Membership dues are a fact of life for sorority sisters, which they pay each semester as long as they are members, or until they graduate and become alumnae of their chapter. A sister who is delinquent on her dues will accrue penalties and punishments. A sister who is current on her dues will enjoy the benefits of chapter membership.
These benefits include tangible items and events that are budgeted for the semester’s allocation of all members’ dues, as well as intangible benefits such as sisterhood, networking and social relationships after college, and an improved collegiate experience. For instance, studies show that undergraduate sorority sisters are statistically more likely to graduate in four years than non-Greek college women. This may be due to a focus on academic success built into the Greek experience of most chapters. A sorority chapter’s membership dues form the basis of the chapter’s semesterly budget and are a direct means by which the chapter accomplishes its major goals regarding housing, event and ceremony planning, philanthropy outreach, social activities, promotion, recruitment, participation in intramural sports, and more.
A sorority chapter’s treasurer typically handles the collection of membership dues and allocation to a budget they’ve prepared with the help of the chapter president and other chairs. This budget can reach a total of tens of thousands of dollars. While specificsvary, budgeting for a sorority chapter can in a broad sense be compared to small business ownership. Sorority chapter members contribute to its operation, which requires careful budgeting, outreach and promotion to maintain. Like businesses, a sorority chapter seeks growth and suffers when finances are mismanaged, when campus presence is diminished (i.e. brand visibility) or when it is poorly maintained.
Yet unlike running a business, sorority dues are a unique and specific means by which a chapter’s budget is formed. Whereas a business relies on profit from its products or services sold to consumers, a sorority relies mainly on membership dues and other fees paid by sisters themselves. Outside funding is often supplementary.
To effectively understand the specific financial structure of a sorority chapter’s day-to-day operations throughout the semester, we must answer the question: What Are Sorority Dues?
Joining a sorority chapter means paying membership dues, but it also means accruing a number of costs and investments set by the chapter that aren’t covered by dues. For instance, a sister will often pay expenses such as pledge and initiation fees, a Panhellenic facility fee and national dues, on top of regular membership dues. They might also have to pay for additional items such as t-shirts for recruitment events, contributions to philanthropies and gifts to little sisters in their family trees later on. These amounts can add up quickly into the thousands, so it’s important that each potential sorority sister weigh the costs against the amount they’re comfortable paying each semester to be part of the Greek community. A sister may also have housing and meal plan costs to consider.
Independent of all other costs and fees, a sorority chapter’s membership dues are what a sister pays explicitly to participate as a lettered member. A sorority sister’s dues average a little over $1,000 per semester, though this will vary by chapter and cost of operation. Sisters may be offered the option to pay in increments throughout a semester. They might also be given a percentage discount for paying up front.
The sorority treasurer’s job entails--among other financial responsibilities--encouraging the payment of membership dues by fellow sisters. Ultimately, though, each sister is responsible to be punctual with dues payment. If she will not meet this obligation, consequences may be enacted such as lost privileges, being placed on inactive status until no longer delinquent, or even legal redress through the process of collections.
Each sister pays an amount of dues determined by the revenue a chapter will need for its expenses and activities throughout a semester, taking into account possible past debt or future savings. A good chapter treasurer will overestimate cost and underestimate the income of membership dues. This will help avoid ending the semester with a deficit or significant negative impact on the chapter’s goals. Although the chapter treasurer sets the budget to which sisters’ dues contribute, she is often aided by other executives such as the chapter president and other chairs in determining how much each chair will need for her planned activities throughout the semester. General, overall fees and costs paid by the chapter are also set during this time.
Sorority membership dues may contribute to any number of budgeted items, including but not limited to: conference attendance, recruitment, associate member retreats/education, scholarship, administrative costs, cost of software or other tools, website maintenance, intramural sports fees, Panhellenic council fees, philanthropy, rituals, socials and formals (venue, food, marketing, etc.), alumnae engagement, composite photographs and more. It is incumbent upon the chapter treasurer to provide dues-paying sisters with transparency and regular access to the budget, so that each sister can properly understand what her dues are funding.
A treasurer may also seek the usage of sorority financial software such as OmegaFi’s Vault. This type of sorority software helps manage dues collection and banking transactions, gives members and other appropriate parties (such as parents) access to online payment and updates sisters with reminders of payment due dates. It also offers access to professional representatives to aid in setting and maintaining a chapter budget.
Regardless of the treasurer’s method in accomplishing tasks related to budgeting, she should also maintain a current record of sorority dues each semester, paid in part or full, as well as remainders due. The treasurer should also record budget items, expenses, surpluses or deficits, as well as any other crucial aspects of the budget, according to her national organization’s standards. A fluent and cohesive relationship should be maintained between chapter treasurer, other executive members, and all dues-paying sisters regarding dues, their payment and their implementation.
Sorority dues are a fact of life for sisters who are lettered members within a chapter. These dues form the financial center of a chapter’s operations each semester. Their payment and management are crucial in order for the chapter to succeed as part of the larger university community.