Chamber rethinks fundraising strategy

coldcallsYour business contacts and vendors will no longer be shilling on behalf of the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce.

In light of tighter budgets, the group said it expects that companies want their employees working on company projects and not spending time working the phones for the chamber.

The GRCC decided last week to reign in its Total Resource Campaign, which encourages volunteers at member companies to sell memberships and event sponsorships. Instead of having the volunteers make calls and chase incentives such as cash and vacations, the chamber will be raising funds in-house.

“We’ve had nine years of our current model. It was all volunteer-driven, and it’s been a success,” said Lori Amirshahi, director of marketing at the chamber. Last year the chamber raised slightly more than its $2 million goal.

“At this point, living in different world, we needed to … think differently about how [to] work differently. Part of that [is] recognizing and being sensitive to the fact [that] members are struggling with own businesses right now,” Amirshahi said.

She added that the chamber wants to have a more direct link to volunteers in community.

The change likely means the chamber will have to run on a tighter budget. Several of the major benefactors are in dire straights, including LandAmerica, the Richmond-based title insurance company which filed for bankruptcy protection in November. Ted Chandler, LandAmerica’s chief executive, was chairman of the Total Resource Campaign.

The chamber has laid off four workers in December.

Several sources who asked that their company names not be used said the Total Resource Campaign was sometimes irritating but that it was effective at raising money.

Aaron Kremer is the BizSense editor. Please send story ideas to [email protected]

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