1. Policy and Purposes

This Policy represents the policy of Mission: Hope with respect to the retention and destruction of documents and other records, both in hard copy and electronic media (which may merely be referred to as “documents” in this Policy). Purposes of the Policy include (a) retention and maintenance of documents necessary for the proper functioning of the organization as well as to comply with applicable legal requirements; (b) destruction of documents which no longer need to be retained; and (c) guidance for the Board of Directors, officers, staff and other constituencies with respect to their responsibilities concerning document retention and destruction. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the organization reserves the right to revise or revoke this Policy at any time.

2. Administration

2.1 Responsibilities of the Administrator. 

Mission: Hope Operations Director shall be the administrator (“Administrator”) in charge of the administration of this Policy. The Administrator’s responsibilities shall include supervising and coordinating the retention and destruction of documents pursuant to this Policy and particularly the Document Retention Schedule included below. The Administrator shall also be responsible for documenting the actions taken to maintain and/or destroy organization documents and retaining such documentation. The Administrator may also modify the Document Retention Schedule from time to time as necessary to comply with law and/or to include additional or revised document categories as may be appropriate to reflect organizational policies and procedures. The Administrator is also authorized to periodically review this Policy and Policy compliance with legal counsel and to report to the Board of Directors as to compliance. The Administrator may also appoint one or more assistants to assist in carrying out the Administrator’s responsibilities, with the Administrator, however, retaining ultimate responsibility for administration of this Policy. 

2.2 Responsibilities of Constituencies. 

This Policy also relates to the responsibilities of board members, staff, volunteers and outsiders with respect to maintaining and documenting the storage and destruction of the organization’s documents. The Administrator shall report to the Board of Directors (the board members acting as a body), which maintains the ultimate direction of management. The organization’s staff shall be familiar with this Policy, shall act in accordance therewith, and shall assist the Administrator, as requested, in implementing it. The responsibility of volunteers with respect to this Policy shall be to produce specifically identified documents upon request of management, if the volunteer still retains such documents. In that regard, after each project in which a volunteer has been involved, or each term which the volunteer has served, it shall be the responsibility of the Administrator to confirm whatever types of documents the volunteer retained and to request any such documents which the Administrator feels will be necessary for retention by the organization (not by the volunteer).  Outsiders may include vendors or other service providers. Depending upon the sensitivity of the documents involved with the outsider relationship, the organization, through the Administrator, shall share this Policy with the outsider, requesting compliance. In particular instances, the Administrator may require that the contract with the outsider specify the particular responsibilities of the outsider with respect to this Policy.

3.  Suspension of Document Destruction; Compliance 

The organization becomes subject to a duty to preserve (or halt the destruction of) documents once litigation, an audit or a government investigation is reasonably anticipated. Further, federal law imposes criminal liability (with fines and/or imprisonment for not more than 20 years) upon whomever “knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States …  or in relation to or contemplation of any such matter or case.” Therefore, if the Administrator becomes aware that litigation, a governmental audit or a government investigation has been instituted, or is reasonably anticipated or contemplated, the Administrator shall immediately order a halt to all document destruction under this Policy, communicating the order to all affected constituencies in writing. The Administrator may thereafter amend or rescind the order only after conferring with legal counsel. If any board member or staff member becomes aware that litigation, a governmental audit or a government investigation has been instituted, or is reasonably anticipated or contemplated, with respect to the organization, and they are not sure whether the Administrator is aware of it, they shall make the Administrator aware of it. Failure to comply with this Policy, including, particularly, disobeying any destruction halt order, could result in possible civil or criminal sanctions.  In addition, for staff, it could lead to disciplinary action including possible termination.  

4. Electronic Documents; Document Integrity 

Documents in electronic format shall be maintained just as hard copy or paper documents are, in accordance with the Document Retention Schedule. Due to the fact that the integrity of electronic documents, whether with respect to the ease of alteration or deletion, or otherwise, may come into question, the Administrator shall attempt to establish standards for document integrity, including guidelines for handling electronic files, backup procedures, archiving of documents, and regular checkups of the reliability of the system; provided, that such standards shall only be implemented to the extent that they are reasonably attainable considering the resources and other priorities of the organization.

5. Privacy 

It shall be the responsibility of the Administrator, after consultation with counsel, to determine how privacy laws will apply to the organization’s documents from and with respect to employees and other constituencies; to establish reasonable procedures for compliance with such privacy laws; and to allow for their audit and review on a regular basis.

6. Emergency Planning 

Documents shall be stored in a safe and accessible manner. Documents which are necessary for the continued operation of the organization in the case of an emergency shall be regularly duplicated or backed up and maintained in an off-site location. The Administrator shall develop reasonable procedures for document retention in the case of an emergency.

7. Document Creation and Generation 

The Administrator shall discuss with staff the ways in which documents are created or generated. With respect to each employee or organizational function, the Administrator shall attempt to determine whether documents are created which can be easily segregated from others, so that, when it comes time to destroy (or retain) those documents, they can be easily culled from the others for disposition. For example, on an employee-by-employee basis, are emails and other documents of a significantly non-sensitive nature so that they might be deleted, even in the face of a litigation hold with respect to other, more sensitive, documents?  This dialogue may help in achieving a major purpose of the Policy -- to conserve resources -- by identifying document streams in a way that will allow the Policy to routinely provide for destruction of documents. Ideally, the organization will create and archive documents in a way that can readily identify and destroy documents with similar expirations.

8. Document Retention Schedule 

Accounting and Finance

Accounts Payable - 7 years

Accounts Receivable - 7 years

Annual Financial Statements and Audit Reports - Permanent

Bank Statements, Reconciliations & Deposit Slips - 7 years

Canceled Checks – routine - 7 years

Canceled Checks – special, such as loan repayment - Permanent

Credit Card Receipts - 3 years

Employee/Business Expense Reports/Documents - 7 years

General Ledger - Permanent

Interim Financial Statements - 7 years


Contribution Records - Permanent

Documents Evidencing Terms of Gifts - Permanent

Grant Records -  7 years after end of grant period=

Corporate and Exemption

Articles of Incorporation and Amendments - Permanent

Bylaws and Amendments - Permanent

Minute Books, including Board & Committee Minutes - Permanent

Annual Reports to Attorney General & Secretary of State - Permanent

Other Corporate Filings - Permanent

IRS Exemption Application (Form 1023 or 1024)- Permanent

IRS Exemption Determination Letter - Permanent

State Exemption Application (if applicable)- Permanent

State Exemption Determination Letter (if applicable)- Permanent

Licenses and Permits - Permanent

Employer Identification (EIN) Designation - Permanent

Correspondence and Internal Memoranda

Hard copy correspondence and internal memoranda relating to a particular document otherwise addressed in this Schedule should be retained for the same period as the document to which they relate.

Hard copy correspondence and internal memoranda relating to routine matters with no lasting significance - Two years

Email to or from the organization

Emails relating to a particular document otherwise addressed in this Schedule should be retained for the same period as the document to which they relate but may be retained in hard copy form with the document to which they relate.

Emails considered important to the organization or of lasting significance. -  Permanent, subject to review

Emails not included in either of the above categories - 12 months

Electronically Stored Documents

Electronically stored documents (e.g., in pdf, text or other electronic format) comprising or relating to a particular document otherwise addressed in this Schedule should be retained for the same period as the document which they comprise or to which they relate but may be retained in hard copy form (unless the electronic aspect is of significance).

Electronically stored documents considered important to the organization or of lasting significance should be printed and stored in a central repository (unless the electronic aspect is of significance). - Permanent, subject to review

Electronically stored documents not included in either of the above categories -  Two years

Employment, Personnel and Pension

Personnel Records - 10 yrs after employment ends

Employee contracts -  10 yrs after termination

Retirement and pension records - Permanent


Property, D&O, Workers’ Compensation and General Liability Insurance Policies -Permanent

Insurance Claims Records - Permanent

Legal and Contracts

Contracts, related correspondence and other supporting documentation - 10 years after termination

Legal correspondence - Permanent

Management and Miscellaneous

Strategic Plans - 7 years after expiration

Disaster Recovery Plan - 7 years after replacement

Policies and Procedures Manual - Current version with revision

Property – Real, Personal and Intellectual

Property deeds and purchase/sale agreements - Permanent

Property Tax - Permanent

Real Property Leases - Permanent

Personal Property Leases - 10 years after termination

Trademarks, Copyrights and Patents - Permanent


Tax exemption documents & corespondance - Permanent

IRS Rulings - Permanent

Annual information returns – federal & state - Permanent

Tax returns - Permanent


Last Updated: April 2018