How long do I have to keep financial records? Do I need to print out this membership database? What are the most important documents my church needs to keep? Are we allowed to throw away the Christian Ed curriculum from 1962?
If these questions sound familiar and you are the one who has to figure these things out for your congregation, you are not alone. The Congregational Library has created a set of guidelines that will help you make these decisions and help facilitate a better organized set of records.
The following link is a PDF (Portable Document Format) that can be opened by using Adobe Acrobat Reader, a free software dedicated to accessing this kind of file. The link listed here is for all Adobe products. Scan down the list for the most recent Reader. Be prepared to update this software every so often.
Records Management for Local Churches (PDF format)
Additionally, we have some templates which can be used to create your own records management policy and retention schedule. Please alter these to suit your congregation's needs. These are also free to share.
Records Management Retention Schedule Template (Microsoft Word document)
Records Management Policy Template (Microsoft Word document)
COSTEP MA has put together a checklist for cultural institutions to aid in disaster planning. Between natural disasters and mechanical malfunctions, it's a good idea to know what is in your institution's records, which are most important to save in an emergency, and what should be done afterward.
Cultural Resources Inventory Form (PDF format)