Create a records retention policy based on applicable legal and administrative considerations.
Key factors to consider in developing a records retention policy:
- Establish a record retention strategy that clarifies how records will be categorized, stored, the retention period, and records disposal.
- The church council should review and approve the records retention policy.
- Your records retention policy should be reviewed by a local attorney, CPA and your insurance agent.
- Statutory requirements: Federal, state or local laws may govern the retention of certain documents.
Insurance policies: In some cases, allegations against churches can go back for many years. In these instances, insurance policies must be produced for the time of the incident.
Disposal of records:
- Some organizations maintain a “destruction of records journal.” When the period of time for keeping records has expired, the record is described in the journal before being destroyed.
- Do not destroy records that are involved in current legal or pending legal cases, including IRS investigations.
- Invest in a paper shredder to dispose of confidential records.
- Scan and store records electronically rather than as paper copies. This can reduce storage space needs and make retrieval easier.
- Consult with an attorney before implementing an electronic storage policy to ensure that your records comply with any required legal standards.
Reasons to keep church records include…
- Legal requirements
- Potential relevance in future litigation
- Needs of the organization
- Historical importance