Keeping Good Records: Small Foundations' Guide to Staying Organized by Elaine Gast - Read Online
Keeping Good Records
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Discover how to organize, archive, and protect your important documents. Includes: The costs of recordkeeping — in money and time; What to keep and for how long; Advice on establishing a records management system and records retention policy; How recordkeeping can help you fulfill your mission and program; Audits; What records you must share with the public.

Published: Association of Small Foundations on
ISBN: 9781301546169
List price: $9.99
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Keeping Good Records - Elaine Gast

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I. Introduction

Perhaps you work in a small office or from a desk at your home, with little storage or cabinet space. Your foundation has few or no staff to organize your files, so you’ve formed your own loose system of recordkeeping—collecting piles of paper stacked around your room.

One day, your board chair calls and requests the minutes of a board meeting that was held two years ago. A local reporter e-mails you for a copy of last year’s 990-PF. Or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sends you a notice stating that this is your lucky year for an audit. Suddenly the papers go flying, and you (and your foundation) are in the middle of one big mess.

If you haven't yet established a system for keeping good records, now is the time. This ASF Primer explains what documents to keep and for how long, and then describes how to organize your documents by creating a records management system. A system consists of the following tasks:

Sorting your documents into categories;

Organizing documents and setting up files so you can retrieve documents easily;

Purging inactive documents regularly, to keep your files clean and compact;

Archiving documents regularly that you no longer use but wish to keep for historical purposes; and

Protecting your records.

It takes a little time to set up and maintain a records management system, but once you have it going, you will be efficient and organized. You’ll have the documents you need at your fingertips (and you won’t trip on all those stacks of papers!). You’ll find it easier to fulfill legal requirements and track progress toward your mission over the years. And—you’ll save lots of time!

A Note about Recordkeeping and the Law

Foundation recordkeeping is guided as much by best practices as by laws. The laws specify very