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Improving records management in charities – a new toolkit

What records do charities need to keep? How long should they be retained? What legislation and regulations on record keeping do charities need to comply with?

I’m very pleased to announce that our new toolkit to help charities and voluntary organisations improve records management will be launched on 15 June 2017 at the British Academy. It is with some relief that we have just sent the final text off to the designers.

Record keeping is an important but often overlooked part of running or working in a voluntary organisation. It is vital for good governance and necessary for complying with the wide range of regulations that apply to voluntary organisations in England and Wales. However, many organisations find it hard to know quite what the state of their records is and what do to with them. There is a lack of advice, training and knowledge about record keeping and a bewildering array of different regulatory requirements.

This new toolkit was researched and written by the Front coverproject’s Research Associate Charlotte Clements in partnership with colleagues at Charity Finance Group.  Charlotte has done an amazing job in navigating the complex worlds of records management and charity law to create an accessible, readable toolkit that should be of real value to anyone with responsibility for a charity’s records. Charlotte tested and refined the toolkit in a series of focus groups organised with Charity Finance Group, and over 50 people have given feedback and comments.

The toolkit takes the form of self-assessment tools and guidance to implement an improvement plan. Far from assuming that a perfect system for managing records and information can be implemented straight away, the toolkit recognises that continuous improvement of an organisation’s practices, policies and processes will be needed.

We were very pleased to win a UCL Public Policy Engagement Grant last year to fund this work, which is an off-shoot of our on-going work around voluntary sector archives. The new toolkit complements the draft guidance on archiving for voluntary organisations which we are currently also developing.

Records Management in Charities: A Toolkit for Improvement takes the form of self-assessment tools and set of guidance to implement an improvement plan. It does not assume that a perfect system for managing records and information can be implemented straight away. Instead, it offers tools and guidance to help continuous improvement of an organisation’s practices, policies and processes. In due course we will make the toolkit available to complete online.

If this sounds of interest and you would like a free print copy, we still have a few places remaining to attend our launch event at the British Academy next week (15 June 2017, 4-6pm). The event features a keynote address from Bruno Longmore of National Records Scotland on what Scotland can teach us. You can ask questions from our expert panel on voluntary sector records management and this will be followed by a drinks reception. You can now find a pdf of the toolkit on our resources pages and we will be publishing it as interactive web pages later this summer.

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