Strategic Sponsorships: Aligning Members With Your Chamber’s Mission

A recent webinar presented by Jessica Simpson, VP of Membership, Greater Pensacola Chamber, addressed the issue of Strategic Sponsorships.  The following is my take away.

It's a mindset from moving away from individual transactions to a partnership that could last multiple years.


She started out by talking about Total Resource Campaigns and at the end of the day, they're all about a sponsorship drive.


Strategic sponsorships is all about the opportunity to align what you do with possible sponsors on issues they care about.


It allows a member/sponsor to align their sponsorship awareness with a program of work at the chamber (workforce, education, technology). If you do it right, you will see your engagement grow with those sponsors.


It’s also important to treat these relationships as partnerships which will allow you to create longterm commitments and not just create one-off transactions.  You don’t want to be in the transaction business, you want to be in the partnership business.


Start having conversations with possible sponsors to find out what they care about and what they will support.  If it’s in your program of work as a chamber, you’ve got a match (i.e. quarterly breakfast on a specific subject; Economic, Legal, Health Care, Education, etc.).

Suggestions on who might support those special quarterly breakfasts per issue:


  • Bank – economic updates
  • Hospital – health care trends
  • College – education, workforce
  • Law Firm – legal trends, policy and regulatory issues


I would suggest a three-year commitment to be a named partner for any program you create.  It’s also important that you communicate to your members the support of the named sponsor throughout all your communication channels.


Think holistically when setting up a possible partnership program, create a plan and ask your members to sponsor it!

Dropped Member Campaigns

This blog post is based on my note taking of a recent webinar I attended featuring Kathy Blank, CCE, VP McKinney Chamber in Texas, on dropped member campaigns.


If you’re in the membership business, you know this group of leads are your hottest prospects.


She talked about four steps to win back members: Analyze, Target, Make a Plan and Execute.  The following were her comments, in each category, to help conduct an effective dropped member campaign.




  • Survey your drops to gain insight on why they did not renew;
  • Was their membership essential spending or discretionary spending?;
  • Did you lose members due to closures vs money being tight?; and finally
  • Clean your lists, don’t spend good money after bad.




  • Create a comeback program on your website.
  • Create some virtual events that target lapsed members.


Make a Plan


  • Did you extend memberships, specifically in the hospitality industry knowing that they were hurt the most?
  • Did you show value over the past year during Covid and how you helped your members navigate some of the government benefits to the small business community, including but not limited to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) program?




  • Continue to build relationships with your lapsed members and prospect members.  Stay focused.
  • They will quit the Chamber, but they won’t quit the person (staff) and that’s why relationship building is so important.


Remember, it’s important to use all the communication vehicles available to you to connect with your lapsed members.


  • Calls
  • Email
  • Direct mail
  • Member-get-a-member campaign
  • Social Media


Once you’ve done your homework, now it’s time to “just invite them back!”


And remember to engage those rejoins immediately with a plan as if they were first time members.  Don’t overwhelm them but do have a steady drumbeat of communications on how they can take advantage of their membership now that they have rejoined.


One thing I like to talk about that was not part of this webinar is the idea of revenue versus the number of members your chamber has on the books.  Have you heard the saying, “don’t trip over quarters to pick-up pennies?”  Over my 20 years of doing membership, those penny members are the neediest and will leave you at the drop of a hat.


And my final comment, don’t get caught up in the number of members but focus on the quality of the member.


For a great Association Now article titled, Win Back Your Lapsed Members, that details the four steps above, can be found HERE.