Tips for CHC Success

Each chapter and facility is unique. Achieving a positive housing experience while honoring that uniqueness is important. Managing a Pi Phi facility is a huge job that requires a Chapter House Corporation (CHC) to attend to ever-evolving best practices. The best practices we’ve compiled below and more are captured in the Chapter House Corporation Manual available in the Resource Library.

All members of a CHC are volunteers who have busy lives outside of their Pi Phi property management roles. A strong CHC is in constant recruitment mode looking for Pi Phis with skills, interest and ability to help manage commercial properties. Most states require a minimum of three board members to comprise a CHC. However, boards owning and operating residential housing will likely need a larger board than those dealing with a lodge or suite. Pi Phi policy outlines requirements for the make-up of CHC boards, which can be found in Section 1 of the CHC Manual on the Resource Library.

CHCs are incorporated as separate legal entities within the state or province where the chapter is located. Often, bylaws must be submitted annually to maintain the corporation. Board members should review CHC bylaws on an ongoing basis and revise as needed, seeking legal counsel for assistance in major revisions to make sure the bylaws abide by all federal, state and local corporate laws. Before adopting new bylaws, the CHC must submit changes to FHC for review. A copy of sample bylaws and articles of incorporation templates can be found in the Resource Library.

The CHC Annual Report is due to FHC each year by February 1. For CHCs owning property, the CHC Facility Report is due to FHC each year on November 1. Both reports are submitted through eReports and help Pi Beta Phi support housing goals.

Any time there is a change in leadership on CHC, the CHC's roster should be updated in eReports to ensure officers are getting up-to-date communication from Headquarters. CHCs should ensure all contact information for individual members is up to date, checking at least twice a year.

The unexpected will likely occur at some point. It is recommended that every CHC develop a long-range plan of anticipated work that will need to be done during the next five to 10 years and update it annually. A long-range planning worksheet is available in the Resource Library to help. For CHCs owning property, it is strongly recommended that a property assessment is performed every five years. The assessment will identify potential problems that could result in insurance losses, help the CHC plan for capital expenditures and control insurance costs for all Pi Beta Phi chapters. FHC recommends CSL Management as the preferred vendor for these assessments.

All U.S. CHCs qualify as Section 501(c)(7) organizations by the Internal Revenue Code, allowing the corporation to accumulate funds for future anticipated expenses and to use the set-aside provision to shelter unrelated business income and non-member income. Due to the complexity of the IRS 501(c)(7) regulations, FHC has created tax return templates to help guide your CHC, and/or assist your tax advisor, in the preparation of the Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-T, and supporting schedules. These tax return templates can be found in the Resource Library.

Maintaining open communication at all times among the chapter, AAC and CHC is essential. Regular meetings help ensure all teams are aligned. For all chapters, an Annual Chapter/CHC Agreement helps outline important responsibilities such as amount of the rent the chapter will pay the CHC, the amount of the house fund fees and opening and closing dates for the chapter facility. Agreements should be reviewed and signed each year. Several sample agreements are available in the Resource Library.

Rent helps the CHC keep the chapter facility competitive with other campus housing options. Rent should be adequate to meet CHC expenses, including salaries and benefits for CHC employees, and allow an annual reserve to be maintained for repairs and capital purchases. FHC recommends a 3%–5% rent increase each year to prevent a significant jump in any year. Even when there are no facilities, “rent” should be collected to cover CHC expenses and maintain a reserve for unexpected expenses.

Managing a chapter facility is a unique volunteer experience and requires unique volunteer skills. The decisions made by the CHC can have tremendous impact on the sustainability of the chapter, so continually working to refine related skills is important for all members of the CHC. Any time there is a change in CHC leadership, new volunteers are expected to complete CHC volunteer onboarding with an FHC staff member.

The needs of today's college students change very quickly. What seniors expected when they were freshmen may be completely different from what current freshmen need. At Fraternity events like convention, FHC helps keep CHCs up to date on today’s college students' needs and what their families expect from the collegiate residential experience. CHC members should plan to attend educational programs offered by FHC.

Pi Beta Phi facility decisions must always be influenced by what is happening in the local campus community. Current housing options, such as other National Panhellenic Conference organization facilities, campus residence halls and near-campus apartments, can be good points of reference to ensure Pi Phi’s facilities are competitive. In addition to residential facilities, university long-range plans related to campus goals and initiatives can present insights helpful to CHC planning.

Housing matters to Pi Beta Phi, and the Fraternity has invested considerable resources into ensuring CHCs have access to the tools they need to be successful. The most valuable of these resources are the people who can support and advise the CHC. Strong CHCs are in regular conversation with Pi Beta Phi’s FHC professionals at Headquarters.

Your Partner for housing resources

FHC is dedicated to helping Pi Phi chapters achieve a positive housing experience while honoring each chapter’s unique needs and respecting the commitment of local volunteers. 

We are here to partner with you, and we strive to keep your passion, commitment and dedication to Pi Phi at the forefront of our work. Together, we will help to sustain the housing experience for current and future members.

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Pi Phi By the Numbers

More than 150 years ago, 12 courageous young women at Monmouth College came together to form a new organization grounded in the values of Integrity, Lifelong Commitment, Honor & Respect, Personal & Intellectual Growth, Philanthropic Service to Others and Sincere Friendship. Learn more about Pi Beta Phi with some fast facts about our sisterhood.

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