Schmission! ... Just Tell Your Story   (9/30)
  - What's the (Growth) Plan, Stan?   (9/15)
  - Dear Jeff (Bezos) - Part 3 of 3   (9/1)
  - Speak Up ... It's Strategically Beneficial To Do So   (8/13)
  - "I Beg Your Pardon ... Did You Say $1 Billion Per Day?"   (8/5)
  - The Pies Have It!   (7/23)
  - Possibly ... the Most Difficult Sentence to Complete   (7/10)
  - Ribbon Cuttings -- A Great Membership Opportunity   (6/25)
  - It's Time For Spring Cleaning   (6/12)
  - Five Key Reasons Chamber Members Join & Renew   (5/29)
  - Membership Benefits are NOT as Important as You Think - #1   (5/14)
  - You Must Tell Your Members What You're Doing For Them   (4/30)
  - Workforce Development ... Are You Involved?   (4/16)
  - An Idea for Learning What Your Members Want.   (4/2)
  - Make Sure You Gather the "Little Data".   (3/21)
  - Make Sure Your "Voice of Business" is Heard   (3/5)
  - Associations of Chamber Executives   (2/21)
  - Do People "Out There" Know What You Do?   (2/6)
  - Just published ... "The 21st Century Chamber of Commerce" White Paper   (1/23)
  - 2020 could be your Magic Year   (1/10)
2016 Archives
  - Ditch the Contact Form, Baby!   (12/11)
  - "About Lipstick and Pigs" (Part 2)   (11/27)
  - About Lipstick and Pigs - Part 1   (11/6)
  - "Mixers ... they're so 20th-century!"   (10/23)
  - Out-of-the-Box Branding   (10/10)
  - "Hot Deals" ... Really?   (9/25)
  - Sharing Membership Referrals   (9/10)
  - An Excellent Source of Membership Leads   (8/30)
  - A Simple Value-added Benefit for your Membership   (8/17)
  - It worked . . . Immediate Results!   (7/31)
  - A Simple Media Strategy for Your Chamber ... FREE!   (7/19)
  - "Brexit" ... Positive Chamber Outcomes   (7/3)
  - Problem-solver... "Yes!"     Savior... "No!"   (6/20)
  - I like Nathan Blecharczyk's attitude.   (6/6)
  - Are you Veteran-friendly?   (5/22)
  - Are you Relational or Transactional?   (5/9)
  - Can you say "Employee Benefit"?   (4/25)
  - Re-vitalize Your Board of Directors ... and Your Chamber   (4/9)
  - From Scotland ... a few thoughts   (3/27)
  - Young Professionals are Important + Framework2020   (3/13)
  - Just Announced ... the "Framework2020 Tour"   (3/1)
  - Money Talks so ... Make Sure it's "Happy"   (2/14)
  - Conflict of Interest & Local Government   (2/1)
  - It may be time to huddle!   (1/19)
  - And Your Mission Is ...?   (1/4)
2015 Archives
  - Introducing ... Focused Growth - "A-Team" Initiative   (12/7)
  - So ... Once You've Got 'Em, What's Your Plan?   (11/23)
  - Just a reminder!   (11/9)
  - Branding Your Chamber is a Serious Process but it Does Not Have To Be Difficult   (10/25)
  - It's Time for Someone to Step Up!   (10/12)
  - Give Them Something To Do!   (9/28)
  - Do You Want/Need a Membership Analysis?   (9/14)
  - Make Sure Your "A" Team is In Charge.   (8/30)
  - And the Fat Lady Began to Sing!   (8/16)
  - Do You Walk and Talk at the Same Time?   (8/3)
  - Helping people WANT to join your Chamber   (7/19)
  - 50% Membership Loss ... that's a Serious Loss of Revenue!   (7/5)
  - Don't Keep It A Secret!   (6/21)
  - Survey the Members that Matter   (6/7)
  - Helping Nonprofit Organizations   (5/20)
  - Helping Startup Entrepreneurs   (5/5)
  - The New Normal: Energizing your members to participate   (4/19)
  - Do you have a RAP Sheet?   (4/8)
  - What is your Real Retention Rate?   (3/24)
  - Challenging times require fresh thinking   (3/10)
  - Simplifying the Economic Development Discussion   (2/28)
  - Chamber Members want Education Programs   (2/11)
  - One of the great disconnects we choose to ignore!   (1/23)
  - The "New" Chamber of Commerce   (1/9)
2014 Archives
  - Do you have a Community Leadership Strategy?   (12/4)
  - Message for New Chairpersons of Chamber Boards of Directors   (10/22)
  - Tell your members about your business advocacy efforts   (9/2)
  - Stop the Exodus! Retain your Newer Members!   (8/4)
  - Are your Sales Staff asking the Right Questions?   (7/7)
  - Understand and use your volunteers better.   (6/22)
  - Invest in your Members. Remember who's paying the bills.   (5/5)
  - Understanding your local economy and how your members are doing   (3/20)
  - Tell your members about the 'SBA Emerging Leaders Initiative'   (3/7)
  - Why People Join the Chamber.   (2/22)
  - Please participate in the Survey.   (2/10)
  - Newsletters ... the Unfortunate Reality   (1/24)
2013 Archives
  - Are your Membership Goals Realistic?   (12/14)
  - Is your new Board focusing on membership Retention?   (11/11)
  - Happier Members means Happier Chambers of Commerce.   (10/15)
  - What about the "Younger Generation"?   (10/2)
  - What are you really developing?   (9/20)
  - What happens when the excitement dies down?   (8/26)
  - Using Technology for Education   (8/4)
  - Are you a "Member-centric" Chamber?   (7/23)
  - It probably won't be pretty but .....   (7/14)
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