7 Ways to Get Brothers and Sisters to Pay Their Dues
If you’re a fraternity or sorority leader, you know that collecting dues can be an awkward, tedious, and time-consuming process. Nobody likes asking their friends for money, and the first time I had to do it, I felt less like a leader and more like Al Capone.
But believe it or not, the dues collection process presents one of the best leadership growth opportunities you can experience on campus. By following these 7 steps, you’ll not only get your dues much faster, you’ll improve your EQ, communication skills, and become a leader worth following within your fraternity or sorority.
So without further ado, here are 7 ways to get brothers and sisters to pay their dues.
1. Share the budget during chapter
As a new member, I vividly remember balking at the cost of dues, thinking could it really cost this much to run a fraternity?
The answer is yes. Once our treasurer went line-by-line through the budget at chapter, it all started to make sense. Between new member registration fees, active member dues, our social budget and more, I began to appreciate how expensive running a Greek organization can be – and that frankly, we were getting a deal.
Nobody likes throwing money into a hole, so laying out the budget and being 100% transparent with your members will help them understand where their money is going – and how it directly benefits them.
2. Demonstrate value.
Budget and value are different. Budget is the stuff your members pay for, while value is what they get from it!
So as dues season approaches, remind your members why your organization exists. Lay out your social calendar for the year, get everyone excited about new initiatives, and remind them how membership supports their long-term success via scholarships, alumni connections, and endless networking opportunities.
Have some senior brothers or sisters back you up by telling stories about the value they’ve gotten from the org, whether it’s increased academic achievement, a sense of connection, or simply access to better parties on campus (hey, nothing wrong with that!).
3. Make it extremely easy to pay
One of the most surprisingly common reasons brothers and sisters don’t pay their dues on time is because they don’t know how. It’s either a confusing pain, or the instructions are buried in their email.
So instead of having your Treasurer fire out increasingly passive aggressive emails, give everyone a chance to pay their dues during chapter. Put a PayPal address on the screen, generate a QR code, text a link to everyone’s phone, and generally do everything you can to make it a one-step process.
4. Work with non-paying members one-on-one
After completing steps 1 through 3, you’re bound to still have a bunch of holdouts.
This presents you with an invaluable opportunity to practice some leadership skills that will serve you for life. Namely: communication, relationship building, and empathy.
Make a list of every non-paying member and start approaching each of them one-on-one. Depending on how many are left, you may need to divide and conquer with your Treasurer and VP of Membership.
During each conversation, simply ask “hey, I noticed you haven’t paid your dues yet. We really value your membership and I just wanted to make sure the feeling is mutual. Is there something you’re hoping to get out of the org that you’re not seeing?”
When you approach them with curiosity and empathy rather than frustration – and frame things in terms of what they want – you’ll build a connection and have a better outcome to the conversation. You might learn that they just needed more time. Or a payment plan.
Or maybe they were simply on the fence about their membership, and your sisterly act of reaching out to ask about their needs encouraged them to stay!
5. After a certain date, begin sharing a list of non-paying members
Some Greek leaders say you should do this from the outset as a form of peer pressure.
But in my experience, this is a mistake.
While it’s tempting to “punish” non-paying members with a dose of public shaming, keep in mind that not everyone who’s delinquent on their dues is a selfish freeloader. Again, some might be waiting for a paycheck, while others might be feeling lonely or disconnected.
In either case, is a healthy dose of peer pressure really going to help?
Probably not, which is why step 4 is so crucial; not only for them, but for you as their leader.
That being said, it’s totally fair to announce in chapter that you’ll begin sharing a list of all non-paying members by a certain date. That gives everyone fair notice and will encourage them to accept your invitations to chat one-on-one.
6. Be firm on the consequences
After all the effort you put through in steps 1 through 5, it might be tempting to still let certain members slide. Maybe everyone likes them, they contribute value in other ways, or maybe you’re just tired of asking.
But when someone wins by attrition and keeps enjoying paid membership privileges, what kind of message does that send to everyone else in the fraternity or sorority?
It says membership is free for Jack/Jackie, but not for you.
Allowing freeloaders into the midst can be extremely toxic to a Greek organization and rapidly breeds resentment – both towards them for mooching and towards you for not enforcing the rules.
Instead, make it abundantly clear that every brother or sister who remains on the non-paying list after a certain date will be suspended. No house access, no social events, nada.
You might feel like a hardass, but trust me, you’re not; you’re a hero for holding the organization together, and a strong leader who holds others accountable.
7. Consider collections as an absolute last resort
Since all of your members signed legally-binding membership agreements, you can technically take non-paying members to small claims court or hire a collections agency to collect their dues.
It sounds drastic, but I’ve seen it happen. You might even know other leaders on campus who’ve done it.
But consider the consequences first: taking a brother or sister to court can not only be a bad look, it can also devastate their credit score, making it harder for them to buy a car or a house. Not very sisterly!
Taking a member to court might make sense if they’ve since graduated with thousands in debt to your organization. But for members falling behind on a semester or two of dues, it might make more sense to simply check your bylaws and see if you can quietly excuse them from the organization. Chances are that if they haven’t paid their dues and have already been suspended in step 6, they won’t put up much resistance to the idea of quietly moving on.
To summarize, what might’ve seemed like a tedious exercise in debt collection can actually be a chance to practice essential leadership skills like EQ, empathy, communication, patience, and holding others accountable. All skills that will help you for life, and encourage others to follow your example.