Strategic financial management is essential to the health and success of any fraternity. And whether you’re a new treasurer in your chapter or a seasoned alumnus, you know that a huge part of fraternity financial management involves managing membership dues.
Membership dues are what a fraternity brother pays to participate in their fraternity as a member. Dues contribute to a chapter’s budget and help chapters accomplish goals associated with fundraising, alumni outreach, social activities, recruitment, and more.
In short, dues make your chapter’s world go ‘round, which is why it’s so important to manage them effectively. But managing dues is easier said than done, and can sometimes be difficult if, for example, a fraternity brother is delinquent on his dues.
So, how can you set up an effective membership dues management system within your fraternity chapter? In this quick guide, we’ll give you four easy steps to doing so:
- Emphasize the importance of dues to prospective members.
- Provide thorough financial management training to your chapter’s treasurer.
- Post regular reminders and clear deadlines.
- Provide easy-to-use online payment tools.
In addition to putting these tips into practice, equipping your chapter with the right fraternity management tools can also give you a leg up in the process of managing dues. In particular, financial management software can help you stay on top of the process so that your team is always making smart decisions regarding the money flowing in and out of your chapter.
1. Emphasize the importance of dues to prospective members.
Effective dues management starts, believe it or not, during the fraternity recruitment process. According to OmegaFi’s guide to fraternity and sorority recruitment, during Rush Week, you should make it a goal to help prospective members understand what it means to be part of your chapter — and that includes paying dues.
By setting financial expectations early, you can help prospective members quickly learn if fraternity life is right for them. After all, being part of a fraternity is expensive, and not every person is in a position to pay regular dues on top of other college life expenses (not to mention startup costs for new members like initiation fees, educational materials, new members pins, badges, etc.).
By being transparent about the financial responsibilities new members will have, you can make it clear that dues are to be paid in full and on time. Also, let your prospective or new members know what consequences they’ll face if they fail to do so.
While you can emphasize the importance of dues early on in conversations with prospective members, it may also help to write out your financial requirements on your college’s website or to hold a meeting or FAQ during rush week to specifically outline the costs associated with being a lettered member of your chapter.
2. Provide thorough financial management training to your chapter’s treasurer.
Though your chapter president and local advisors will certainly be involved in dues management, the bulk of this responsibility will fall to your chapter’s treasurer. But most fraternity brothers — even the brothers who are eager to serve as treasurer — will need a little training upfront to be as effective as possible in the treasurer role.
Here are three ways to effectively onboard them into the role:
- Illustrate how dues and your chapter’s larger goals are interconnected. The story of your fraternity as a philanthropic organization is likely tied to members’ (and alumni’s) generosity. As you introduce your fraternity brother to his new duties as treasurer, make it clear that dues are what makes all of your operations possible, which is why it’s so important to diligently manage them.
- Provide your new treasurer with the right tools for the job. It’s certainly possible for your treasurer to keep track of who has and who hasn’t paid their dues using only a pen and paper. But it’s not the easiest way to get the job done. Instead, consider investing in fraternity financial management software. The best platforms won’t just help your treasurer take care of dues, either — they also offer easy-to-use tools for bank transaction management, compiling financial statements, and more.
- Connect your new treasurer with a previous treasurer or advisor who can mentor them in the role. Even the most talented fraternity treasurer can run into roadblocks and sticky situations that are difficult to navigate. Connect your new treasurer with someone who has a little more experience — such as a previous treasurer or advisor. They should be able to answer questions and help your treasurer grow their confidence in their responsibilities. Not only will this be helpful for your treasurer, but another pair of eyes can also ensure better accuracy and transparency with all of your chapter’s finances!
Similar to the basics of nonprofit budgeting, mastering all of the moving parts of your chapter’s finances won’t be the easiest task for an incoming treasurer. But with thorough training, a dedicated mentor, and the right tools, you’ll be able to set both your treasurer and the rest of your members up for success when it comes to dues payments.
3. Post regular reminders and clear deadlines.
On top of providing clear dues expectations up front and thoroughly training your chapter’s treasurer on the importance of dues, you should also provide regular reminders and set clear deadlines for dues. These will give members a chance to plan ahead and avoid any penalties they might incur for being delinquent on their dues.
Here are a few ways to do this as effectively as possible:
- Send out deadlines and reminders with fraternity communication software. Instead of running around your chapter house trying to track down individual members who still need to pay their dues, use fraternity communication software to send messages en masse to chapter members, reminding them of the dues payment schedule. The best platforms will also allow you to integrate with your billing solution to review members’ outstanding charges and empower them to pay quickly and securely.
- Be clear about the consequences of missing dues payments. Whether in your chapter meetings, through an email newsletter, or on your fraternity’s website, be sure to communicate the consequences of missing a dues payment. If brothers will be uninvited to important networking events or asked to pay late fees, say so. Knowing the consequences upfront can motivate members to pay on time.
- Loop parents into the conversation as needed. Sometimes it’s most helpful to keep members’ parents in the loop concerning dues payments. Try adding reminders or a schedule of payment deadlines into your next parent newsletter. This is especially helpful for members who are still receiving financial help from their parents and need to manage their individual dues payments together.
Clear and consistent communication about the importance of dues and paying on time and in full can make all the difference in the health of your chapter’s budget and the opportunities you’re able to provide your members! Use these strategies to ensure that everyone is on the same page and committed to paying their dues.
4. Provide easy-to-use online payment tools.
It doesn’t matter if you provide constant reminders about payments or have the best treasurer in the world — if your fraternity’s payment tools are difficult to use or prone to breaking down, collecting dues will be extra complicated. This is why it’s important to invest in easy-to-use online payment tools that have the following features:
- Intuitive interface. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to pay for something and not knowing how to because the payment tool doesn’t offer an intuitive experience. Look for a tool that makes the dues payment process fast, easy, and understandable. The less frustrating your payment tool is, the easier it will be to get members consistently paying their dues.
- Security. Members will be reluctant to pay their dues if your payment tool doesn’t offer secure payment processing. Ensure that you’ve chosen a tool that offers payment card industry (PCI) compliance, which keeps credit card holders’ information safe. Your tool should also offer data encryption and anti-fraud tools and support.
- Recurring payment options. Some members of your chapter would no doubt love to take a “set it and forget it” approach to paying their dues. Look for a tool that allows members to opt into recurring payments, making it so they’ll never miss paying on time again!
Just like it’s easy to decide to go somewhere else for dinner when the cash register is acting up at your favorite fast food restaurant, it’s easy for members to neglect dues payments if the process is difficult or seems untrustworthy (even when it’s not!). By leveraging the right tools with top-notch payment processing, you can make the process of paying dues a simple part of fraternity life instead of a stressful one.
As OmegaFi’s fraternity management guide affirms, collecting membership dues is a critical aspect of managing your chapter’s operations. After all, each dues payment adds up to become the foundation of your chapter’s budget. Additionally, these payments empower your chapter to open doors for its members and make a difference by doing good in the community.
By using these four tips to improve how your manage fraternity membership dues, you’ll be well on your way to a stronger chapter that can offer a great experience for its members. Good luck!