Let’s pretend it’s Christmas in July…errr…May…or maybe you are nearing the end of your fiscal calendar and you have a little extra in the chamber of commerce budget.
Perhaps you’re budgeting for next year and your board has invited you to get yourself a little “something.”
Whatever the reason, if you find yourself with a little extra money this year in the budget, we thought you’d be excited to see what other chamber pros are spending their extra funds on.
We won’t mention names but the following items were on the wish list for several chamber professionals when they shared them recently in the Chamber Pros Facebook Group.
26 Things Chamber Pros Would Love to Have
The following items are on chamber pros wishlists. These ideas can help your streamline activities and events if you have a little something extra in your chamber of commerce budget. (Inclusion of a product or link is not an endorsement.)
- The Owl Labs virtual meeting camera/speaker is a great way to keep your audience engaged on video calls as it follows the speaker to ensure the one with the “conch” is always on camera.
- A label maker.
- A 65-inch TV for the board room. One chamber pro shared that a large-screen TV has been perfect for her chamber because most of her board attends meetings through Zoom. Now she doesn’t have to print agendas and financials. Everything is virtual.
- Letter folding machine. We used to call them interns but now there’s a machine for that. Apparently, you no longer have to lick stamps either!
- Subscription to Canva. They offer a limited free version as well as a paid upgrade. Before paying for the upgrade check to see if you qualify for a free nonprofit professional edition if you have a foundation.
- Sandwich boards. If your town allows sandwich boards, this interchangeable one keeps your message protected in all weather and can be switched out easily. It also has wheels! Use it outdoors for tourism or indoors at events.
- Window sign holder. This plastic double-sided picture frame with adhesive is perfect for doors and windows, keeps your message protected, and can be switched out quickly.
- Speakers or sound equipment. If you do several events that require a mic, buying your own speakers may be a good cost savings, especially if you were paying a DJ just for their equipment.
- Institute of Organizational Management. Institute isn’t a splurge, per se. It’s professional investment for chamber pros. There’s a lot to learn from instructors and peers at this US Chamber-run four-year program.
- Mics. You want everyone to be able to hear you and your experts, right? If so, invest in lavalier and hand-held mics. If you have several large events where a mic is needed for Q&As, you may want to consider one of the “throwable” microphones. They make speaking in front of a group fun.
- Costumes or mascots for different events. Costumes get people excited and complete a theme. They also help you stand out. If you buy right after Halloween, you may be able to snag several for upcoming events for less than you would normally spend for one. Mascots are a larger commitment but will bring more fun to everything you do! These “characters” are from the La Habra Chamber of Commerce and they’ve been making appearances for years.
- Drone or other video equipment like a gimble, stands, etc. Drone footage provides a new view for marketing materials and events. There are also some clever things you can do for social media and tourism.
- A camera/microphone system for the conference room. Virtual meetings are great unless everyone sounds like an adult on Charlie Brown. Investing in a good sound system, lighting, and camera will make a world of difference in your engagement on virtual meetings, events, broadcasts, etc.
- Wi-fi hotspots. Don’t let a bad signal keep you from good business.
- Ring lights that clip on to your monitor or device. We cannot say this enough, good lighting is essential to looking your best on line, which helps you connect to your audience.
- Headset mics give you hand-free options and ensure you sound your best when recording. It’s also harder for your audience to hear things in the background like your adorable chamber pup.
- DuraBalloons. Duraballoons are reusable balloons that don’t require helium. They last for several months or longer and are much stronger than traditional balloons. Plus, because they can be reused, they are less of a strain on the environment. It’s also nice not to have to worry about deflation and saggy balloons.
- Pop up banner. Get one that’s easy to transport and sets up in a minute. The branding can go a long way to drawing attention and help people identify the chamber (or the event) right away.
- Branded tent. Some of them are large and awkward, and set up may take a few minutes but outside events are much more comfortable when using one, not just for your staff but for people who enter the chamber tent too. This might warrant digging into the chamber of commerce budget sooner. Tents were in great demand during COVID. We don’t want that to happen again but planning for disasters is a good use of a windfall. Besides, that, ask yourself would you rather talk to someone about chamber membership in the hot summer sun or in the comfort of a shady area? Hot sun is not conducive to good conversations.
- Membership cards with QR Codes. Entering a hyperlink takes time and you run the risk of keying it in wrong. That’s why membership cards with QR codes are a better way. Some chambers take this concept a bit further and use them like a loyalty club, earning benefits for participation.
- Chamber keychains. Keychains are an inexpensive giveaway that people need.
- Branded tablecloth. If your chamber participates in expos/career days, etc., this item is very helpful. Plus, some events won’t let you hang a banner. A branded table cloth helps with awareness without causing you worry about hanging restrictions.
- Confetti cannons for ribbon cuttings! People get really excited about colorful explosions of celebration. Sites like UltimateConfetti.com have biodegradable confetti.
- An empty building. Whether you move your chamber to a nicer spot or open an innovation incubator or co-working space, real estate is at a premium these days. Snatch it up while you can. Note of caution: this may not be what your board had in mind when they talked about spending a “little” extra.
- Charging stations or power banks. Know when you need power? Always. A charging station can help ensure your devices are ready to work no matter how long your chamber day is or where it takes you. Charging stations will also help bring people to you at events and expos.
- Holiday décor and design elements. People love décor. You can use festive elements in your chamber lobby as well as out in front of your building. It draws attention and invites people in.
What would you do if you had extra money in your chamber of commerce budget? Add to this list and join the conversation here.