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Thread: Chasing unpaid subs

  1. #1
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    Chasing unpaid subs

    Hi

    I fell into being Chair of a group that had no committee, oversight or structure really, 3 years ago. It's taken time to get the Charity Commission reporting up to date, form a comittee, get access to bank accounts, bills etc etc. We manage 3 buildings, 170 odd kids across 8 sections.

    Don't worry it's only a meeting 3 times a year was the opening line 3 years ago ..........

    Anyway I'm just finally getting round to looking into subs payments, which I think are 30% short. First section I've delved into it seems half the parents aren't paying. Payments are generally by standing order with a few paying on OSM.

    Has anyone got some good advice on how to pursue these parents, the committee probably won't agree to my one line email saying "pay up or we'll kick our your child" and as I suspect I will have quite a few to pursue any advice from others who have been through the same on how to go about this more politely would be great.

    Thanks

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    First go with a polite, but personalised email.... "We have noticed you have not been paying subs for little Freddie since he started with us in July 2018".
    This will flush out those who think that they are already paying, but forgot to set up the standing order / assumed the other parent had done it etc. They may ignore a general email, thinking it doesn't apply to them, but will respond once its pointed out. Decide what your policy on back-payment is and be consistent.

    Hopefully that will address quite a few of your 30%, then it gets harder!!!
    "Rach..... what do I do with the instant whip once it's boiling???"

    AESL Phoenix (Afon) Cardiff
    SAGGA
    Birmingham Uni Scout and Guide Club (BUSAG) and SSAGO chairman many years ago....

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    Map Geek marcush's Avatar
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    Be aware subs are classed as donations, so be very careful in chasing back payments. Your best bet is to put a policy in from now and write off anything previously.

    Rule 66. A map and compass offers no protection against getting horribly lost.

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    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    OSM fanboys will tell you move them to OSM don't give them a choice. I'm not disagreeing. I know the one unit that does use gocardless and osm in our district has something like a 95% payment rate.

    Also agreeing with the personal direct email rather than a general one.

    Does our equal opportunities policy apply to those that are skint? Well, it says "socio-economic status".

    We put a note at the bottom of payment requests something like "As ever, if money is an issue, please talk to a leader in confidence." we live in a fairly decent area, so most parents are (a) embarrassed they forgot (b) mortified at even the slightest suggestion they may be struggling for money.
    Ian Wilkins
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcush View Post
    Be aware subs are classed as donations, so be very careful in chasing back payments. Your best bet is to put a policy in from now and write off anything previously.
    Bit of an oddity but whilst they are classed as donations from a Gift Aid Point of view, as a group you set your subscription level and make it known that the amount quoted is what it costs to be a member of your Group.

    I do agree that you may be on a hiding to nothing trying to claim back subs from three years ago though.

    I personally would probably try going back to last April or even September or January and make it known that these are required and that to be a member that is what is required and if there are any issues re affordability that a request be made to the GSL or Treasurer.

    That said in this Groups case somehow they have had sufficient in to be able to run and pay AMS and everything else and not notice that not everyone was paying the subs.

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    Senior Member big chris's Avatar
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    unpaid subs are absolutely the easiest way to get rid of a kid in scouting! so the donations thing is a red herring.

    i would try to get last terms and this. but it sounds like the fault lies as equally with the group.

    But in future... pay up or talk to us needs to be the line and if no communication ... ship out.

    NB. with OSM we achieved near 100% subs payment from a rather ropey level before that

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    Scout Leader (Bosun) Nick's Avatar
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    We always have the following at the bottom of all our requests for payments

    The Scout Group believe that every child should be able to fully participate in Scouting events regardless of the financial situation of their parents. It may be possible to provide assistance with subs and camp fees. Please speak in confidence to the Scout Leader or the Group Scout Leader.

    We sometimes get a family going through a hard patch who we need to help out, money is also available at District and County level for hardship cases. We now request all our payments through OSM and the number of outstanding subs payments has noticably decreased.

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    I get 100% payment, but we're not a big group. And, sometimes it's like pulling teeth.

    Not because folk are skint mind, they're just busy paying their ridiculous mortgages.

    More often than not, parents are mortified (or pretend to be mortified) if they haven't paid. Generally, I think, they're more worried about other parents knowing they haven't paid.

    Otherwise, we're quite direct. A letter goes out with an envelope to put the subs in, it trickles back. Any stragglers get a reminder via their kids, then another one via email, then it's an open message on the Facebook page and via open email naming names.

    I'm joking, we don't do that. We just say we haven't received all the subs, could you please check your records... After that, we photograph their child/children and advertise them on eBay.

    (Joking...)

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    GSL & AESL shiftypete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcush View Post
    Be aware subs are classed as donations, so be very careful in chasing back payments. Your best bet is to put a policy in from now and write off anything previously.
    Subs are in no way donations they are membership fees which in terms of gift aid are specifically allowed as well as donations.

    Peter Andrews AESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
    www.falkonerscouts.org.uk

    Previous Scouting Roles
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    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

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    Very Old Member BigBadBaloo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcush View Post
    Be aware subs are classed as donations, so be very careful in chasing back payments. Your best bet is to put a policy in from now and write off anything previously.
    Subs are most definitely not a donation! They may be classed as such by HMRC to enable gift aid to be claimed but POR makes clear (for once!) that " Members must also pay any Country, County, District and Group Membership Subscription determined locally." (POR 3.1n)
    [my bold]

    Clearly, if subs are not paid, then the person from whom they are due cannot be a member.
    Peter

    Former CSL - 2nd Bracknell


    A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. Lao Tzu (600 BC - 531 BC)

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    Senior Member Taeniura's Avatar
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    My wife's group use OSM and Go Cardless. Getting subs in at one time was a nightmare. Leaders said it was not their job to chase parents for money or they did not like asking for money. they are now two years down the OSM Go Cardless route and have a 100% success rate Not all want to pay by standing order and there is the odd one who pays by cash and two who pay by BACS. end result treasurer happy, GSL happy and Executive happy.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt

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    Quote Originally Posted by Taeniura View Post
    My wife's group use OSM and Go Cardless. Getting subs in at one time was a nightmare. Leaders said it was not their job to chase parents for money or they did not like asking for money. they are now two years down the OSM Go Cardless route and have a 100% success rate Not all want to pay by standing order and there is the odd one who pays by cash and two who pay by BACS. end result treasurer happy, GSL happy and Executive happy.
    I've kind of said the same thing, I don't want to be chasing parents for subs, I'll send an email from the Scout account, but I'm not cornering them when they pick their kid up.

    We're also hoping to move onto OSM, we need an online account set up first.

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    Quote Originally Posted by marcush View Post
    Be aware subs are classed as donations, so be very careful in chasing back payments. Your best bet is to put a policy in from now and write off anything previously.
    They aren't. Gift Aid allows claims on membership fees in certain circumstances - that's different.

    Sent from my ONEPLUS A6013 using Tapatalk

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    Thanks everyone.

    Yes regarding back payments I wasn't going to infer anything, if the parents feel guilty and offer to pay back to April last year or whatever suits them I will be happy to take their money, but if I can get them paying form now I'm happy with that, you're right we've run the group this long without any issues and it is our fault that we haven't been collecting them properly.

    Leaders shouldn't have to chase subs, that can sit with us but I haven't had a treasurer for 3 years (we had two people offer early on and they both ran away when they saw the mess it was in when I first took over) so it's taken time to get to this audit. Sounds like OSM is going to be the best bet for us, although their DD system leaves a lot to be desired when you have a lot of sections. We do already have OSM set up for subs, but I'm not close enough to it to understand it fully. As a parent I have to authorise the DD every month to pay the subs, which seems really odd, I don't think it's set up right so it's on my list to review , then I'll move them all to OSM. I'll have another chat with the GSL and GC and OSM direct.

    I completely agree that no one who cannot pay should be excluded and that was on my radar for this, thanks for the wording of the footnote.

    I've just done the first 70 members and found about 35 not paying, so I'm about to start drafting my letter and give everyone a nudge about gift aid forms too, OSM does that bit well.

    I'll be back soon with more questions no doubt.

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    Note that with Gift Aid (unless it's changed recently) you need a physical signature so just doing it via OSM's records isn't adequate.

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