Most chamber memberships aren’t that pricey but the initial investment can seem large for companies just getting on their feet or for ones who aren’t sure they’ll get the value out of it. We all know from experience that you only get out of membership what you put in and some small business people just aren’t sure they can make the meetings, mixers, and other events. To them, a cash outlay may not seem worth it.
But should you barter a membership for something they offer?
This question sparked a lot of conversation on the Chamber of Commerce Professionals page on Facebook. And guess what? The pros are split on whether it’s good business practice or not.
Should You Trade Chamber Membership for Something Else?
Bartering is a nice idea in a world where money doesn’t keep the lights on but what can it mean for the chamber? Here’s what a few pros had to say. (I’m not using any of their names but if you’re really curious who said what you can always visit the discussion on Facebook.)
Here’s some advice from chambers that support bartering:
“I swap a membership to our local newspapers for ads. I am also fixing to swap out a membership to a local florist for ribbons.”
“I swap a membership to two of our local semi-pro sports teams for tickets to their games.”
Only When It Pays To
Some chambers would do it on occasion but only when it is more beneficial for the chamber:
“The closest I got this year was a venue charging us the same amount as a membership for us to hold our gala there. We got a $1500 space for $350 and they paid us the $350 for their membership.”
” I would only do this if what you need is more than your budget. Example: a membership to a heating/air company for repairs that are costly.”
“No trade for memberships, but I do sometimes trade for event sponsorships. A lot of media like to do this, particularly radio. I will trade them an event sponsor for publicity of that event. But I try to make sure I am not giving them too much that is going to cost me, like a full table with 8 meals. I give them top billing on printed materials, a couple of event tickets, mentions at all event announcements, etc.”
Some chambers are firm about their stance that trading membership for services is a one-way ticket to not being able to pay bills:
“The only time I have done this, it didn’t work out well for the Chamber. I will not put the organization in that position again.”
“In my 24 years in Chamber work I have never done a trade/in-kind membership. I will trade on anything else, but not membership. I feel it’s a slippery slope.”
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