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What's that Smell? When Your Fraternity Financial Management Stinks


Stinky fraternity management is kind of like Royce. You thought Royce’s gym bag stank that time he left it sitting in the common area for way too long. Although the bigger problem is that Royce is usually in the gym clothes that stink, so often that once or twice you’ve had to have a tactful, private chat about personal hygiene. Although it wasn’t really private since everyone in your chapter has a nose, as you tactfully told him, “Take a shower, dude. You smell.”

To which Royce replied, “You think I smell? Take a look in the mirror!”

You want to tell Royce that smell and sight are two different senses, but in a Royce own way, he’s right. It’s not you, personally, who stinks. In the body-odor department, Royce is still winning with a strong lead.

That rotten musk is your fraternity’s financial management. Much like when everyone in the house can smell a brother’s stench besides him, you may not realize you have a problem until it’s too late. That’s why it’s important to put your finances to the smell test early and often.

OmegaFi is here to help. So flare those nostrils, brothers, because it’s time to play What’s That Smell? When Your Fraternity Financial Management Stinks.

Don’t Just Febreze Your Putrid Financial Planning

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There’s a source to every smell. Usually something is rotting from the inside out, and in the case of fraternity financial management, it inevitably begins with the budget. A good fraternity treasurer keeps his air freshener handy all semester long to spruce up the chapter finances, but it’s always better to eliminate a nose-pincher at the source rather than simply mask a deeper issue.

Otherwise, the smell always comes back.

A fraternity treasurer, his financial committee and the entire chapter need to put their utmost effort into getting the budget as close to perfect as possible the first time. Although you always want to look at your chapter budget as a living thing, subject to changes and in need of constant management and adjustment, you can avoid major financial blunders by focusing on good budgeting practices.

One important budgeting tip is to include a margin of error in how you allot funds to each chapter activity and goal, rather than under-budgeting to save a buck here and there. The problem with penny pinching in the budgeting stage is that you’ll likely end up with a deficit as the semester wears on.  Budgeting for a surplus may not actually turn into one if your chapter faces unforeseen expenses during the semester, but it will give you a buffer zone to cover those expenses. And if you do end up with more than you expected, congratulations. Your chapter now has a savings.

When Managing Fraternity Finances, Be Transparent, Be Honest, Be Consistent

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Did we mention that you should be consistent? Yes, brothers, consistency is the name of the game when it comes to keeping your finances from turning foul.

There are a few steps you can take to keep your chapter budget running smoothly. One is dues collection. If you’ve ever been a fraternity treasurer, you know how hard it can be to get brothers to give their dues on time. It’s one of the topics we talk the most about, because it’s a big part of keeping your budget healthy. Transparency, honesty and consistency are the bedrock of dues collection. Make brothers aware of what they owe with periodic printed reminders of balances owed and budgetary announcements during chapter meetings.

All brothers should be given the same options for payment plans, late dues penalties and discounts for early payment, and they should be given an honest assessment of where they stand with the chapter financially.

The same ethos applies to managing your chapter budget in general. Grant brothers access to the budget, and provide updates of any changes that happen during the semester. If brothers have an active idea of what’s going on with the budget and where their money is going, it may give them a stronger incentive to pay on time.

When the budget is in trouble, it’s important to be straightforward about that as well so the issue can be addressed. You don’t want to be the brother who everyone knows passed gas, but you won’t own up to it. That’s the worst.

The Deep Rot: Calling in the Fraternity Financial Management Pros

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Fraternity financial software is a good first step to take when you’re feeling like your budget stench isn’t going away no matter how hard you scrub. Your chapter is in big trouble if the budget goes into the red and doesn’t get fixed as quickly as possible.

Although financial software isn’t just a bandage for your mistakes, it’s also one of the best preventative medicines out there. It can help with budgeting, online dues collection, bank transactions and financial reporting, among the many features available with some of this type of software.

One really important factor, however, is to seek out a software with a strong support staff. It’s important for experts to be able to guide you in using the software to improve the financial health of your fraternity chapter, and it can really be an eye opener if your chapter has never worked with financial advisors and planners before. So when we say to call in the pros, we don’t mean just boot up a program and walk away. We mean you should use that software as a tool through which experts can help you learn and improve budgeting for the long haul.

At the end of the day, fraternity brothers are men. Sometimes men smell funny. It’s one of the universe’s gifts, and it’s the gift that keeps on giving; once you’re finished puckering up and retching in disgust, you know something or someone needs to be cleaned.

Have you smelled your financial management lately? Where do you think it lands on the stink scale? Belch out your response in the comments below.


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