A Chamber of Commerce Corporate Diplomat Volunteer Program is a “Win-Win”

by Dona Bonnett

What is a Corporate Diplomat Program?

A Corporate Diplomat Program is an organized volunteer program that extends the arms of the Chamber.

With a limited paid staff, a local Chamber can achieve much more by implementing and utilizing a Corporate Diplomat Program wisely.

It’s not “all about the Chamber” and it’s not “all about its’ volunteers”, but it is a wonderful partnership that can benefit both parties.

There are many different directions that a Chamber needs to go. Most Chambers do not have the funds available to hire adequate staff to handle the many jobs and tasks that need to be performed in order to grow and expand.

Many times a Chamber may only have one or two employees and there is no way that they can fulfill all of the obligations and maximize their potential without a functioning volunteer program.

The sky is the limit and you are only limited by your imagination to what your Chamber can accomplish with an awesome Corporate Diplomat Volunteer Program.

Here are some ideas:

• All aspects of your Chamber’s Program of Work
• Administrative
• Marketing
• Public Relations
• Membership
• Tourism/Festivals
• Special Events
• Managing the Corporate Diplomat Volunteer Program
• Chamber Resource Sponsorships & Campaigns
• Community Affairs
• Legislative
• Retail Development
• Small Business Development
• Industrial Development
• Workforce Development

So what’s in it for your volunteers? Most people who would volunteer would expect something in return. You may have a few people who just like to volunteer and feel a sense of self-worth by having a purpose and carry out that purpose as a Corporate Diplomat.

In this economy, most businesses are very “strapped” for time and money and they do not have adequate staff to allow someone in their company to spend time “on the clock” volunteering at their local Chamber without a good payoff in return.

What can the Chamber consciously do for them in return for their volunteer work without paying them with money?

There must be something tangible that the Chamber can offer a volunteer and that volunteer should never be taken for granted.

Typically, a business professional will volunteer for various jobs or assignments in return for the opportunity to increase their business exposure.

Here are some ideas in how Chamber volunteers could be repaid by:

• Increased ability/exposure to build relationships with Chamber Staff
• Increased ability/exposure to build relationships with other business professionals
• Chamber promoting those companies to other Chamber members
• Chamber promoting those companies & their products to other area businesses
• Chamber making introductions to people of influence that could help those businesses
• Chamber introduce, connect and promote those businesses to consumers
• More visual business exposure (volunteer would be seen more as a Chamber liaison)
• Award recognition (i.e. awards – Ambassador of the Year, Ambassador of the Quarter)
• Public recognition on a regular basis at Chamber events (i.e. monthly luncheons, business after hours, annual meetings)
• Written recognition (i.e. e-blasts, newsletters, annual booklet, maps, etc.)
Volunteers become Corporate Diplomat prospects. Corporate Diplomats become prospects for future board positions. This process can become a perpetual volunteer screening and recruiting process to insure that you have qualified and active volunteers to carry out the work and grow/expand the Chamber’s vision/reach.

What does the Chamber sell? The Chamber of Commerce sells 5 items:

• The Chamber (an attractive Chamber Membership product – what do you do for them?)
• Chamber Ambassadorship (create & expand your program)
• Chamber Sponsorships (increase revenues through sponsorships & sponsorship campaigns)
• Chamber Members to Other Chamber Members, Businesses & Consumers
• The Chamber Sells the City and Community (Live, Work, Play)

It takes time and effort to develop a good volunteer program, but it is well worth it. By recruiting volunteers, developing a good Corporate Diplomat Volunteer Program with a great rewards system for a “win-win” and training your volunteers adequately, a local Chamber can be the key to the economic and social well being of any town or city.

Dona Bonnett is a business and marketing coach and consultant specializing in business start-ups and companies that would like to grow. For more information, please visit her website at www.adrBusinessMarketingStrategies.com or dona@adrBusinessMarketingStrategies.com.