Last updateWed, 28 Feb 2018 12pm

Ask the Experts

Nest Egg

Our fraternity needs expensive renovations. How can we raise the money?

This question will test the relationship between the college administration and the frat house. All student housing needs to be maintained to a certain standard to comply with college regulations. Universities are primarily concerned with the well-being of their students, so your fraternity building must be kept in safe condition.

The responsibility for maintenance is determined by the agreement between the fraternity and college. This is not a standard contract and will vary from campus to campus. Many colleges feel that frat houses are beyond control and need to be self-regulating. They will often try to distance themselves from fraternities legally and draw up a chapter occupancy agreement to cover tenancy and the physical condition of the buildings.

When renovations are needed the responsibility usually falls on the fraternity to raise the funding. Many believe that fraternity alumni have deep pockets, but soliciting former brothers is not always successful. Costs have risen so much in the past two decades that renovation can now cost more than the original structure.

Building a reserve fund for the chapter should be a top priority. This begins by educating your governing board on the costs of repair and renovation and the consequences of delaying work. Gifts and fundraising programs from brothers and their families are another source of funding. A phased plan for renovation or replacement of the chapter house should be set out. Surveys on the physical condition of the building, fixtures and fittings should also be undertaken. This helps justify requests for contributions, if you have documented your immediate needs.

Monthly rent should include a contribution to the reserve fund along with a surcharge attached to initial membership fees. An annual fundraiser should be held with clear goals of property renovations as the targets. All funds must be properly managed and completely transparent, including documentation for any repairs done.

Renovations keep your chapter house competitive with other frats and student housing. Along with the physical building, an investment in the infrastructure such as the heating and air conditioning, electrical systems and sewer repair should be evaluated. These can lead to greater energy efficiency and lower utility bills. Computer access and internet connectivity has become a key component of student housing so should be included in any renovation plan.

Regardless of planning, large-scale renovation will require closing the house, typically for an academic year. Phased renovation will mean closing sections or entire floors of the house for small-scale indoor work. This can include wifi installation, mold remediation and bathroom remodeling. During this time, brothers in their junior or senior years often lose the option of living in the house, so the incoming class can use available rooms

Let us be what we say we are: a fraternity, not a club, run by men, and not boys, and based on ideals, not expediency… Ralph Daniel.

Suzanne Hite is a former publications editor serving the technology services sector.

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The Outlook
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and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
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The Outlook
Monmouth University
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