Although the president is the “buck stops here” officer, with all the responsibility that entails, the Shul Treasurer probably puts in the most total hours. In fact in our Shul, we have three, going on four, Treasurers – one for Tzedakah, one for our Gan, one for expenses and one for member’s receivables. In bigger Shuls, some of those functions would be handled by a Shul employee, but in smaller Shuls (~less than 250 member), the budget, or a sense of idealism keeps the bookkeeping in the hands of volunteers.
Of all the functions, member’s receivables, with it’s entry of charges, payment processing and billing of members is most tricky. It’s impossible to get it 100% correct and when mistakes get made members get upset.
For the entry of charges, the Treasurer must coordinate with the membership committee for any special membership fee deals, with the dinner committee for the dinner pledges, with the seating committee for the Yomim Noraim obligations, with the Gabbaim for any misheberachs made, with the building committee for building pledges. In fact for any charge entered, there is a person with whom to contact. A good Shul Membership System makes this easier, but much coordination and care must be taken to minimize mistakes.
Applying the payments is also a challenge because it’s often not clear to which charges the payment is to be applied. The Treasurer sometimes has to make a best guess, and if the payment is misapplied it will inevitably create confusion when the bill is received.
The final challenge is billing. Gehinnom hath no fury like a member with an incorrect bill. Maybe it’s not that bad, but the negativity directed towards the Treasurer when then the bill is wrong inhibits many treasurers from billing regularly. And no bill means no payment, which hurts cash flow and is more likely to lead to uncollected debt if the member moves on. Ideally monthly billing is appropriate, but a Treasurer who gets out four bills a year is usually considered doing a good job.
For the Treasurer the consolation of this difficulty is that there are many Kaporah moments and the mesiras nefesh builds a better Jew. For the membership, perhaps it would be healthy to cut the Treasurer some slack. He’s doing a tough job to help your Shul pay the bills.