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Helpful Hints and Tips for the Collegiate Treasurer

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					Helpful Hints and Tips for the Collegiate Director of Finance
The following hints and tips come from your fellow Directors of Finance, as well as from your International Officers and Executive Office Staff. While not all of these will work for all of you, be creative and come up with your own ideas.!

Making the Job Easier
At a minimum, always have one assistant. If your chapter has enough members, fully utilize a committee (one member can do 30 day delinquent notices, one can track down 60 day delinquents, one can track the officers’ budgets, one can post the disbursements ledger, etc.). If your chapter can’t afford to give you a full committee, consider having two assistants. Keep regular office hours and post them so that the entire chapter knows when you’re available for receiving payments or working out problems. Computerize as much as you can, even if you develop only shells to use. Know when reports are due and start them early enough so you have time to file them on time. Don’t put off doing them. Keep funds that are to flow through to the HCB in another checking account and utilize an assistant or committee member to maintain the account. A wonderful resource is the Treasurer’s Manual on the CD-Romual. have one, you can order one from the Executive Office. Be organized, have a good filing system and keep up with it. Keep current with accounts receivable. Keep up with your posting. Don’t delay going to the bank to make your deposits. Don’t ever accept cash for payment. Use a committee member or your assistant to help you with the easier parts of collections. For example, let someone else prepare the letters that are to be sent out to delinquent members (but double check their work since any errors will come back to haunt YOU!). Get your Executive Council and Chapter Operations Adviser involved in the collection process (let one of them go with you when you’re suspending a member and you need to get hold of her badge and Membership Certificate, for example). There’s no need for you to always be “the bad guy,” and they should know what’s going on anyway. Utilize your Chapter Operations Adviser (but don’t have her doing all of your job!). When negotiating with a company for favors, sportswear, etc., see if they will accept checks directly from chapter members in payment.
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If your chapter doesn’t

Officer Transition
As an outgoing Director of Finance, it’s your responsibility to make sure that the incoming Director of Finance receives good transition training. You also need to be sure to remain available to her for some time following transition (remember how many questions you had when you first started?). Document your successes and failures in a manual for your successor. She’ll have an easier time of it if she doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. Apprentice a new Director of Finance by easing your assistant or an interested finance committee member into the job prior to elections (be sure that she’ll be elected, though, or all your training will be for nothing). Identify potential Director of Finance candidates early and let them sit in while you’re performing your job, so that they can see what it entails. For those of you who are following an inadequate Director of Finance, hang in there and remember how hard it was to get started and reorganized. Then, don’t leave the books in the same condition for your successor. For those of you who are following a great Director of Finance and aren’t having any problems, please realize just how difficult it would be for you if your predecessor hadn’t been great. Try to leave your books in the same condition that you found them.

Dues, Fees, and Discounts
Collect dues and fees in the largest “chunk” possible. In other words, try to make the payment of dues and fees on a semesterly basis normal and the payment of dues and fees on a monthly basis the exception. Offer discounts to those paying an entire semester or year in the beginning of the year. Some discount programs that are being used are: a straight dollar amount ($25 off per semester; $10 off per semester or $25 off per year; “paying” the member’s International dues in return for payment in full for the year), or a percentage discount. Several chapters put the names of everyone who pays the year in full into a drawing; the member’s name that’s drawn gets her full dues refunded to her (if your chapter can’t afford this, try a variation). One chapter gives Bid Day T-shirts to those who pay in full. If collecting on a semesterly basis is already the norm for your chapter or if you’d like to move your chapter to paying semesterly, consider imposing a modest surcharge on anyone who wants to pay on a plan. One chapter charges $5 extra per payment made through a payment plan.

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Be creative, but let your Executive Council and members know what you’re doing and why.

Budgeting
Don’t break your budget into a million little pieces (for example, don’t break the social budget out into “formal,” “informal,” “mixers,” etc.). It makes it harder to post your disbursements ledger and to complete your CFMRs. Let your program officers maintain their own department and committee budgets for the nitty-gritty detailed stuff. Forms that can be used for this are included in this mailing. Give the program officers a monthly report on where their budgets stand. This doesn’t need to be formal - just a quick summary schedule will do and it will eliminate potential problems down the road. If a director proposes a function that will take her over budget, this should go to the Executive Council for a vote – someone else’s budget will have to be cut and both the EC and the VPs should know about it. It may well be that the proposed function will have to be eliminated or changed to save money. You should make an annual budget presentation to your chapter. The survey showed that Directors of Finance who did had no difficulty in getting the membership to accept a dues increase, while those who didn’t make such a presentation had problems. While attempting to get dues increased, make pie charts or other graphs showing how the increase will be allocated to different budgets. The membership (and the Executive Council and, perhaps, even you) may be surprised to see that the Chapter Events budget may get a larger share of the increase than other areas. Your dues are high enough if the current level provides enough money to give each sister a quality Alpha Phi experience and your dues are comparable to other sororities on campus. Dues should be raised if either is no longer true. As a general rule, think about raising dues every other year or so, for two reasons: first, chapter members will come to expect a dues increase as normal, and second, the chapter’s finances won’t have the opportunity to get into such a deep hole that only a huge increase will dig the chapter out. By systematically raising dues every other year, increases won’t have to be so large and members won’t notice the increase so much. If you are considering a discount program, be sure to budget for it. You should make an educated assumption about who will prepay and you may need to increase dues nominally to account for the discount. If you assess a surcharge for a payment plan, don’t include the anticipated surcharge income in your receipts budget. You should assume that all members will pay in full. Any surcharges that are collected will become “found” money to the chapter.
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NEVER, NEVER, NEVER include the possible payment of delinquent dues or fees from prior years in your receipts budget. The chapter (and its Social Budget) will be have serious problems if the anticipated payments aren’t made. If amounts due from prior years do come in, it’s “found money.” Put it into a savings account since you didn’t expect it. Let a committee member track the officers’ budgets for you. Be sure to make copies of approved department budgets so both you and the department officer have one. Don’t be afraid to cut an officer’s preliminary budget. Just let her know why. Always make sure that your budget balances. Your total receipts must equal total disbursements. If your disbursements exceed your receipts, you’ll be in deep trouble. Every member has a right to know how her dues are being allocated to chapter operations costs. Determine what percentage of her dues goes to Rush, Chapter Activities, Social, etc., and make a presentation to the Chapter as part of your financial awareness programming. For those chapters with fall rush, don’t forget to revise and finalize your budget following rush. For those chapters with deferred rush, it’s okay to wait until the spring. It’s always all right to revise your budget if there’s a significant change to what was originally anticipated (for example, if your chapter’s COB efforts are much better or worse than you expected). Just don’t revise your budget five or six times in a year.

Collections and Accounts Receivable
ALWAYS get a signed contract every year, from every member. If you ever want to turn the account over to a collection agency or attorney, you’ll need it to legally bind the delinquent member to making payment. Get annual contracts signed in the spring, right after you do your preliminary budget and know what dues will be. Members are more likely to sign contracts then (this is particularly true for juniors who may become senior “phantom” Phis in the fall). Some states’ laws require a person to be 19 or 21 to be able to sign a contract and be legally bound by it. If this is true in your state, or, in other states, if the member is under 18, be sure to get a parent or guardian’s signature, too. Make sure your contracts outline EVERYTHING a member might be charged. This includes late fines, surcharges, rush fines, etc. and also what the consequences of non-payment are. You should include any discount programs, due dates; basically, make sure the contract is crystal clear so there are no misunderstandings. Make sure your collection agency reports accounts to credit reporting agencies such as TRW, Equifax, or TransUnion and make sure the members know it. If their account ever gets turned
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over for collections, this means that their delinquency will show up every time they go for credit. Don’t be overly concerned when a collection agency wants to charge up to 50% of the amount due. First, they’ll only get their money if they collect your money. Second, if the account is that bad, you probably aren’t going to get paid without outside help anyway, and it’s better to recover 50% than 0%. Don’t spin your wheels when you can’t locate a member (or former member) who owes money to the chapter. Turn the account over to a collection agency and let them spin their wheels. Don’t forget to request terminations of membership from the International Executive Board, but be sure all the proper collection steps have been taken and that you can document them. Otherwise, the Board won’t consider your request. Don’t carry accounts receivable for years. If they haven’t been paid by the time the member graduates, they probably won’t be paid after she graduates, either. Write them off and just go forward. Get your Executive Council and Chapter Operations Adviser involved in the collection process. There’s no need for you to always be “the bad guy,” and they should know what’s going on anyway. Keep communications open between you, the Executive Council, the advisers, and the members owing money. Read a list of delinquent members’ names out loud monthly at a chapter meeting. Post the list (if possible) or publish it in your chapter’s internal newsletter. Peer pressure is a wonderful thing. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER allow anyone who owes money to the chapter to attend social functions. Make this part of your Standard of Financial Responsibility and you won’t have to change your bylaws. Don’t let anyone who owes money buy party favors or sportswear through an activity fees account. If she can’t afford to pay her dues, she can’t afford sportswear and favors. Don’t accept a personal check for a large overdue balance right before a social function or other function that a delinquent member is being prohibited from attending unless she pays. The check might bounce accidentally on purpose. Take other privileges away from members owing money. space, senior privileges, and the like. These might include losing a parking

If a member consistently bounces checks, accept only money orders or bank checks from her in the future. Never allow a member who owes money from a prior term to move back into the house. A landlord wouldn’t.
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Don’t let accounts receivable get away from you. Handle delinquent accounts in a professional manner. All through life, we’re expected to pay our way and Alpha Phi is no exception. You’re teaching life skills. Stick to what you believe in and don’t let them get you down. Over the summer, accept prepayments of amounts that will be due in the fall. Members are more likely to be working and may be more than willing to pay when they don’t have the pressures of school to deal with, too. You can “bank by mail” if you don’t live near the chapter’s bank. Consider using a local attorney as an alternative to a collection agency. Consistent use of your 30-60-90 day policy, quick notification to delinquent members, allowing few or no exceptions to the rules, being firm without being nasty are all keys to successful collections. Education of chapter members is another key. Don’t expect members to pay what they owe if they don’t know where their money is going, or if they don’t know what the consequences of non-payment are. Involve parents, if it seems appropriate, in the collections process. The member may have called home and asked for money to pay her dues and then spent the money at the mall. Mom and Dad have the right to know this. The Bursar’s office at many schools will work with campus organizations in “freezing” students’ accounts, and won’t allow students to register or graduate when money is due to these organizations. Find out if your school will do this. If they will, take advantage of the service and let the members know what will happen. If the school won’t cooperate, work within Panhellenic and IFC to get other sororities and fraternities behind you and try again. Don’t return security deposits to anyone who owes money. Be sure to document all the steps you take when you’re attempting to collect from a delinquent member. If you ever have to request a membership termination, the Executive Board will require proof that you’ve followed our 30-60-90 day collections procedures. If you don’t have proof, the Board won’t terminate the membership. Dealing with delinquent members is a tough job, but someone has to do it! Allowing a member who isn’t paying to continue to enjoy membership benefits does a disservice to both the member and the rest of the chapter membership.

Chapter Finance Monthly Reports
The bank reconciliation portion of the CFMR isn’t difficult to complete, even if your bank statements come to you sometime other than the end of the month. Provisions are made within
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the reconciliation to allow for this. If, however, you really have to complete your CFMRs to coincide with your bank statements, please tell us what whole month that CFMR is meant to represent. In other words, if your CFMR dates are from September 20 through October 19, write on the top of the form that this CFMR represents either September or October. Sometimes, it’s not clear to us and we want to you to get proper credit for the filing. The Cash Reconciliation section is really a reconciliation of your operating funds. It’s not meant strictly for cash. It’s meant to be completed by every chapter. PLEASE submit your accounts receivable listing with your CFMR. We don’t want this information so that we can take action against you or your chapter; we want to be able to identify a potential problem in the making so that we can help you. When you receive money owed from last year , don’t include it as a receipt on the normal line. Name a blank line “Prior Year” or “Accounts Receivable” and put it there. This is particularly true for dues and fees owed to International; these lines are meant to accurately reflect this year’s dues and fees collected on behalf of International. If you prepare a computer-generated accounts receivable listing, make sure it doesn’t include members who have prepaid as negative accounts receivable. First, those who have prepaid aren’t really negative accounts receivable, and, second, it understates the true figure. TOTAL your accounts receivable listing.

Accounting/Bookkeeping Services
If your chapter can afford it, consider hiring an outside bookkeeping firm to maintain your ledgers and provide the information needed to complete your CFMRs. There are many wonderful, local people or companies who will provide this service for a nominal monthly fee. Be sure to outline to them exactly what your expectations are, get a written contract (have your adviser review it), keep on top of them, but don’t forget that the final responsibility for your chapter’s finances rests with you. An accounting or bookkeeping service isn’t just for chapters that are housed. If you utilize a service, provide them with a copy of your budget and ask them to track both monthly and fiscal year-to-day receipts and disbursements against it. If you use a service and they prepare your CFMRs (or an equivalent), ask them to send a copy directly to the Executive Office. This way, you won’t have to remember to send it. If your service prepares your CFMRs, provide them with the detail listing behind the accounts receivable listing and ask them to include it as an exhibit within the CFMR.

Above all, have fun with the job and, no matter how difficult things
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may get, realize that you’re gaining priceless experience that you’ll be able to carry with you throughout your life. Always feel free to contact Cathy Koessl at (847) 316-8928 with any questions, comments, or concerns.

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