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Records Retention

Sheila Keller, Marketing Strategist

How Long Do I have to Keep Confidential Documents in my Religious Organization?

Religious entities typically run like a well-oiled machine – with their thoughtfully crafted sermons, manicured newsletters, and perfectly planned events. What you may not realize is, these organizations are still businesses that have confidential and sensitive information floating around, mountains of paperwork, and administrative challenges.

Too much information floating around on paper can be a hassle if it’s not properly organized. Everything has to be accounted for when it comes time to filing tax forms. Those receipts, paperwork for exemptions, and applications for funding must be easy to recall and show at a moment’s notice. There are a lot of regulations when it comes to appropriately handling tithings as well. Every dollar must be accounted for and business transactions = lots of paperwork. In addition, specialty services such as weddings, funerals, baptisms, etc. add to the administrative load.

Often times, churches abide by their own Records Management Policy, which governs the definition of what is included as a church record, who owns that record, how a record can be obtained, the standards, compliance, exclusions, and assistance.

The different types of records that are usually held by churches varies. Click here for a general schedule for record retention and destruction.

Because religious entities are heavily regulated due to the transfer of money from parishioner to church, confidential information must be easily recalled at any given time. Retrieving paper-based information takes time. Time is money. With churches feeling the burden of lower attendance rates due to the pandemic, every dollar is precious. Being able to recall this information at the click of a mouse would save thousands of dollars in the long run. In addition, safely destructing the confidential information that is floating around the administrative offices is critical to staying compliant.