Well, it’s a little more complicated than that, but essentially the answer is that you can definitely send a brother to collections for not paying fraternity dues. There are even some agencies that have specialized experience in collecting for Greek organizations.
That said, this is what we would call the “nuclear option” for dues collection strategies. For one, collection agencies usually take a sizable percentage of the debt owed to your organization, so you’d only recoup on average somewhere around 60 percent of what you’re owed, give or take. Secondly, the brother in question’s credit would be negatively affected, and the process is very damaging to the relationship between a brother and his chapter. Now, if this is that one brother who just refuses to pay, and you don’t have a problem with possibly losing him from the organization (or if it’s a graduated brother who’s vanished from the house without so much as a penny of dues paid), you may have to do this. It may even end up in claims court, which is a very involved process for a group of students trying to focus on school as well as chapter activities and goals.
But really, you should be doing everything in your power to keep dues collection in the inner circle of the chapter and not have to complicate the process with outside parties. So, if you’re asking, Can You Send a Brother to Collections for Not Paying Dues? OmegaFi is here to let you know you can--but you should try to avoid it. Here are some more pertinent questions you might ask before it comes to this.
Have You Recruited Quality Brothers?
It’s a pretty tough question to answer honestly. Even the knuckleheads in your chapter are guys you’ve bonded with and care about like family. And to be fair, you can’t really predict which brothers might end up coming on tough times and not able to pay their dues from semester to semester. But it’s important to take a good, hard look at who’s in your ranks. If you’ve got a bunch of hangers-on, brothers who never intended to pay dues but want to get the benefit of all the socials, formals, flag football matches, and the prestige of wearing the letters, that would not be a quality brother. Is Frank a good guy? Sure. He’d come through for you in a clutch. But is he trustworthy when it comes to being in a fraternity? Well, maybe not. Not everyone is cut out for brotherhood. Frank seems to always owe a lot of people money, and he’s not paying up. Maybe the best solution is to steer clear of this kind of brother in the future. After all, it’s not like you’re forbidden to be friends even if Frank’s not wearing your organization’s letters. You want brothers who are not only good friends, but who are really in this for the betterment of the organization. This approach to recruitment may help minimize any situations that might lead to calling up that collections agency and feeling like Brutus murdering Caesar (you know, like in that Shakespeare play you were supposed to read for English class).
Have You Asked for Help?
The number one thing you can do to ensure you haven’t made a misstep in keeping brothers informed of their debts is to leave a paper trail, but doing so on your own can be very time consuming with the potential for human error. After all, you’re only one man, and you just pulled several all-nighters studying for finals. Having to essentially serve as the chapter’s unofficial accountant and loan shark as well as treasurer may be too much to handle at once, leading to a mistake. However, if you use a service such as OmegaFi’s Vault, a lot of that pressure is taken off of you. Billing statements are sent to brothers, accounts are managed, and life is good. This kind of help can be a life-saver when it comes to streamlining dues collection. What about asking previous treasurers for help, or just other brothers in general who may have a knack with numbers (or methods of persuasion)? What’s worked in the past for getting this particular group of brothers to pay up? Listen, take notes, and get that cash with confidence. If nothing else, OmegaFi is happy to help you collect dues from your non-paying brothers with some encouraging words of advice.
Is There No Other Way?
Unfortunately, sometimes the answer is, No. There is no other way. The collections process seems to be out of your hands. You’ve tried everything, short of coming at these guys like a bookie with a baseball bat. But of course this isn’t a mobster movie, and you haven’t been to the gym in months, so that approach probably won’t go well for either of you. Just saying. However, make sure every other avenue is totally exhausted. Have you tried payment plans or volunteer opportunities? Have you excluded non-paying brothers from events like spring formal and Greek Week? Is it feasible to put a brother who’s fallen into financial hardship on temporary inactive status? Have you tried giving these brothers a back rub and a shave? Okay, certainly we don’t want you wasting your time trying to beg or exchange favors for dues--it’s unlikely this approach will work, anyway, and it lowers the standard of both you and the chapter.
The bottom line is this: If nothing else works, yes, contact a collections agency. You may feel like the scum of the earth after the deed is done. However, at the end of the day, the brother in question agreed to pay to be a part of your chapter. He didn’t have to join if he felt he wouldn’t be able to afford membership, and it’s unfair to the other brothers when debt is perpetually allowed to go unpaid.
Have you had any experiences with the dues payment process that might keep brothers out of collections? Do you have any advice for chapters who might be facing this tough choice? Feel free to let us know in the comments below.