This year’s Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives’ (ACCE) Annual Conference was, quite possibly, the best ACCE conference we’ve ever attended! From line dancing at the Wild Horse Saloon (what a hoot!) to ACCE President Mick Fleming’s moving goodbye toast, it was definitely an experience to remember. Best of all was enjoying the amazing educational and networking opportunities with our clients, friends, and colleagues.
One of the sessions we particularly enjoyed was Transformational Capital Campaigns, which took place Tuesday morning. Susan Davenport, CEO of the Gainesville Area (FL) Chamber of Commerce and a former client, moderated this session. The common theme we heard throughout the session from all of the panelists was that hiring outside counsel to help with your capital campaign was a worthwhile investment. They all stressed that it was important for a chamber to do their due diligence and interview multiple firms before deciding on who to work with, but they noted that hiring a professional was critical to success considering what a large and public endeavor a capital campaign is. Most interesting to us was an observation made by Cheryl Millsaps, Vice President, Finance and Accounting of the Chattanooga Area (TN) Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Millsaps shared that her chamber has used three different fundraising firms (including Convergent) over their last four capital campaigns, each firm raised the amount they said they would, and the chamber was happy with the services of each. Why did they change firms so often? Due to staff and board changes throughout the years, different firms were a better fit for them as an organization at different times. Her observations definitely reinforce the importance of interviewing multiple firms before making your final hiring decision!
As members of ACCE’s Capital Campaign Council, we were also excited to briefly join the Economic Development Division meeting to say hello to the committee members. While there, we answered a few of their questions about the campaign process, shared a bit about Convergent, and provided them with copies of our recent paper, “Chambers, Economic Development, & Capital Campaigns… Oh, My!” We truly appreciated the warm welcome we received and look forward to continuing to work with division members throughout the rest of the year.
Last but not least, we must say thank you and goodbye to ACCE’s long-time president and CEO, Mick Fleming. After 16 years of service to the chamber community, Mick is retiring on September 5th. It was heartwarming to see the outpouring of affection and support the entire ACCE community showed in saying goodbye to their fearless leader and in welcoming the next President and CEO, Sheree Anne Kelly.
Mick, as we already shared in the “Yearbook” that was circulating at the conference, it’s been a pleasure to get to know you and work with you over the last several years. Your dedication to the chamber industry and ACCE has been inspiring. We hope to have the chance to work with you again in the future!