Ask Lynne Zander, DTM, why the Treasurer is so vital to the success of a club and its members. She’ll tell you about the Toastmaster who made it to the District level of a speech contest but was disqualified for failing to pay dues on time, which eliminated the member from good standing. The Toastmaster had paid the money, but the Club Treasurer had not submitted it to Toastmasters International World Headquarters. No one in previous rounds of the contest had thought to confirm the member’s standing. (Disqualification must occur even if the ineligibility of a member is discovered at a later level.)
“How sad it was that they had advanced all this way only to lose the opportunity to compete,” says Zander.
The lesson here is how crucial the Club Treasurer’s responsibilities can be, and that collecting dues is just one part of the job—without proper attention to the other duties, like submitting the dues, it can all fall apart. Keeping accurate records is crucial, says Zander who belongs to four different clubs in Ontario, Canada, and has served in a number of club officer roles, including Treasurer.
The Treasurer is akin to the club’s accountant. That means managing the club’s bank account, issuing checks approved by the Club Executive Committee, filing tax documents, submitting dues payments for new and renewing members, and keeping accurate financial records.
Zander is an enthusiastic advocate of the role, appearing in a bilingual video produced by District 61. She’s bright and engaging when talking about a job that can seem dry.
“We all love money,” she says in French and then English, “but you have to be responsible when you’re the treasurer of a group. It’s really important, because you are dealing with money that club members have paid.”
Yet Zander is no monetary genius. She doesn’t have a financial background. Her accounting tools? A spreadsheet to track income and expenses and a binder to hold bank statements and receipts. More important than financial knowledge, she says, are reliability, responsibility, trustworthiness, and honesty.
Allan Kaufman, DTM, is Treasurer for Randallstown Network Toastmasters in Pikesville, Maryland. He served as a financial officer with the United States Army Reserve, is a former statistician for the U.S. government, and holds a master’s degree in business administration (MBA). Yet he, too, does the job with only a spreadsheet, and believes it’s the soft skills—persistence, consistency, and honesty—that matter most.
Kaufman has been Club Treasurer for many years and jokes that he stays in the role because “it’s too hard to change the paperwork at the bank.” But if he takes himself lightly, he’s serious about the responsibilities of watching over the club’s money.
You should become Treasurer for one reason, he says: “Only if you want to help the club stay in business.”
And that brings up what’s on every Club Treasurer’s mind every six months.
“Getting people to pay their dues is a major challenge,” Zander says. She has accepted installment payments from members having financial struggles—a practice that should be an exception, not a rule, she adds. A club can offer small discounts to members who pay for a year instead of just six months; just be sure you’re careful in tracking the payments. (Clubs can only provide discounts for club-level dues, not for international-level membership dues.)
Zander and Kaufman agree that collecting dues is mostly a matter of persistence. “Email [club members] once, email them again, and then start calling on the phone,” Kaufman advises. “I call them and ask why they’re not renewing.”
When dues notices have gone out, all the bank accounts are caught up, and bills have been paid, there’s just one thing left for the Club Treasurer to do, Kaufman says: “Sit back and enjoy the meeting.”
Kate McClare, DTM is a professional copywriter and President of Miami Advanced Toastmasters Club in Miami, Florida. She gave her first Ice Breaker in 2011, shortly after joining Toastmasters.