We must begin with an important fact of life: sorority membership dues are not, nor will they ever be cheap.
Undergraduate sisters can count on this. It’s just one of those constants, as sure as the tuition bill comes each semester, as sure as the women’s soccer team will make another championship run with their star forward.
And honestly? That’s okay. We’d never knock any college woman for deciding not to rush a sorority, or for experiencing a bit of membership sticker shock. Still, it’s important to note that sorority chapters offer a unique experience that sisters pay for directly with dues.
In other words, you get out what you put in. A sorority chapter offers luxury, but we’re not just talking about glitz and glamour and diamond tiaras. The truest luxury of sorority life is the enriching experience of sisterhood, the lifelong bonds you form over these formative years.
There’s an old saying: If you’re rich in friends, you’re never poor. Sisters’ wealth will last the rest of their lives.
Yet, come rush week all those freshman women looking for bids have their choice of chapters on campus. You can’t expect them to choose yours without showing them exactly what you have to offer.
You have to provide a unique experience that embodies your sorority’s core values, but you also can’t be so lavish that chapter dues climb through the roof. If potential new members can get a quality sorority experience that’s also affordable, they will.
So how do you give the best sorority experience possible and not turn off potential new members with extortion-level costs?
Fear not. OmegaFi can help. Let’s talk about How to Keep Sorority Dues Competitive and Still Offer Luxury.
The Best Things in Life Are Free . . . ish
Okay, we get it. Not many things are actually free. Most things, in fact, are not.
This goes double for sorority budgeting. Still, there are plenty of ways for your treasurer to cut down on costs and still provide luxury.
When examining the affordability of each chapter function, consider what you want to be sisters’ core experience with the function. If there’s anything you can cut without diminishing that experience, cut it.
Let’s take spring formal for example. Sure, you could hire really expensive caterers and event staff. But couldn’t the social committee make the evening a little more affordable by putting some grunt work in and volunteering, rather than hiring a ton of people?
Isn’t that one fraternity brother always bragging about his DJ skills? Put him to the test.
Remind sisters that they simply have to volunteer for some events, while at others you’ll let them off the hook to enjoy themselves. Sure, managing ticket sales and making sure the sound system works aren’t exactly fun. But if sisters pitch in more for some functions and less for others, they can still get an overall great experience.
Also, consider how you choose a venue. Some offer more amenities than others. And, of course, they’re more expensive to book. But couldn’t you do a little research and provide those same amenities for lower cost? Find a venue with a big enough square footage, but hunt around for the extras yourself.
Congratulations. You just cut some unnecessary costs and made sorority dues a little more affordable. Most importantly, you didn’t skimp on the luxury of sisters’ actual experience. And you’ll be able to revisit those memories over and over--for free!
Don’t Cut Essentials Just to Lower Sorority Dues
Honestly, it’s not the best idea to constantly price match your membership dues and budget with other chapters. Unless these chapters go out of their way to announce those numbers, you’re probably making estimations based on hearsay. Plus there are many factors that contribute to the cost of dues, such as chapter size, and dues can fluctuate semester to semester.
You want to stay somewhat competitive with other chapters, but don’t let it disrupt your brand of sorority life. Talk directly with national advisors about your membership dues and check if they make sense with the organization’s bigger picture.
If you’re a small chapter, sisters may not need to pay too much comparatively, but sorority dues can often reach over $1,000 per student per semester.
If you’ve planned important chapter initiatives that are costly, yet the benefits to the chapter outweigh the cost of losing them, put your scissors away. Don’t cut. Leave them in.
Be confident that your chapter’s going in the right direction with your budget. Tell potential new members you’d love to have them, and there are payment options available, but at the end of the day dues are what they are.
That’s the cost of luxury. Take it or leave it.
Speaking of Payment Options for Sorority Dues . . .
Don’t try to “sell” membership in your chapter with payment options, even though you likely have these available.
If you push potential new members who are on the fence but really can’t afford sisterhood, you’re going to be in a world of hurt later when they can’t pay and you need to show them the door.
Trust us--writing off unpaid sorority dues is never a good time.
Payment plans sound enticing, but many chapters offer discount incentives for paying early. In other words, membership dues cost more when paid in installments.
Don’t pressure potential new members. They must ultimately make the decision themselves to rush your chapter or not, and find a way to cover the costs. If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen. If not, there are a hundred other PNMs who might turn out to be great new sisters.
Once a PNM seems committed and financially able to pay her dues, don’t hide the installment plan option or any potential chapter scholarships, especially if she asks about those things. It’s important every sorority woman knows her options, as long as she knows for sure that your chapter is right for her--dues and all.
How does your chapter balance sorority dues to stay competitive? How do you achieve the give and take of budgeting and dues? Let’s sum things up in the comments below.