Fraternity dues. They’re the pits. Am I right?
Unfortunately, however much fraternity dues are a pain to deal with for a chapter and its treasurer, they are a fact of life. You know this. We know this. The brothers who for some reason aren’t paying their membership dues know this.
Dues aren’t such a drag because some brothers can’t afford to pay them. While this may be true in some cases, these are times when, for instance, a scholarship may come in handy for a brother with exceptional academics. Or else you might consider personalized payment plans, or other ways a brother can work off his debt to his chapter. In cases of extreme hardship, inactive status is always an option. But these aren’t the norm. The real reason fraternity dues stink is because with some brothers it’s clear that, while they can pay, they aren’t doing so.
Fortunately, most brothers can be poked, prodded or coerced into paying their dues. We’ve talked about fraternity dues before. In fact, we talk about fraternity dues collections and fraternity dues incentives often. As the chief financial officer in charge of setting and managing a chapter budget, the fraternity treasurer bears the burden of collecting dues in as timely and efficient a manner as possible. The whole “I forgot my wallet” excuse is annoying, but a good treasurer will see through it and be able to collect the dues in the end.
However, what about the nuts that are so tough to crack that even a nutcracker (as your brothers fondly refer to you at times) won’t work? These are the brothers who have an excuse every week, sweet-talk their way into payment plans and extensions on deadlines and still don’t pay what they’re supposed to. These are the guys who laugh at your early-payment discount and couldn’t be bothered to work off his debt to the chapter, even as these tasks are spoon fed to them.
This brother is the chronic excuse maker, the brother with all the answers--answers to questions you didn’t ask, leaving your chapter in the hole. We here at OmegaFi sympathize, and we want to help. So let’s talk Incentives to Make Chronic Excuse Makers Pay Their Fraternity Dues.
Remember the Death Star? Incentivize Fraternity Dues like You Have a Death Star.
“Fear will keep the locals in line,” Grand Moff Tarkin once said while commanding the Death Star in Star Wars.
Of course, as a fraternity treasurer you don’t really have a planet-destroying weapon of galactic proportions, and even if you did, someone would probably try to use a Jedi mind trick to talk you out of “embracing the Dark Side” of your treasurer’s duties.
The point is that, while the common, everyday brother can be won over by some decent incentives alone--a discount for early payment, or a good parking spot, or something along those lines--the brothers who are hell-bent on not paying are the ones who require a level of disciplinary rigor that would make Darth Vader blush.
We’re not suggesting you simply send every late payment to collections and kick out every brother who offers up some lame excuse. You’d be out of brothers pretty quickly, and you have to make sure the punishment fits the crime. But when you offer incentives to chronic excuse makers, you have to balance the incentives with consistent enforcement of penalties such as loss of chapter privileges and being excluded from events. And, yes--on occasion, you’ll have to send a brother to collections or show them the door.
Remember, the rules are already in place. The reason the rules often fail is because they’re haphazardly applied. Being clear and consistent about fraternity membership dues is the key.
But Also, Be a Fraternity Dues Rebel
The Rebels were the good guys in Star Wars, remember? Good. Just want to make sure we’re on the same page with this painfully extended metaphor here.
Anyway, here’s the deal: You can’t simply be the bad guy. For one, being an inflexible jerk isn’t going to get you your dues any more than being a pushover will. Just keep in mind that the point we’re really going for this whole time is balance.
The thing about fraternity dues incentives is that most of them are stale and old, and these brothers who don’t want to pay dues have seen them all before. They’re still not paying. Why? Because we offer the wrong incentives the wrong brothers. Why would Billy, who eats out every night, care about a seat at the head of the table? First dibs on some free music festival tickets for Kyle, who is one of that weird breed of people who don’t really listen to music? Don’t make Billy and Kyle laugh, especially at the chapter’s expense.
What you need is fresh and human ideas. Rebel against the norms of boring, structured dues incentives. You might consider how you’d personalize incentives to the penny pinchers to really home in on what your brothers care about.
Maybe one brother has been talking to you all year long about how nice your room is in the chapter house, and how he would really love to have a window overlooking the breathtaking sunrise every morning. (This brother is a bit of a hopeless romantic, maybe not your typical brother. Just stick with us here.) Maybe you don’t care so much about the sun. You’re more of a night owl, anyway. Tell him, sure, you can have the room next semester if you pay your dues early. In full, Kyle! What about a brother who’s an academic whiz, but has seen a chapter scholarship pass him by semester after semester? If he’s brought it up before with a grumble in his voice, target him with the scholarship next semester if he doesn’t pay late this semester.
The idea is to know what works, what the chapter can afford, and who needs the most attention with incentives vs. penalties.
Teach Brothers about the Fraternity Dues Collection Process
Like Obi Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker . . . okay, we’ll stop. Promise.
Look, we’re just saying that if the budgeting process is transparent, and you show brothers exactly where their dues are going, how the budget is affected by late payments and so on, getting them actually involved in the financial reality of running a fraternity chapter, you might get them to understand why it’s so important they pay on time. This certainly isn’t a panacea for late fraternity dues, but it will help brothers feel more connected to where their money is going on a day-to-day basis.
Push brothers to become officers or participate in the finance committee, so they can understand why it’s a good thing when the dues come rolling in, and frustrating to their projects when they fall short.
You can also help make your fraternity’s financial management transparent with the use of financial software such as OmegaFi’s Vault, which helps keep the budget functioning and accessible, and makes the online payment process easy for brothers and their parents.
Whatever you do, remember that collecting fraternity dues is a balancing act between being a rebel and an emperor who rules the galaxy with an iron fist. Basically, just go collect those dues and then watch Star Wars to celebrate.
When brothers simply refuse to pay, what incentives work best for you? Let us know in the comments below!