From Sheree Anne

Building Our Future While Minding the Present (and a Sleeve of Saltines)

The past two months have brought confusion, conflicting information, stress, challenge, and heartbreak. Despite that, chambers have never been more critical.

I don’t want us to come out of this crisis “like we were”. I don’t want chambers to just survive COVID-19. I want us to come out of this better than we were going in. And I believe we can.

Community-Based Mission

You’ve been working on behalf of and for your whole community – solving its biggest challenges. That holistic mindset is crucial during this pandemic, and will be even more important afterward. The crisis caused us to double-down as the information hub, solution center, convener and leader in our communities. We don’t have time for the little things, because we’re focused on the biggest challenges. That’s the role we’re meant to play, and we need to continue to focus there.

Rethinking Chamber Business Models

Your annual fundraising dinner might not be an option for quite some time. And as physical distancing restrictions lift, economic impacts will linger. This means regular revenue sources might not be available for all of your traditional events and services.

This is a crisis like we’ve never seen, and it’s a chance to think beyond just monetizing what you’ve always done. It’s a time to ask yourself: Are we delivering the best, unique benefits and services that our community needs, and monetizing that?

Membership as a percentage of overall revenue has been flat or declining for years, and with lean budgets everywhere, broad membership will be an even harder sell. Diversifying revenue is critical, including options like:

  • Mergers/acquisitions: Challenging economic times bring the chance to become stronger together and combine resources with other entities
  • Foundation funding: Leverage your chamber’s 501(c)(3) to deliver mission-based work
  • Investor models: Allow supporters to invest in specific efforts and co-create solutions
  • Fee-for-service: Monetize your expertise, customized service and consulting to deliver immediate ROI

So, I Served My Son a Sleeve of Saltines for Lunch…

… and I don’t feel bad about it. Before you call the authorities, my child eats well and happens to love saltines. I lost track of time on a particularly Zoom-filled workday while managing my new home-based middle school he attends. He caught me with two minutes to spare before a critical call, so I passed him a sleeve and sent him on his way.

Why am I telling you this? Because I gave myself a break. And you need to do that too.

My son gets a ton of my time and attention whether it’s soccer, playing games or watching wrestling together. But some moments need to be phoned in, like a sleeve of saltines for lunch. And I needed to give myself a break about that.

Make sure you take care of yourself, take breaks, go outside and recharge however you do so. Take time off and time away from screens. Regularly check on how your team is doing.

You can’t help your community through and past this crisis if you and your team are depleted. Give yourself a break, because we’re going to need your incredible leadership for the long haul.

We’d love to help any way we can, so feel free to reach out to me. 703-998-3540 or


Suggested Reading

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