Basic record keeping tips for nonprofit organizations
We understand that many of the staffs of nonprofit organizations in Wyoming do not have the time necessary to learn the ins and outs of the preferred methods of storing, handling, and keeping their records. With that in mind, we would like to offer a few tips to get you headed in the right direction. We have included some links to additional detailed information if you would like to learn more.
Preserving your records
Every organization has records that it should keep to document its history. Meeting minutes, photographs taken at events, and articles in newspapers and magazines just to name a few. There are certain things you can do to help prolong the life of your records. We have listed some here.
- Store your records in a controlled environment whenever possible. Wide ranges of temperature and humidity are bad for all kinds of records.
- Keep your records off the floor. Water has a way of finding them there.
- Scan or photocopy news clippings you intend to keep for a long time. Newspapers deteriorate quickly.
- Handle photographs and negatives with care, touching only the edges when possible.
- Do not glue photographs into scrapbooks and be wary of commercially available photo albums. Store your photos using acid-free materials whenever possible.
- Any time you replace a computer or upgrade your software, open and save your computer files (PDF-A is the current recommended format for long term preservation)
- Create backup copies of your electronic records. If a server is not available to you, consider purchasing an external hard drive to use to store copies of your electronic records. If possible store the external hard drive away from your computer.
- Consider donating your records to an archives, let them do the preservation work for you.
To learn more about preservation:
Northeast Document Conservation Center Preservation Leaflets
Library of Congress
So you have a box of papers...
Managing your records
Records management simply means deciding what to keep and how long to keep it. No organization has the space to keep everything and here are some guidelines to help make the decision about what to keep and not to keep easier.
Consider discarding these:
- Constitution, bylaws, articles of incorporation
- Photographs of events
- Meeting minutes
- Annual reports
- Media publicity
- Financial Reports/Audits
To learn more about records management:
An introduction to records scheduling and management for non-profit organizations
- Duplicate copies
- Superseded blank forms
- Things not related to your organization (supply catalogs, for instance)
This is between you and the IRS, but here is a link you may find useful in preparing your Form 990.
Tax information for Charities & Other Non-Profits
For more information...
Feel free to contact us if you would like more information. If we do not know the answer, we probably know someone who does. We would be happy to hear from you.
Wyoming State Archives
2301 Central Avenue
Cheyenne, WY 82002
Phone: (307) 777-7826