Every chapter has problems collecting members’ dues. Period. Even those chapters with a collection rate above 90% have those few specific members who never seem to pay on time, and who have to be hounded night and day. Because most chapters rely exclusively on dues for just about everything, increasing your collection rate should be a top priority on your list of things to do. Although we can’t promise you’ll never have problems collecting dues again, our following six suggestions can, over time, help make your members accountable and sufficiently increase your collection rate.
1. Require new members to pay their fees up front
It is important for new members to understand the financial obligation that is required of them in order to be a member of the fraternity or sorority. Holding tight deadlines and enforcing consequences for late payments or lack of payments can lead to more accountable members (as both new members and active members). There are many ways to go about doing this: for some chapters this means making all payments in order to be initiated, while for others it means not allowing delinquent new members to participate in chapter and social events. Although the course of action may be up to you, check with your nationals to make sure there are not already rules and consequences in place.
2. Take immediate action with delinquent members
The worst thing a chapter can do is allow delinquent members to participate in chapter and extracurricular events. If someone hasn’t paid their dues or is late on their payment plan you cannot allow them to attend the mixer on Friday night. By enforcing consequences and taking away the “fun” of being in a fraternity or sorority, you’ll show members what their dues pay for and remind them of the importance of their financial responsibility.
Because enforcing these types or restrictions is hard for one person to do (usually the treasurer), be sure to enlist the help of your executive members as well. Having multiple members tell a brother or sister that they can’t attend the mixer is more effective than one. Additionally, some chapters find that announcing delinquent members at meeting and reminding the chapter that these members can’t attend upcoming events make it easier to turn delinquent members away from events (and get them to pay their dues).
Finally, remind your executive members (or whoever is enforcing the rules), that everyone must be treated the same. “Special cases”, aka looking the other way for your best friend, doesn’t benefit the chapter in anyway. Rather, letting one person off the hook leads to loop holes, extra stress for executive members, and fighting amongst the chapter. Only in extreme cases, such as family hardship or personal issues, should exceptions be made. If you’re not sure how to determine what qualifies as an “extreme case”, or if you don’t trust another member’s judgment, speak with your chapter adviser or nationals.
3. Educate your chapter about policies and procedures
In addition to your executive members knowing your chapter’s financial policies and procedures, its important that your fraternity or sorority members know them as well (after all, they have to abide by these policies as well). If you hold a special meeting to talk about chapter finances, make sure to provide the policies to your members in print (or online), and be available afterward for specific questions and one-on-one conversations.
4. Keep member rosters up-to-date
How can you make sure that all your members have paid if your roster is out of date? Doing this simple bit of house cleaning can make your life a whole lot easier. We recommend keeping rosters up-to-date by using an online spreadsheet software like Google Docs or a roster tool for Greek organizations such asChapterBoard. Although paper lists are great, online tools tend to be more efficient and are easier to transition when new executive members are elected.
5. Make paying easy and let members know what they owe
Its simple. If a member has to write a paper check, remember the address to mail it to, buy a stamp, and take it the post office, they are less likely to pay. In that same respect, members won’t pay a bill if they don’t know they owe money. Although many of us assume that our fraternity brothers and sorority sisters are responsible and, well, smart, making things easier for your members can drastically increase your collection rate.
There are an emerging number of options when it comes to paying dues online. However, be careful as many of these companies can charge an arm and a leg… and then some. One online collection company we like is ChapterBoard. ChapterBoard has the lowest fees of all the major online collection companies, and they only charge for what they collect (whereas other companies charge a fixed fee for all dues, even money not collected online). Additionally, ChapterBoard provides fraternities and sororities with robust budgeting tools that can track income, record expenses, and plan future budgets.
Email Notices & Paper Invoices
Sending email notices or paper invoices to members not only makes them accountable for their dues, it also reminds them of what they owe. Additionally, remember to save copies of your emails and invoices as it’ll provide a record of your communication efforts (in case the member tries to dispute). Finally, emails and invoices are easier and more reliable then calling every delinquent member. While your members might like the personal touch of an angry “pay your dues now” voicemail, emails and invoices are easier for executive members to facilitate (and less emotional).
6. Financial Transparency
Let’s be honest: most members who don’t pay their dues aren’t doing it because they hate the chapter or because they want to make your life hell. Rather, members simply forget to pay and probably don’t realize how their action (or inaction) affect the chapter). If you want your members to be more accountable, you need to make sure they know how they affect the chapter. Tell your members exactly where their money goes, and explain how delinquent payments affect what the chapter can and can’t do. If you continue to have delinquents, remind the chapter at every chapter meeting how much money is owed, and what that money is supposed to be spent on. When members understands where their money goes, it reinforces the importance of every member’s contribution to the chapter and makes every member responsible to each other.
This post was generously provided by ChapterBoard.