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The fraternal community has moved quickly to make health and safety the number one priority during the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19). The sustained disruption to campus activities can put a financial strain on chapters, leaving a lot for headquarters to sort through. Where do you begin to focus your efforts to make the best use of your resources?
Billhighway | greekbill President, Tom Bomberski, shared his thoughts on how to ensure that your chapters are able to return to normal operations when cleared to do so. He emphasized the importance of proper cash management and fraud monitoring, summarized below.
In the current situation, you have the most control over the management of the spend tools that are available to chapters. Focus your cash management efforts here to get your arms around chapter cash flow and build up a conservative cash reserve:
Prepaid cards may have funds loaded on them to cover chapter spend that is no longer occurring. Consider unloading prepaid cards so that funds can be saved to cover essential expenses. Ask yourself if prepaid cards are necessary for the remainder of the semester or if they should be cancelled?
Review any outstanding checks that have yet to be cashed. If the checks have long been outstanding, should they be cancelled so the funds can be reallocated?
Review all scheduled online bill pay transactions. Are they still necessary? Or should you cancel the upcoming transactions?
Unfortunately, fraudsters are going to take advantage of this chaotic time. Use your resources to keep a close eye on the following areas:
Start asking yourself if you need to tighten up any existing controls. Who has access to spend tools? Who has access to checks? Do we need to add approvals?
Similarly, ask yourself if you should be adding any extra eyes at a headquarters level to monitor activity and help with the additional workload. Consider making their access ‘read only’ to avoid any potential mishaps.
Now is the time to keep an extra eye on expenditure reporting to help identify any red flags early on. Focus your efforts on the highest risk areas.
Have best practices available for chapters to avoid scams and help them fact-check information. Let chapters know how you plan to disseminate information and directions, so they know where to expect it from and can raise a red-flag if they are receiving directions from elsewhere.
As it relates to cash management and fraud protection, you should act early and decisively. Overseeing chapter finances can be a challenging position for chapter officers in normal times. During COVID-19, these stresses are heightened. Reinforce communication and best practices with chapters so they feel comfortable coming to headquarters when something feels off.
Billhighway | greekbill will continue to monitor and share information to help you navigate chapter finances during COVID-19.
It’s difficult to put together your financial plan for fall without knowing what the future holds. A good method is to plan out three scenarios that chapters can pivot to depending on the circumstances come fall. Take your current plan for the fall and outline the following three scenarios:
It isn’t fun to have to plan out any of these scenarios, but doing so will allow you to be agile should a change in the standard plan be needed. Once you have it mapped out, start managing to the middle ground, Scenario B, now.
Ask yourself, from a cash management perspective, what moves do you need to make today to sustain through that period? If it looks like you would need to have access to a line of credit, should you start looking into that now?
As part of your planning efforts, also keep your eye on the governmental programs that are coming up. There are several, like the CARES Act and SBA Disaster Loans, that could help you sustain through the middle ground scenario in the fall.
Planning to multiple outcomes and reviewing budgets will be an essential part of your organization’s COVID-19 strategy. Billhighway | greekbill will continue to monitor and share information to help you navigate chapter finances during COVID-19.