Miami chamber expects to surpass goal in membership drive
By Samantha Joseph
The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce expects to surpass its $700,000 goal in revenues from a membership drive.
The chamber launched Challenge 2004, a membership drive to generate revenue and gain recruit, in February. Early this month, with about three weeks left in the drive, the chamber said it had raised $693,401 despite what chairman Peter Roulhac described as "one of the toughest months possible for membership."
With annual membership fees ranging from $450 to $50,000 based on company size and annual revenues, the chamber expects to meet its goal. Membership fees account for nearly 90% of the chamber's operating revenue.
"We will be slightly ahead of the $700,000 mark," said Ricardo Lujan, chairman of the effort.
BankUnited FSB generated $108,735 to become the highest producer in the campaign. Union Planters Bank of Florida was second with $49,800.
The drive has added close to 300 members and 134 trustees, Mr. Lujan said. Each trustee contributes $2,950 to $50,000 annually.
"Membership is our lifeblood," Mr. Lujan said. "If we don't increase our number of members, we lose touch with the needs of the current business community."
Challenge 2004 came as the chamber faces several trials. After about two decades of steady leadership, the group has changed presidents twice in six months. Isilio Arriaga left the post in March, and by May, the chamber had named former DirecTV and AT&T executive George Foyo as his replacement.
Revisions to the chamber's charter and bylaws could dramatically slash its administration. Proposals would reduce the executive committee from 55 people to 11 and shrink the board of governors from 140 to 100.
The change in leadership and the uncertainty surrounding them did not help the membership drive. A falloff in consumer confidence that led to cautious spending by local businesses also proved challenging, Mr. Lujan said.
Making the chamber less reliant on membership revenue is a top priority, Mr. Roulhac said.
One suggestion could see the chamber create a program in which it would help members generate business by offering their services within the chamber and pay a percentage of revenue to the chamber. Mr. Lujan said the arrangement would allow smaller companies access to services and business that would otherwise be out of reach.
Mr. Roulhac said, "It's a win-win proposition."