A sorority chapter cannot exist without a focus on managing their finances, which are essential to the activities and goals of all sisters and the chapter at large. A sorority chapter will often have a sizeable budget of up to tens of thousands of dollars to manage. The amount will vary depending on many factors including chapter size and the volume of alumnae giving. A sorority’s finances not only include the costs of their activities throughout the semester, but also must factor fees and expenses owed to the university, sorority officials and others. The budget is maintained through regulated duties performed by the chapter and its sorority chapter treasurer.
The sorority chapter treasurer’s main duties are typically to oversee the budget and collection of sisters’ membership dues. She additionally must inform the chapter, nationals and university of the chapter’s current finances. Other duties of the treasurer may be specific to each chapter, though the overarching job description is the same for sororities in general. The chapter president and other officers, financial advisors, the university Greek Life office, housing corporation and national advisors will assist the treasurer in her financial duties as needed. While membership dues comprise most of a chapter’s budget, other finances to consider may include small- and large-scale fundraising campaigns ranging from philanthropy efforts to housing renovations and other considerable costs. Whatever a chapter’s goals and activities each semester, sisters rely on sorority finances: A financially independent ecosystem within the chapter, where membership dues comprise a majority of the budget, drawn up and managed by the chapter and its treasurer, and additional costs, fees and alumnae donations must also be managed.
Sorority finances can be overwhelming and difficult to parse at first glance. That’s why OmegaFi wants to make things simpler and help balance your checkbook with some Fast Facts about Sorority Finances.
It would be incorrect to think of a budget as that which your treasurer sets at the beginning of the semester, a permanent document never to be changed. One of the financial facts a sorority chapter must grapple with is that their budget is carefully calculated but ultimately an estimate of how much dues money will be coming in and how much will be used on an item by item basis. Sorority budgets are perhaps aptly compared to those of a small business, wherein the financial reality may require adjustments to match unforeseen costs or savings. To have as accurate a budget as possible, the treasurer must draw up the budget according to the chapter’s regulations and guidelines. The amount budgeted will also determine the amount of membership dues that each sister must pay. Sisters may also have to pay on a payment plan or receive a discount for paying early. If a sister does not pay her dues, falls into academic dishonor, breaks other sorority rules or is arrested, she may be removed from the chapter. This means the number of members paying dues will decrease, and each sister will carry a heavier burden. New sisters may also have to pay initiation fees and other fees.
Thankfully, sorority finances are not a one-woman operation. Financial and budgeting decisions must be approved by the chapter and must meet the needs of other parties such as the housing corporation and national advisors. Your chapter likely has a system in place already for the budget process that will ease the treasurer’s job of managing funds each semester. The treasurer must maintain a paper trail regarding chapter finances and dues collection, and this will help keep the process transparent. This means all delinquencies, budget adjustments, approved reimbursements and alumnae donations are reported to officers, sisters and the sorority officials.
There is a reason that sorority chapter treasurer is one of the most daunting positions to hold as a sister. Budgeting and financial management, while they do not require you to hold a finance degree, are complex and have a profound impact on your chapter day in and day out.
While there are plenty of tools at a sorority treasurer’s disposal, there are also many factors to consider when budgeting that a treasurer needs to understand. Some of these include national and university fees, as well as housing costs, recruitment, socials and rituals, insurance, conference costs, meal plan vendor fees, administrative costs, scholarships, intramurals, fundraising and alumnae engagement, operational costs, t-shirts, jewelry, regalia, and other costs. A budget set too low leads to deficits and certain activities being scaled down or cut. A budget set too high will lead to unnecessarily high membership dues. A strong budget will be carefully considered and close to what will be spent during the semester or year, but will slightly overestimate costs and savings.
If shortfalls or savings occur, the sorority’s national organization may guide the chapter in how to handle these aspects of the budget.
In addition, sorority financial software such as OmegaFi’s Vault can help with budgeting and managing your sorority finances. Sorority software centralizes the chapter’s budget online, promoting financial transparency between sisters, parents, alumnae and nationals, as well as any other parties that are a part of the financial process. Sorority financial software can also help manage banking transactions electronically and can offer sisters and parents a way to pay dues and other costs online. Financial experts can also help guide you through the budgeting and financial management process.
If you are a sister in a sorority, fundraising is an important factor in how you manage your finances. Depending on whether you handle your fundraising efforts well or poorly, the outcomes and the effects on your chapter can be drastically different. How a chapter approaches fundraising will depend on the scale of the fundraising goal, though all these efforts rely on some common principles. How a chapter engages with alumnae, as well as the visibility of the fundraising efforts (through social media, web presence, newsletters and engagement, and so forth), are crucial to a campaign’s success.
Some fundraising efforts will be handled within the chapter. However, for large-scale fundraising projects that are extensive in nature, such as for expensive renovations to the chapter house, a chapter may want to consider hiring fundraising experts, such as Pennington & Company. These fundraising specialists help a sorority set and achieve their fundraising goals. The services a sorority may find vital to their fundraising success are: feasibility studies, marketing and communications guidance, capital campaign development, alumnae engagement, gift management and strategic assessments.
A sorority’s management of finances is crucial, whether regarding budgeting, chapter dues or alumnae donations.
We here at OmegaFi know how important chapter finances are, and we would love nothing more than to help make it easier on you.