Guidelines for Maintaining Your Gift Documentation Records

Guidelines for Maintaining Your Gift Documentation Records
Guidelines for Maintaining Your Gift Documentation Records

Advancement

Managing your school’s records, especially gift documentation, is extremely important. Gift documentation records are legal and evidentiary backup for the actual gifts. For accounting reasons, they must be kept permanently.

We’re sharing our advice for ensuring these vital documents are kept and organized properly.

Paper Records

What Materials to Keep

  • Keep paper files for donors who have made—or you believe will make—a gift.
  • Create a paper file for each donor. This can be either after they have given their first gift or when documentation concerning their status as a prospect is created.
  • Permanently retain all written records pertaining to a gift in a paper file. This includes:
    • letters pertaining to the gift
    • pledge cards
    • the envelope the gift came in—the postmark is a reference
    • copy of the acknowledgement sent to the donor
    • any government documents that many have accompanied the gift

Storage Guidelines

What records to keep
  • Records of parents, past parents, grandparents, alumni, faculty and staff, either present and past and whether or not they have given a gift, are kept permanently in the database.
  • Records of past grandparents and friends who never made a gift to the school can be purged.
  • Records of past parents who left the school on less-than-good terms can be purged if a gift was not made.
Where to keep records
  • Paper records are to be stored in the Development Office for five years after the last activity.
  • Files can be moved to permanent storage after the five-year period if the donor is a past parent, grandparent, friend, teacher, or staff member.
  • Paper files pertaining to gifts from current parents and grandparents stay in the Development Office until their children leave the school.
  • Alumni donor files should be kept in the Development Office permanently. If this is not practical—schools with very large alumni programs may have issues—keep only the active files in the office. Active means donors who have given gifts within the past five years.

Scanning Guidelines

  • If you’re not able to keep all paper records, scan your paper files to store them electronically. You can then shred the paper copies.
  • Make sure you scan the paper; don't just enter the information into a database. The scan is an electronic picture of the actual document. When information is keyed in, there is no way to verify that it is accurate—unless you have the paper!

Electronic Files

What Records to Keep

  • Records of parents, past parents, grandparents, alumni, faculty and staff, present and past, whether or not they have given a gift, are kept permanently in the database.
  • Records of past grandparents and friends who never made a gift to the school can be purged.
  • Records of past parents who left the school on less-than-good terms can be purged if a gift was not made.

We hope these guidelines help you maintain your records with ease and confidence.

 

Build and Grow a Robust Annual Fund

Additional ISM Resources:
The Source for Advancement Vol. 17 No. 8 Do Not Accept Philanthropic Gifts From Applicant Parents
The Source for Advancement Vol. 17 No. 6 Answering a Question About In-Kind Gifts

Additional ISM resources for members:
I&P Vol. 38 No. 6 Developing a Gift Acceptance Policy Manual

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