Storing Documents

Whether your organization is incorporated, a non-profit or a charity, it is important to have a record keeping system.  Good record keeping helps an organization to operate efficiently.  To meet government and legal obligations, it is important to keep governing documents, financial documents and minutes of board meetings in good order.

  • Generally, organizations must keep all required records and supporting documents (including emails) for a period of six years from the end of the last tax year they relate to.
  • The tax year is the fiscal period for corporations and the calandar year for non-incorporated organizations.
  • When a non-incorporated business or other organization ends, its records must be kept for six years from the end of the tax year in which it ceased to exist.
  • When a corporation or charity is dissolved, records must be kept for two years after the date of dissolution.
  • Canada Revenue Agency regulations require some records to be kept as long as the organization is in existance and for a minimum of two years after the date, the organization is dissolved.
  • Email related to the organization's business is to be kept the time frame outlined in the record retention and destruction policy.
  • Records must be capable of verifying all charitable donations and reflect all activities of the organizaion.
  • Records must be in one of Canada's official languages - English or French.
  • Records must be stored at a Canadian address that is on file with Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA).

Documents to Keep

  • Governing Documents - include constitution, bylaws, policies and procedures, minutes, incorporation documents, etc.
  • Financial Documents - include ledgers, financial statements, bank statements, reconciliation statements, audit documents, payroll, etc.
  • Organization Documents - include personnel, insurance and property documents, contracts, records of organizational activity, etc.

Record Retention and Destruction Policy

A record retention and destruction policy takes into account the organizations needs and legal obligations. Your policy should list:

  • the type of records to be kept
  • the length of time required to retain records
  • where and how documents are to be stored
  • who is responsible for supervising compliance with the policy
  • who will be in charge of record retention, organization and destruction
  • where back up copies are to be kept
  • who will update and audit the policy according to federal and provincial laws
  • what to do if litigation occurs
  • acceptable methods of destruction of records (shred paper documents, erase or destroy electronic files, etc.)

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