How long do you need to keep records?
Looking for U.S.-specific guidance? Read our simple guide for U.S. nonprofits.
Charities are legally required to retain specific documents and records for a certain period of time. Other factors also come into play, including costs of storage and filing, your organization's need for continued access to particular documents and the historical value of certain documents.
When you no longer need a document, you'll need to erase, shred or otherwise destroy it so that any confidential information can't be read or reconstructed. Appropriate destruction is particularly important for personal data — U.K. protection laws allow storage of personal data for no longer than needed. Unnecessary storage beyond the required time period also implies storage costs for your organization.
The overview attached below, provided courtesy of Buzzacott Chartered Accountants, lists suggested retention periods for the documents most commonly held by charities, and gives a brief explanation of the period given. It includes documents under the following categories:
- Purchase invoices and supplier documentation
- Income/monies received
- Tax records
- Payroll documentation
- Employee/personnel records
- Resident/care records
- Buildings, plant and engineering records
- Pension records
- Insurance documents
- Other documents
The information provided is current as of April 2017. It isn't a comprehensive statement of law or current practice. Professional advice should be taken to consider your organization's specific circumstances.