It is becoming increasingly important for nonprofit organizations to have a policy describing how long to keep different kinds of documents. A key part of any policy is to describe how and when to place a hold on document destruction.
Here are a few samples you could use to develop a document retention and destruction policy for your organization. Because of the wide-ranging legal issues, variations by state, and circumstantial application, I’m not comfortable producing a sample policy.
I have found a few that you could use as a starting point. Here are some samples for your consideration.
AICPA - NPO audit committee toolkit
The policy is the second item in part two. Click on the link to open a word document. Here’s a direct link:
A few thoughts:
The sample is light on the explanation of who will perform the policy. Also the explanation of the need to place a hold on document destruction event of litigation is light. Those items need to be expanded for your policy.
Retention of expired contracts mortgages and leases would be for seven years after expiration.
I think the seven-year reference for personnel files of terminated employees would start at termination.
Evangelical Counsel for Financial Accountability (ECFA)
ECFA has several sample policies:
- Records Retention - general, for any parachurch organizations
- Records Retention for Churches – tailored more for churches
These are a superb starting point. The ECFA samples are a bit longer than some at seven pages, which means they are more detailed and cover more ground.
BoardSource has a large volume of sample policies available here.
One of the items is for sample policies for document retention and destruction. The cost is $9, so I have not read them. If you’re serious about developing a policy, it would be worth buying a set.
I did a quick search on the ‘net. There are lots of samples out there.
Document your policy
Make sure your policy is documented in writing. It would be a really good idea to get it reviewed by legal counsel. That would prevent tripping over some specific issue in your state or area of operation.
Also would be a great idea to get it approved by your governing board. That shows it was a considered organizational decision, not just something you just felt like doing on your own.
Finally, it would be wise to keep a log so you can document what you destroyed and when.