My local fraternity is fairly large with 60-70 people. We have a house that holds about 30 men, so we are very close among each other (all pledge classes) and socially active. Frequently in chapter meeting the problem of fellow brothers not paying dues brings to mind a question of how to deal with those brothers.
For example, a brother has been living in the house for 2 years, eats the food, goes to socials, but never pays dues. What is the fraternity to do about such a problem?
We have tried issuing a periodic reminder for the brothers that do not pay dues but that does not seem to incentivize them to pay. Should a punishment be instituted to incentivize a brother into paying his dues? Should a particular punishment include a suspension of the brother (and even kicked out of the house) for those who have extraordinary dues? Is that conflicting with the rules of “brotherhood”? We seem to be locked in a stalemate about what to do, because the fraternity cannot function without dues, yet those who do not pay are essentially living, eating, and partying for free off of those who do pay.
This is a challenging issue that a lot of chapters face. As a result, I wrote an entire chapter (in fact is the very first chapter) titled “Members Who Fail to Pay Dues” in my new book: The Chapter President – Preparing Sorority and Fraternity Leaders for the Unexpected.
Since this is a very important issue – I have included that chapter below. If you think this is of value – please consider learning more about my latest book on Amazon by CLICKING HERE.
Members Who Fail to Pay Dues
This is a huge issue in new chapters or chapters that aren’t run professionally. Nothing would upset me more than seeing a fraternity brother blow tons of money at the bar every weekend when I know he’s thousands of dollars in debt to the chapter. Here are the eight steps you need to take to make sure your members stay current on their dues.
First, you need to make sure that chapter members feel they are getting value for the dues they are paying. Not only is that an essential goal for you as a leader, it is common sense. If your members believe they are getting a good return on their dues investment, they are more likely to pay.
Second, chapter expenditures must be transparent. By that, I mean that everyone in the chapter should know where the money is going. This means that the treasurer actually has to do his job and report to the chapter how the money is being spent every week. Doing so also tells the membership how much money the chapter needs to accomplish its goals. If these goals are important to the chapter—and they should be—then members will be more eager to pay their dues.
Third, members need to have a financial incentive to pay. If you can give a nominal discount for paying early, then it is in your best interest to do so. This is actually the exact same thing as having a fine for late payment, but it is much more palatable to the membership.
Fourth, you need to ask for dues professionally. You do this by sending a dues statement to every member, every semester. In this statement, make it clear when dues are due and how to pay. You also need to send a receipt when you receive payment.
Fifth, make it easy to pay. I am not a huge fan of dues-collection companies because of the fees they charge. I just don’t think the chapter needs to incur these fees to collect. The treasurer should always take a payment. He should never say, “Pay me later.” The chapter should also be able to collect electronically via PayPal or similar services.
Sixth, collect promissory notes from members who do not pay on time. This note should include the member’s payment plan, which spells out when he will make good on his debt. Be sure to do a quick Google check on promissory notes to see whether your state requires that they include specific information.
Seventh, the treasurer’s weekly report must include the dues owed to the chapter. The amount owed by each offending member must be specified. Peer pressure will do wonders to get members to pay. If members are offended by being called out, then there is a very easy solution to their problem. They can pay their dues.
Eighth, make sure the chapter bylaws include a clear policy on what happens if a member does not pay his dues. The last thing you want is the offending member to accuse you of playing favorites because of an inconsistent policy. Fines and suspension of privileges should be included in this policy.
The final stage of this policy should be terminating membership and sending the offending person’s debt to a collection agency. If you have the promissory note, you will have all the paperwork you need.
This eight-point procedure may seem harsh, but there is a huge culture difference between collecting dues as a club vs. as a professional organization.
Don’t forget for a second that the members who are not paying their dues on time are mooching off the chapter. They are not meeting their obligations. If you don’t hold them accountable, you are actually doing them a disservice. What happens when they enter the real world and don’t pay their bills or mortgage? By forcing them to uphold the commitments they make in college, you are preparing them to be financially responsible for life.