There’s a lot--a lot--to learn when your chapter elects you as the new sorority treasurer. There are all the regulations and guidelines to read through and understand, and let us tell you, it can be quite dense. It has to be. We’re talking about your sorority’s treasury here, and how it’s budgeted can make or break you and your sisters.
Going it alone is not recommended, and may lead to disaster.
You’ve all heard that cliché, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”
In this case, we feel that those who do know their chapter’s budgetary history are able to repeat past successes.
Consider the possibility that, as an incoming sorority treasurer, you aren’t running a marathon, by yourself for tens of miles in the sweltering heat. Instead, you’re running a relay race. The buck doesn’t begin and end with you. You’ve got help. The sister who served as treasurer before you passes you the baton. When you finish your term, you pass the baton and everything you’ve learned about being a successful treasurer to the incoming sister. Thus, OmegaFi would like to limber up and get ready to talk about What a Sorority Treasurer Can Learn from Her Predecessor.
What Can Go Right
If you are able to go over past semesters’ budgets with the outgoing sorority treasurer, this can be a huge boon to how successful you are in budgeting for your chapter’s future. Managing finances is a whole lot easier with sorority financial software such as OmegaFi’s Vault. Financial budgeting software can give you linear, long-term financial reporting and data on your chapter’s finances that facilitates tracking and analyzing trends from semester to semester. Access to financial experts can help train you in using the software, and you and your predecessor can focus on the details of budgeting she learned with their help.
Another thing you’ll want to talk about with your experienced predecessor is what kinds of things you should prepare for right out of the gate. What paperwork is involved in getting the chapter and all sisters new and old set to go financially? What are aspects of being a new treasurer that are easy to forget or overlook? What techniques have been used in the past in collecting dues, setting up payment plans and convincing sisters to move into the house? Who needs to sign what, and when? Who do I need to contact about what, and when? Is all this information centralized somewhere? Has the previous treasurer kept notes, and can you have access to them? Can you shadow her for a few weeks to get the hang of things? It may help to compile a list of questions after reading your chapter guidelines on the duties of the treasurer, so neither of you is wasting her time going over information you could have figured out yourself.
No one’s saying you have to be an ace at this on day one. Honestly, most new sorority treasurers probably aren’t. But the good ones turn to their sisters for advice when needed.
What Can Go Wrong
A lot, it turns out, can go wrong as a sorority treasurer. Going over budget and having to cut things at the end of the semester will cause your sisters to lose trust in your ability to manage the membership dues they’ve invested. They’re paying for the sorority experience (and so are you). Having to face these difficult decisions of what to take away can lead to huge headaches and resentments. Not leaving room for either a surplus or savings can sometimes lead to ending the semester with a deficit.
Luckily (for you), the treasurer who came before you has almost certainly faced some unforeseen challenges in addition to successes. Without being rude, ask if she doesn’t mind sharing what went wrong and why. In some instances she might not know, but often with hindsight she can explain certain missteps along the way. If she can fill you in on where ignorance led her astray, you can avoid the same pitfalls during your term as sorority treasurer.
You’ll want specifics, if possible. Were there specific areas of the budget that were the most problematic, or subject to miscalculation (as opposed to the items that were mostly constant each semester)? By how much? Is this a trend from past semesters? Were certain purchases or business relationships toxic to the chapter’s finances? Were other chapter officers asking for too much? Too little? Was the house gaining or losing residents, or has it stayed about the same? How’s membership growth overall? If it’s declining, why?
Another cliché: “The devil’s in the details.”
We would argue that the details are the sorority treasurer’s salvation.
There are of course some things that can’t be taught, that you’ll learn on your own, even in a relay race. These are the intangibles that will show through in your character as you face new adversities, challenges and setbacks. They’ll be the factors that decide if you’ll bounce back from failure or, instead of crunching the numbers, become crunched yourself.
What are these so-called intangibles?
Thankfully, they’re often the qualities and moral truths you’ve been learning the whole time you’ve been a sorority sister. Living up to the values and honor of your letters can go a long way, as it turns out, and the treasurer is no exception. What does that mean? It means showing respect when respect is due to all your sisters. It means being clear and straightforward and direct, showing sisterly love and understanding when you can and upholding your chapter to the letter of the law when necessary. Above all else it means what it’s always meant. You represent your chapter every time you put on your letters and step into the world, and the way you carry yourself as a sister is how you should approach being a sorority treasurer: with grace, with humility and with the determination to never give up until you reach the finish line.
If you were to pass on one thing to the next treasurer of your sorority chapter, what would it be? Let the next generation of treasurers know in the comments below!