This three-part series looks at seven challenges with chapter and national dues processing and provides advice and action steps for solving them. We suggest you read Part 1: How to Decrease the Time Spent on Chapter Dues Processing prior to this post. You can view that post here >>
National and chapters should each focus their efforts on the strengths and value they bring to the relationship:
No one likes waiting to be paid. You can’t pay bills until the overdue payments arrive. Resentment brews. Unfortunately, delays in dues disbursements are a frequent occurrence in the National-chapter relationship.
We’ve heard of national associations waiting more than 45 days to receive their portion of dues payments from chapters. And, vice versa: National taking too long to rebate dues to chapters.
What’s worse, the delay itself isn’t the only problem. Sometimes chapters send the incorrect amount of dues to you. Or, if you have no way of knowing how many members a chapter really has, it can’t be sure the amount sent is even correct.
ACH also makes monthly dues installments and membership auto-renewals easier because the account information doesn’t change as often as credit cards. (Although, card networks are implementing account updater functionality to solve this problem.)
We know of an association that didn’t receive funds on time from chapters. Plus, they weren’t confident in the data received from chapters and suspected that member numbers were under-reported. They also spent a great deal of time looking over the shoulders of chapter leaders who weren’t too financially savvy.
To relieve the administrative burden of chapter leaders (and solve those other problems), they now leverage a payment bridge from their AMS to a financial/payment solution through which all funds and information flow when member payments are made at the chapter level.
The data and appropriate financial information now flow to the member record in National’s database, and from there the payment information and records flow into National’s financial management solution.
Tip: Present any new solution (change) in terms that appeal to the chapter’s perspective. Because no one likes change, focus on how the solution solves their problems and how it will positively impact their staff/volunteers and members.
Would you be willing to receive data and money instantaneously if we set up a way to collect it and we paid our portion? We’ll solve the administrative challenge for you, decrease your costs, automatically create the accounting and general ledger entries for you to track and report, and instantly send the funds to your bank account?
Now, how can they pass up that solution? You can sweeten the pot by telling them you’ll arrange technical support and training, data backups, and system security.
Chapter funds are mismanaged in two ways: unintentionally due to staff or volunteer leaders’ lack of bookkeeping or financial experience, or intentionally due to fraudulent activity. In either case, it’s a problem for chapters, National, and your mutual members.
The best thing to do is to not put chapters in this position in the first place.
Chapter Treasurer is not a sought-after job for a reason. Members don’t have the time (or the desire) to work on financial and data reports at night or on weekends.
Start small. Find early adopters at some of your chapters and get them on board first. Work out any bugs with them. Encourage those change ‘champions’ to talk up the value and impact of the new solution with other chapters.
By providing solutions to help chapter volunteer leaders (and staff) focus on what’s really important, you’ll reduce their stress level and help make the leadership role more desirable. Plus, you’ll ensure that data and information flows in a timely manner between your association and its chapters.
Our next post will share ways to improve the dues process and strengthen your relationship with chapters.