This question was submitted by one of our readers. If you have a question you want me to answer go here to submit it: Fraternity Advice.
I am regional officer for my fraternity and the one main issues I have with my chapters I am responsible for is they are behind on their national dues. What is the best way I can get them out debt?
Great question! The first thing you need to ask is how did they get behind on their national dues in the first place? Poor budgeting/financial planning or no chapter budget at all? Lack of prioritization of expenses? Chapters always have funds available for social functions it seems.
As a regional officer, the next person in your “chain of command” is the local chapter advisor, so I would suggest your first conversation be with him and/or the chapter’s financial advisor, if they have one. If not, it might be a good idea for them to recruit one!
Secondly, discuss with the chapter advisor and the officers – particularly the president and treasurer, how they determine their annual budget and expenses for the year. If this is a problem with all the chapters in your region, consider requiring them to submit an annual budget to you for approval at the start of each year.
National dues obligations should not be any surprise to them as it is part of “doing business” as a “licensee” of the national organization. As with most national fraternities, failure to meet your dues and other obligations can lead to administrative suspension – which adversely effects the total operation of the chapter until the debt is cleared. Because of this issue, many fraternities are now requiring chapters to submit written budgets as part of meeting minimum standards for operation.
How large is the debt? If this has been going on for some time, chapters can feel overwhelmed with what they owe and wonder how they will ever be able to pay it all. Again, most national offices are willing to work with chapters in creating a workable payment plan to make it manageable, as long as the chapter agrees to adhere to the plan.
Finally, what is the chapter’s attitude toward the national organization? Unfortunately, many chapters view their national office as an enemy, just looking for a reason to collect money or remove their charter. Help educate them that the national office exists solely to support every chapter. It is their knowledge and resources that make the organization run smoothly. National dues provide funding to offset costs for conferences, fraternity leadership programs, scholarships and traveling staff among other things. By not paying national dues on time and in full, a chapter effects the quantity and quality of services and resources available to EVERY chapter – not just their own.
– This answer was written by Dick Baker, an alumni brother from Pi Kappa Phi and new contributor for the thefraternityadvisor.com. If you are interested in writing for thefraternityadvisor.com – let us know (CLICK HERE)!
Dick Baker has been an alumni volunteer for Pi Kappa Phi for over 15 years, currently serving as a regional governor. He is also a past member of the national foundation staff, served as a chapter advisor and ritual advisor. He currently serves as the Chair of Pi Kappa Phi’s National Standing Committee on Volunteers and was named the fraternity’s “Volunteer of the Year” in 2010.
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