This article was originally published in the Spring 2021 edition of ACCE’s Chamber Executive Magazine.

In our last Chamber Executive article, POWER 10 CEO Sean Mikula offered that the constituency chambers serve does not care too much whether the chamber CEO and staff are “busy” – what they care about is whether the chamber has “moved the ball” and whether the chamber and community are “winning” in regard to important / “big block” community challenges and opportunities.

The question remains – how does a busy (!) chamber executive decide which are the most important challenges and opportunities, and on which to focus? One good answer: DATA.

We propose three key steps to use data to set and deliver on a community-facing agenda, AND ensure your constituency sees your value and is motivated to invest you:

  1. Use federal and other data resources to illuminate key community challenges and opportunities

Ask and answer questions that will enable situational awareness regarding the economic health of your community, like:

  • Are we attracting talent? What type of talent are we attracting? Do we have a relatively young workforce? (Net migration, in-migrant profiles, and resident age distribution)
  • Are our residents finding jobs in our community or elsewhere? (Unemployment data and inflow / outflow data from Census OnTheMap)
  • Is our economy growing? Has our economy benefited families? Are the benefits of our economic growth spread widely? (Employment growth, median household income and home values, poverty rate)
  1. Develop programmatic response / strategy

After identifying the community’s economic strengths and weaknesses, the chamber can develop a tailored programmatic response. For example, one of our suburban capital campaign clients accessed relevant data and learned that a surprisingly large portion of residents left the community every day for work, which meant long commutes for the workers and lost revenue for the community (daily spending, associated sales taxes, etc.).  The natural conclusion would be that jobs weren’t available in the community for these commuting workers, but the reality was that a wide variety of jobs were, in fact, open / available in the community and local employers complained they could not find the talent they needed.

Our client’s programmatic response involved a multi-pronged strategy including, for example, a marketing campaign with billboards conveying to resident commuters that they “could be home by now” (if they worked at a local business), and a portal / job board connecting residents with employers in the community.

  1. Implement, track progress and communicate outcomes

After developing, funding (via a capital campaign or other method), and implementing a strategy, access relevant data to track your progress – and regularly communicate your activity and outcomes to stakeholders. For example, say your initiative has a talent attraction component and you specifically want to attract biotech workers.  You might target your marketing efforts toward City X where many of those workers reside. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, you could track migration from City X to your community over a period of years and compare the inflow pre-marketing to the inflow after your efforts have had time to work. More broadly, you can also track whether you have attracted more potential workers to your community (net migration data), the type of talent you have attracted (migration by educational attainment), the age of your new talent (median age by migrant status), etc.

In our experience – this approach of using data to identify your community’s challenges, develop tailored solutions, and track their effectiveness – is a sure winner with prospective investors. They WILL invest more; and the increased funding will enable you to build your staff and other capacity to use data – all in a virtuous cycle.  In short, when it comes to fundraising, data is yeast: DATA MAKES THE DOUGH RISE!


By Amity Farrar, Executive Vice President

POWER 10 Capital Campaigns

Amity Farrar POWER 10 Captial Campaigns