Chamber Ambassador programs are crucial to helping chamber staff with recruitment, field questions, and get the word out in the community. Every chamber runs their program a little differently so questions about them come up frequently in the Chamber of Commerce Professionals Group on Facebook.
This blog post is a compilation of questions asked in that group such as:
- Sunsetting the Chamber Ambassadors Group
- Starting an Ambassadors Group
- Making your Ambassadors Feel Special
- Unique Bylaws for Ambassadors
- Attendance and Ambassadors…and more
Read the answers to these questions and others as 50+ chamber professionals ring in on this topic.
Sunsetting the Chamber Ambassadors Program
Ok – y’all might think I’m crazy, but we are thinking of doing away with our fledgling Ambassador group and I’m wondering if anyone else has done that? We’ve tried various ways of getting folks reengaged with no luck. Our biggest issue is our volunteers are young (all 30s & 40s with school age kids) and they just don’t have the time. What we hear is that they are willing to help with specific events or tasks, but don’t want to be tied down to a year-long committee meeting every month. So we’re moving toward having 4-5 small committees that work on specific events and membership activities (annual dinner, business expo, golf outing, retention calls/visits, etc.) and think that maybe we could attract some new volunteers since their commitment would be for something very specific of interest, rather than general. Maybe I’m just looking for some validation that we aren’t crazy!
Christa Kozy Have you thought of having them be “virtual” or “social media” ambassadors? Helping you in the social media arena by sharing your events and posts and perhaps contributing to a blog or LinkedIn group if you have one? I’m in my thirties and have a very busy life with my daughter, but I can give my time on social media without having to miss family time
Colleen Evans We have over 160 Ambassadors who represent all age groups. We average 35 in attendance at our Ribbon Cuttings and Groundbreakings (of which we have had 125+ each year for the last couple of years). We offer points for attending R/C’s & Gb’s, Business After Hours, monthly luncheon (average 50 in attendance) and any time we call on them to help at other events. We did something just yesterday with Social Media that was fun. Starbucks was debuting a new pastry line and we offered points to any of our Ambassadors who went by and bought one of their new pastries and posted a picture of it in our Ambassador group on Facebook. We had over 30 Ambassadors participate yesterday throughout the day.
Heather Johnston We are looking at virtual ambassadors or just asking our ambassadors to commit one hour to the chamber. ie: business walks, office help, ribbon cuttings, special projects, etc.
Mary Ann Miller Jason, you’re not crazy. We all have different community cultures and you’re very smart to adapt to your members, not force them to adapt to a preconceived idea of a committee. And I love the idea of virtual ambassadors.
Welcome to the website of the National Association of Chamber Ambassadors, an organization dedicated to serve Chambers of Commerce.
WM Jones Really it depends on the needs of your Chamber. Yeah, the big Chambers can’t function without them. Paola has what, 5,000 residents? We don’t have Ambassadors, we’re a town of 2,500. You can’t compare the needs of your Chamber with a Chamber that has 160 Ambassadors. Do you even have 160 business members? Do what works best for your Chamber.
Christa Kozy We’re in a town of 2,700 and have 200 members, they are spread across the county so the virtual idea is what we’re aiming for due to geography and scheduling
Jennifer Humphries If a program is dying, kill it.
Kim Dahlsten What is the purpose of your Ambassadors?
Rena Purdy We are a chamber just shy of 200 members,1 director (me) and have 5 ambassadors and I’d never let them go! They are our best cheerleaders! Even if only 1 at a time can show at an event or help with tasks around the office, that’s one more hand we otherwise wouldn’t have. i say keep them and if they’re happy, they’ll tell”
Jill McCartney We have about 15 and usually have 10-12 at meetings. Occasionally we have a meeting with very low turnout, so we email out the list of members to call on and they email back who they want to call on. Our ambassadors usually come from people who need to develop outside sales – they have more flex schedules and it gets them out meeting lots of new people. Virtual is good, sometimes creating lots if committees instead of one means a lot more work and the same people spread thin. But you never know til you try it.
I would also mention ours meet over lunch at a different member restaurant. The friendships and camaraderie they share with each other are a big reason for the success of the group. And over lunch doesn’t cut into family time, ya gotta eat anyhow.
Mary K. Parsons We have just over 200 members and a very active Ambassador group of 17. They do so much for our chamber and I’m thankful to have them
Jason E. Camis Appreciate all the feedback. We’re exploring the digital ambassador idea right now, our challenge is they haven’t all quite adopted new technologies like they should (some refuse to even use Facebook!), even considering we have a younger chamber base than most. The good news is we don’t really lack for volunteers if we ask and there’s a need, just don’t like the regularity. I don’t feel so crazy anymore. (Now on to suggesting to my board that NCAA opening weekend should be paid holidays!)
Justin Aufdermauer I believe your Chamber will be ahead of most within five-ten years if you continue with the change you are on. It is a generational and economic shift. I believe the difficult one coming up will be creating relevancy to get board members to even want to be a policy board in the future, ever wonder why at conferences one of the number one complaints is “we can’t get our board members to show up or participate” maybe it’s because they are also volunteers yet many Chamber staff don’t treat them like it.
That was half suggestion and half rant Also, I am a chamber of 300 in a community nearing 10,000 in the area. So not a large metro chamber.
Starting an Ambassadors Group
Who has a successful ambassadors program? I’ve just had some high profile folks leave the board on good terms and want to stay involved. Also a few others who have been around a while that want ways to help the chamber that could support in this effort. Other thoughts and ideas about ambassador committees/programs welcome.
Emily Counts We have great success with our Ambassadors. Each member may designate an ambassador if they wish. Our group meets every Tuesday morning at 9:30. The group visits a new business and does a ribbon cutting or visits a new member, new managers and new locations. The visits typically last 30-40 minutes. Ambassadors go around the circle and introduce themselves, and then the host business gets a chance to share things about their business. The group asks great questions and we often turn those visits into blog posts. We usually have about 25-30 Ambassadors attend each week (we have 300 members). There are about 50 Ambassadors on our email list. We send emails every Monday with the location for the next day’s visit.
Beth Bridges We are clear to them that they ARE the Membership Committee. We depend on them to help us recruit, engage and retain members. In return,we treat them like incredibly valuable resources.
Last year, we switched to a points program and as long as they are cool about it (i.e. no fighting, complaining or points-grubbing), we will keep it. So far so good.
They can “spend” the points on events which have a cost, special advertising/promotional opportunities and even membership.
We launched a Digital Ambassador program at the same time, which hasn’t been as successful, but I got some ideas at WACE on how to make adjustments.
Jason E. Camis Beth – do you have both Digital Ambassadors and another group then? And do you use the same point system for both?
Beth Bridges Yes, both Traditional and Digital. Both get same points and spend them the same. The first version of Digital Ambassador didn’t quite go as I hoped, so I’m working on 2.0.
Shelle Summers Do any of your Chambers belong to the National Association of Chamber Ambassadors? Got invitation to the April conference and wonder if we should attend. Appreciate your advice.
Erika Wehrwein Our Ambassador committee is awesome! They are mostly the sales or business development positions not the high profile people because high profile people have too busy to make the time commitment required. I call the Ambassadors Rockstars! and they love it. I added a section to my weekly email Ambassador update called “Referral Rockstars” and list the ambassadors who brought in a new members. We also announce it at our monthly Ambassador meeting. They love getting called the Referral Rockstar. I also made new name tents for our meeting last month and each nametag says “Rockstar” and then their name and business. Last year we started to planning ambassador and significant other outings and it has helped bring the group a lot closer. We played Wally Ball, gathered for dinner at a struggling restaurant, attended a night at the local race track and we have a business & personal security training next Friday (a member is do the training for free).
Suzanne Arthur Shirey Wow, I’m quite envious! Our Ambassador program is struggling. I have around 15 Ambassadors, and more than half are retired, been Ambassadors for 20+ years. It’s hard to bring in new and keep because age difference is so great. I’m trying to figure out how to give other duties besides ribbon cuttings. I would love to see anyone’s Ambassador guidelines, or suggestions for this sticky matter.
Erika Wehrwein Here are some of the things our Ambassadors do.
- Present a plaque and a bag of goodies at ribbon cuttings.
- They work registration at our BAH.
- They work a variety of shifts at the annual golf outing.
- They work a variety of jobs at our monthly breakfast meeting. We have over 300 people who attend and we need lots of help. We also have a sponsored award at this meeting and the Ambassador who won the “Ambassador of the Month” is awarded in front of the audience. Everyone who helped that morning names is read off and asked to stand and be recognized.
- They do Face-to-Face visits and get to get inside of businesses and thank them for their Chamber membership.
- We hold an annual Ambassador Team building.
- They mentor new members for 6 months.
Our monthly Ambassador meetings are lots of fun. We always start off with a fun question and this gets everyone hyped up.
Jay Handler Recruit, engage and retain huh? GOOD STUFF, BETH!!!
Shelle: When and where is the Chamber Ambassador Conference?…
Suzanne: I think you’d need to bring in a good handful of new Ambassadors all at once. Maybe 5 or 6, so that it’s not one person who suddenly feels like the only new kid. Lots easier to be in a group of “new kids.”
What our Ambassadors do:
- work check-in at mixers
- call existing members to thank and remind them of events
- work booth at trade shows
- attend ribbon cuttings
- recruit new members
- actively share and comment on FB posts and events
- hand out, email and share invites to events
- other projects/events as needed. They are the first people I turn to whenever I need help.
Shelle Summers Conference is April 24-26 in Branson, MO.
Brad Ball Thank you all! Great ideas on ambassadors. Very happy to have found this group.
Making your Ambassadors Feel Special
Thanks to Frank Kenny and Jay Handler for their suggestions at#WACE14! Here’s the YouTube video I made from my cell phone congratulating our January 2014 Ambassador of the Month (I hope it’s not too hokey)!
Congratulations to Cory Nott of The Referral Institute Oakland for being the January 2014 Ambassador of the Month! If you’d like to learn…
Ambassadors and their Bylaws
Do any of you have an Ambassador group under your 501 C 6 that has their own Bylaws? It is my understanding that a 501 can only have one set of Bylaws. Does anyone know if that is true?
Ali Crain Yes this is true. Why would you want this group to have a set of bylaws as opposed to ‘rules & regulations’ in which to operate by (out of curiosity)?
Becky Ibison Brooks I don’t want them to and actually wasn’t aware they had their own until I asked them to quit doing ribbon cuttings etc for non-members. I have a meeting with them in a couple of weeks and just want to make sure I have correct information. Thanks very much!
Ali Crain Ah! Interesting.
Ali Crain Are they by chance incorporated separately? I was with a chamber before that this happened too and it became a nightmare. Had to dissolve the incorporation and essentially ‘take back’ the Ambassadors because they were going rogue
Becky Ibison Brooks No Ali Crain they operate completely under our 501. They are under our annual audit and at this time they are a bit of a nightmare for me. They don’t want to our Chamber to have any authority over them, they use our facility for all of their meetings, they pay no money to cover cost of the audit or the use of our copier etc. Yet they are bound and determined they can offer ribbon cuttings to anyone member or not. I have been gentle with them as I realize this is how they think it has been for 26 years but now I think they are a detriment to our organization.
Ali Crain Eek. They are a committee of the chamber and therefore need to abide by your ‘rules’. I know you know that. Just stating the obvious. Do you have a board member who can intervene for you? It’s always good to put a volunteer between you & an issue. But the bottom line is the plug needs to be pulled and a new era started. Good luck!!
Gail Lofing Our ambassadors have by-laws as well. It is a nightmare sometimes. We have tried without success to change their structure. It has been this way for many, many years and some of the older members are adamant things stay the same.
Gail Lofing They do operate under our 501(c)6. I think the best way to describe the relationship is we let them go ahead and think their by-laws are governing but when it comes right down to it, the Chamber by-laws are THE governing document. As stated by someone else, their by-laws are more of the procedure document. However, if we ever told them that was what they are, it would not be pretty! It’s sometimes like dealing with spoiled children!
Becky Ibison Brooks I know exactly what you mean Gail Lofing. The problem is their resistance to change. We have some that have been part of the group for 20 + years. Ours are all basically retired ladies their Bylaws state no men allowed
Gail Lofing Sounds familiar with the exception of no men! That is kind of odd! All of our ambassadors are supposed to be employees of members. We have a couple of retired folks but mostly all still working age.
Melissa Fetterhoff I thought I’ve heard it all…. I was wrong!
Ali Crain So a couple of random thoughts – is there a particular task these ‘red hat ladies’ enjoy that maybe you could ‘assign to them and give them a special name while pulling the other ambassador duties back under the fold? Also, who promotes the ribbon cuttings? If you don’t already, then maybe start (promotion before & picture after on social media) but only promotion of your members and make that very clear to these ladies and the non-members they are insisting on doing them for. Or have a different type of promotion for the non-members? Also, verify with someone with legal knowledge about the additional bylaw thing. I’m pretty sure I’m right. Armed with that expert information, you have a starting place with them. They are a committee and as such operate under the direction of the chambers board of directors.
Becky Ibison Brooks Ali Crain I spoke with a credible not for profit consultant and you are correct. There can only be one set of Bylaws (ours). We don’t attend non member ribbon cuttings anymore. We bought our own scissors and do ribbon cuttings if they refuse to do members. They will only schedule two cuttings a month so if they are doing them for non-members we do our members without them. After talking with this consultant I am sure we must make some very necessary changes even if feelings are hurt. Thanks for your input. Days like this I feel like I live in a world of my own. I am a long time resident of the community and love a lot of these women but my loyalty is to the Chamber, its well being and our Members!
Ali Crain You are most welcome. And unfortunately change of this magnitude often results in hurt feelings and anger. But is you have your board behind you and you know that it is best for the chamber that is what is important.
Robert Goltz Again, an Ambassador group gone rouge. I hear all the time of issues that come with Ambassadors group. They believe they have more power then they should in an organization. How do they get this perceived power? No matter what they are a committee of the Chamber, no power in making decisions on programing and telling staff what they will and will not do. That is the Board of Directors responsibility. If you have such a group you may want to disband it or have your Board meet with them and let them know what their responsibility is. “To assist the Chamber with the growth and being a liaison between members and staff for information and member service. There are a lot of Ambassadors Groups that are really good and have guidelines.
How Do you Get Ambassadors to Attend
How many of you have an active Chamber Ambassador group? How do you encourage this group to support the local business community by attending Chamber events (Ribbon Cuttings, Chamber meetings) How do you recruit new Ambassadors to join?
Colleen Evans We have an Ambassador group of over 175. We usually start the year with 100-125 who indicate they want to be an Ambassador for the year, but the group usually grows by another 50+ throughout the year. We have a monthly luncheon where they network and have become like a referral group themselves. We had 158 Ribbon Cuttings/Groundbreakings this year (an average of 3 per week) and we average 30 in attendance at them. You can go the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce Facebook page and go to the 2013 Ribbon Cutting photo album. Our Ambassadors not only support by attending that day, but usually go back and try to do business with them. We don’t recruit except that our Ambassador group has a great reputation and people want to be part of it.
Gail Lofing Colleen do you charge your Ambassadors a membership fee to belong to the group? We have an active group of about 30-35 members that pay $252 per year to be a part of the group. The fee covers their lunches each month as well as activities they take part in during the year i.e. the annual chili cook-off, festival of trees, various parades etc. They also attend ribbon cuttings, ground breakings, grand openings etc. as well. We have a staff member who is the liaison to the group and informs them of all of the upcoming events and attends their meeting each month.
Robert Goltz We have 16 Ambassadors in our program. We add a new ambassador for every 30 members currently. They are very active and work great for us. They have special scarves they wear, earn points for use of chamber marketing programs and have a waiting list. They go through an application process also. No charge to be a member.
Colleen Evans We do charge, but only $25 per year. They pay for the luncheon and I usually price them at $10 – $12 dollars. Part of their responsibilities as an Ambassador is to attend Ribbon Cuttings/Groundbreakings but we also call on them to help with some of o…See More
Dave Etchie We currently have 17 Ambassadors with a maximum of 25 members. Our Ambassadors are required to attend at least 50% of the scheduled events. The Ambassadors pay for uniforms, Blazer for formal events, Polo shirts for the warmer weather and a vest for the cooler periods. The Polo and the Vest are embroidered with the Chamber Ambassador Logo. Nametags are worn with the Ambassadors name and his business. The Ambassador Chair has a special badge signifying his title. Monthly meetings are held with the Chamber Liaison in attendance.
Stickers for Ambassadors
Yes, I am not too proud to bribe my Ambassadors
We used to have little stickers they could put on their business cards. Ran out of stickers (or so I thought) and didn’t have the budget to get more. Found some in an old drawer and I thought I’d put them to use.
Do you do stickers? If so, do they contribute to the happiness of your Ambassadors? What’s your take?
Melissa Fetterhoff STEALING this idea!!!!!!! What size are those little gold nuggets of awesomeness???
Beth Bridges about 3/4 inch wide by 1/2 inch tall. They look great on a business card.
Melissa Fetterhoff thanks!!!!!
Suzanne Arthur Shirey I love this, too! My only problem is half my Ambassadors are retired…. How do I get others interested when we have mostly retirees that continue serve?
Stephanie L. Wright Question, having them place these on their business cards, doesn’t it cover up a good portion of the info, especially if the card is two sided? I like the idea, just asking for more info. Thank you
Beth Bridges Suzanne: I only have one retired Ambassador and she has business cards already. I think you recruit and target the people you want in Ambassadors. And I have perks for them that are business and self-promotion focused.
Stephanie: They are fairly small stickers (3/4 by 1/2 inch). Most cards have at least that much room. I looked at about a dozen I have here and they all have a place you could put them, just one would have to cover a graphic.
Stephanie L. Wright Thank you Beth..I will check into doing this for my Ambassadors. They are now 15 strong and would love the exposure!
Jamie Wiles Claycamp Beth Bridges how bout the real question… do you always or often do video reminders of meetings??? Is this b/c you had something to show or b/c it seems more personal and effective? I can say I’ve never done a video invite/reminder to a meeting
John S Tolson Beth is cutting edge and forward thinking! You Go Girl!
Beth Bridges Jamie: I did it this time because I had something to show. I will find out next week if it’s a good strategy and will let you know.
John: Thank you but this is an old, old Chamber strategy that I didn’t by any stretch invent. Oh … unless you mean the bribery by video. I’ll own that LOL
John S Tolson Bribery by video (YouTube).
Mark Sturdevant Wait, I want one!
Nancie Gray I like this idea and will be sharing with our Membership Director who runs our Ambassador program.
Beth Bridges You bring me a new member, Mark, and you got it!
Ali Crain This is an awesome idea. Love it!
The Role of Ambassadors
Tell me about your Ambassadors committee- what role do they play for your chamber?
Ali Crain Starting a response on this so it will get to the top of the list. I think it got lost in the shuffle. Most Ambassador groups assist with contacting existing members, some recruiting and usually assisting with event set up & such (signing in, greeting, etc).
Mark Sturdevant (why is this not linking?!) has a unique community Ambassador program as well ….
Mark Sturdevant Hey Ali, active residents and business owners learn about their community history, current events and businesses. Then they share what they learn with others. They are called, Goodwill Ambassadors. Currently we have 135 enrolled. http://www.lahabrabuzz.com
Mark Sturdevant 360
How many hours is your position? How many staff members do you have to help you? How many volunteers? Do you have an Ambassadors group? Who sets all this up?
I am the only employee at 28 hours weekly… desperately need to get volunteers and start an Ambassadors group- but have no one to help get it all going.
Melissa Waldrop Cook Bless you! Where are you located?
Frank Kenny Sounds like a great topic for a Chamber Focus Show episode.
Bobbie Fitts Martin I am a staff of one as well at 40+ hours per week. My Board Chairman appointed a board member to chair the ambassadors committee and they helped start an ambassadors group. An email was sent to the entire membership asking for anyone interested in being part of the group to come forward and 15 signed up in the first two weeks. They are out there, they just need to be asked…
Melissa Fetterhoff I’m the full time/salaried (ie 50+) hour pres/ceo. we have two part time (admin asst – 28 hrs, membership services – 20 hours). we do have an ambassador committee – but we do all the prep for their work (prep committee meetings, prep lists for them to contact, etc) we do have amazing volunteers and a great board
Mark Sturdevant Take a deep breath and lead. If people know what you want, they will help. Just like you have done here, you have asked. You cannot do it alone.
Frank, let’s do this!
Teri Wilson Edwards Up until almost 2 years ago, I had an assistant. The board at that time decided to take that position away and plans were to use that money to hire a downtown development person- that has yet to happen. So I have been on my own for this time and I feel like I am drowning slowly….
I’ve talked to the board about starting an Ambassadors group- and everyone nods their heads, but no one has the time to help get it going…. I’m sure I could have a great group if the people were asked- but I don’t see myself having the time to also oversee this group very much.
My chamber is unique in that we hold the state contract for the local Deputy Registrar agency- so I also oversee that office. (I have a manager and an assistant manager there- but it’s in my duties to handle anything that is needed there.)
I am planning to ask my officers to meet with me so we can have a heart-to-heart… we are in an area that is seeing an influx of businesses due to the Utica and Marcellus Shale plays… so I am getting busier.
Melissa Fetterhoff I agree with Mark… ask. I’d say – spearhead the search for an ambassador committee yourself. we are working on boosting our ambassador committee – i included a blurb in my weekly e-blast and have about 7 new members.
this is what we said:
We are in the process of expanding our Ambassador Committee. Are you the type of person who enjoys meeting new people? Do you want to expand your networking circle? Do you have two hours per month you can dedicate to this?
Contact Melissa today!
Mark Sturdevant When Frank gets the last show done, you may find some helpful information there.
Jamie Wiles Claycamp I am the only full time employee with one part time (20 hours) staff member. We do not have any regular volunteers. DESPERATELY need to build ambassadors and better committees. Our board has taken on tourism and economic development to get us to where we are!
Bobbie Fitts Martin how many members do you have that 15 came forward… I wish we could get this return!
Bobbie Fitts Martin I have 195 members. A few of the volunteers are retired or are stay at home moms and they help me in the office a few days a week so I can go see members. The others who work have helped by selling tickets to my events, working registration at bus after hrs and working at events. This program was started in mid spring so it is a work in progress…
April Rome Wehrs Building my second chamber from an “existing- social club” to active and on the road to essential, I can attest that it starts with a “ready” board of directors. I sought out the leaders who were ready to move it forward, asked for their trust and backing and promised a chamber they would be proud to acknowledge, and delivered on it. We are on our way to accreditation, historic membership, very exciting times, but I have to work at it and keep them fired up. As the revenue builds, I am ready to hire more staff. PS. I do have a great board and committee involvement. We made it very official this year. It gives it more status.
Jason E. Camis Teri Wilson Edwards, we’re a 2-person staff, up from 1 1/2 (and the 1/2 being an assistant to now being a full-time membership/marketing person) just two years ago. Admittedly, we had some money to work with in the bank, but I made the case to the board that we could break even paying for a 2nd FT person within 3 years and we’re going to actually do it in two. It’s allowed us to raise the bar in what we offer, thus growing membership and revenue. We have both Ambassadors (10-15 active, doing retention calls and our business expo) and “Friends of the Chamber” (folks that are just willing to help out at events when they can).
I’ll add – one of the best things for us being small is that our official office hours are M-F, 9-12 and 1-4pm. Granted one of us is usually there by 8am, we often work through lunch or have meetings, and sometimes stay past 4, but mentally it’s good because we don’t feel guilty if we do leave at 4pm or we don’t get in until 9am.
Beth Bridges There is probably someone in your community who is EAGER to help. They just need to be asked. Let them come in and leverage their energy for one task: building an Ambassador group.
Ambassadors and Alcohol
Ah, ending the week feeling like a total buzz kill.
Just finished updating our mixer agreement to include some heaving duty wordage regarding the serving of alcoholic beverages. And updating the Ambassador Badge Agreement to include a policy about the consumption of adult beverages. I am uploading them to the files tab if anyone would find them helpful.
Disclaimer: They have been read and approved by our CEO, but not reviewed by an attorney.
Michael Pingree “will refrain from consuming alcoholic beverages while working at
check-in during a mixer” | Does that mean they can get hammered once they are done checking people in?
Beth Bridges Yah, actually, because I can’t control what they do with their life. But then they aren’t conducting themselves in a professional manner and may be asked to resign as an Ambassador.
And I know you were being facetious, but that could be the actual scenario here. Not fun having to think of this stuff.
Melissa Fetterhoff thanks for sharing Beth! Definitely not fun having to this of this stuff… ugh….
Michael Pingree At a group where I am a Board members, I am referred to as Mr. Doom b/c I always look at what COULD go wrong so we can be prepared.
Beth Bridges Yep. And a big part of reducing liability is having made it clear that the Chamber doesn’t endorse, support or encourage such things. But in California, anyone can be sued by anyone else at any time for anything.
Stephan Wurzburg Would an “ethics” clause in your ambassador agreement help take care of the “Mr. Doom” scenario? IE- like what you have to sign in your Student Handbook. And don’t corporations have a “morality clause” too? Might be something to look at in order to ensure you are protected even “off the clock”.
Beth Bridges Values
- Ambassadors are valuable and highly regarded volunteers for the Chamber. They are not employees or official representatives. Their service is at will and can be ended at any time by either the Chamber or the Ambassador without further obligation.
- Ambassadors will understand and promote the goals and mission of the Clovis Chamber.
- Ambassadors must be a Clovis Chamber member in good standing (no more than 30 days past due).
- Ambassadors will represent themselves and the Clovis Chamber in a professional manner at any event or activity where they are acting as a volunteer and will hold the highest standards of conduct.
Beth Bridges Right. “Acting as volunteer” covers everything. We were very careful to make the alcohol non-consumption specific to the mixer check-in table and inside the booth. But then, if you get falling down drunk AT the mixer, then perhaps a discussion needs to take place regarding “professional conduct” while representing the Chamber.
We’ve been thinking about this quite heavily since Aug 21.
Stephan Wurzburg Well keep me posted and may have to “borrow” your agreement to use with our Ambassadors as we had a similar situation arise a while back.
Beth Bridges *sigh* … I actually don’t think it’s going to turn out well. The person who triggered this is probably going to be pretty unhappy/embarrassed. And then a couple others who enjoy their cocktails but are always in control are probably going to be unhappy about being in the fallout. The rest will probably see it as a non-issue. I have the Ambassador meeting on Monday. Not looking forward to it. Fortunately the CEO is totally backing me up and any questions about the policy go straight to him.
Cheat Sheet for Ambassadors
Do any of you provide a “Cheat Sheet” script (or any other tool) for your ambassadors to use when approaching prospective members?
Jane E Abe Yes. You want to make sure they are representing your organization correctly.
Suzanne Snow Nilsson Thank you, Jane. We’ve not done it before, and relied upon their membership experience to guide their approach. I think something standardized would be more effective, and they can customize it with their own experiences.
Jay Handler We recommend training them THOROUGHLY on the real mission of the Chamber, but don’t recommend scripts. Talking points, SURE! Here’s the thing: If only 8-12% of your membership is ever going to attend networking functions, we shouldn’t start selling from that benefit. Unfortunately, most Ambassadors are engaged specifically to attend those types of events and feel most comfortable talking only about networking and ribbon-cuttings. So…while we know that those networking functions are vital to the 8-12% that show up, they are unimportant to the other 90%. The Ambassadors need to know about the Legislative Agenda…the success stories…the things the Chamber is doing on behalf of ALL business-owners in the community so that they can tell THOSE stories in the sales process, ensuring that the benefit fits the prospect. The challenge is to allow them to do so in their own, unscripted but WELL-PRACTICED words. They are unpaid volunteers who should sound like they’re unpaid volunteers. Having them speak like your Membership professionals kind of makes them salespeople, doesn’t it? It’s a lot to ask, but if you have the right Ambassadors, they can do it with your help.
Nancy Leyes Myrland Suzanne, I think it’s a great idea to provide a recommended script, and to change it every few months to reflect recent chamber activity that you want to make sure they mention. When I was on the Membership Marketing Council at our chamber, I was constantly amazed at the lack of institutional memory my co-committee members had about the chamber, and the important and critical work we were involved in for the city. This goes for staff, too, as there is turnover, and people soon forget that you were influential in x, y and z. Feeding information to all of these parties, including board members, helps them know how to best talk about what is important to you based on the positioning goals you have established. Also teaching them to then match these talking points with the specific member’s needs is also critical.
Who oversees the activities of your Ambassadors? Do you have a staff member at every Ambassador meeting? Does a staff person send out important dates, etc.? Or is it all up to the committee themselves and a volunteer chair?
Our group needs better leadership, and it seems like the past few chairs are too out of touch with the Chamber to be effective leaders, so I was thinking about having a staff person lead the group. I think the group (chair excluded) feels like its just floundering aimlessly and needs more support and guidance.
There is usually a staffer person present at their meetings, but too often the Chair doesn’t allow them input.
Brandon Plotnick We have a staffer that oversees the program, handles assignments, monitors progress, etc. Our membership person handles that so we can effectively use them to do visits, etc. We have a chair, but they basically serve as the glue of sorts.
Debra Foster Williams We have a staff person that oversees the program also. Similar to Brandon’s post.
Beth Bridges I oversee our Ambassador program. We don’t have a chair.
Colleen Evans Staff person (me) that oversees the program. Our chair is the one I work closely with for our monthly luncheon and he/she is the one who facilitates the Ribbon Cutting and/or Groundbreaking while I stand back and take the picture.
Kristina Wiltgen I am the lead on our Ambassador Committee. I send out notices on events and run the meetings. I can see our group being a very rogue committee if it was any other way.
Melissa Fetterhoff We have a staff (myself currently) assigned to the committee who really oversees, makes assignments, sends emails, etc. the chair has been chair for several years and just runs the meetings – with input from myself of course.
As much as i love allllll of my volunteers, it seems that whenever we’ve had a committee that has zero involvement from the chamber – the committee ends up falling off…
John S Tolson Ditto. I am the Membership Director and Staff liaison for the Ambassadors. We have a Chair & Vice Chair, new each year. I send out the communications/reminders/make up he agenda.
Michael Pingree I am one of 2 volunteer leaders of our ambassador group. We have no ongoing input from the staff. They told us what they wanted and we execute it. However, the board does try to interject itself every so often… I handle all communications and my partner takes care of the rest.
Carmen Inman Our Membership Service Coordinator takes care of our Ambassadors. She sends out the notices and runs the meetings. She also takes care of our Ambassador points for the Ambassador of the Month and Ambassador of the Year award