Sample Document Retention and Destruction Policy

The document retention and destruction policy of the …<XYZ Nonprofit…> identifies the record retention responsibilities of staff, volunteers, members of the Board of Directors, and outsiders for maintaining and documenting the storage and destruction of the organization's documents and records.

1. Rules

The organization's staff, volunteers, members of the Board of Directors, and outsiders (i.e., independent contractors via agreements with them) are required to honor these rules:

  • Paper or electronic documents indicated under the terms for retention below will be transferred and maintained by the legal or administrative staff or their equivalents.

  • All other paper documents will be destroyed after three years.

  • All other electronic documents will be deleted from all individual computers, databases, networks, and backup storage after one year.

  • No paper or electronic documents will be destroyed or deleted if pertinent to any ongoing or anticipated government investigation or proceeding or private litigation.

  • 2. Terms for Retention

    Retain Permanently

  • Governance records: Charter and amendments, by-laws, other organization documents, governing board and board committee minutes.

  • Tax records: filed federal tax returns/reports and supporting records, tax-exemption determination letter and related correspondence, files related to tax audits.

  • Intellectual property records: copyright and trademark registrations and samples of protected works.

  • Financial records: audited financial statements, attorney contingent liability letters.

  • Retain for Ten Years

  • Pension and benefit records: Pension (ERISA) plan participant/beneficiary records, actuarial reports, related correspondence with government agencies, and supporting records.

  • Government relations records: state and federal lobbying and political contribution reports and supporting records.

  • Retain for Three Years

  • Employee/employment records: Employee names, addresses, social security numbers, dates of birth, resume/application materials, job descriptions, dates of hire and termination/separation, evaluations, compensation information, promotions, transfers, disciplinary matters, time/payroll records, leave/comp time, engagement and discharge correspondence, documentation of basis for independent contractor status.

  • Lease, insurance, and contract/license records: software license agreements, vendor, hotel and service agreements, independent contractor agreements, employment agreements, consultant agreements, and all other agreements.

  • Retain for One Year

  • All other electronic records, documents, and files.

  • 3. Exceptions

    Exceptions to these rules and terms for retention may be granted only by the organization's chief staff executive or the President of the Board.


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