Digital technology makes it so easy to create and store files. Over time, you can easily amass thousands of files (I have 26,443 on my laptop and counting). We don’t need all those files, and the more there are the harder it becomes to find the ones you do need. That’s where a document retention policy comes to the rescue.
There are files you want to keep. There are files you need to keep. The rest you can delete (or if they are on paper, shred and discard). A document retention policy tells you which are which and, for those you need to keep, how long you need to keep them. It’s also a policy that helps make sure you are in compliance with IRS regulations and keep your tax-exempt status.
If your nonprofit has not adopted a document retention policy yet, this is a good time to start the process. Familiarize yourself with the IRS regulations. Then, look at some samples and templates. Pick one that seems to best fit your organization and then customize. Finally, and most importantly, make sure everyone is familiar with the policy and follows it—including you!
Here are some good starting places: