Non-profits and businesses play significant roles in the community.
For organizations to run properly, however, important work must be completed behind the scenes.
Sheyna Burt from the Law Office of Sheyna Nicole Burt, PLC in Manassas spoke about document retention and the need to create a system on Thursday.
Burt discussed the topic at the Prince William Chamber of Commerce’s Not-For-Profit Council meeting, which occurred in Manassas.
She encouraged her listeners to get organized sooner rather than later.
“If you don’t have a system in place to track those things, then what can happen is — as you are dealing with litigation — you will find yourself behind the 8-ball … compromising your own position, because you didn’t take care of having an organized system in place,” Burt said.
Keeping records in a poor or inconsistent way can impact an organization’s health.
“Remember that this is a business,” Burt said. “How are you supposed to negotiate favorable contract terms if nobody can remember what the contract said?”
Burt also talked about laws.
Organization leaders are responsible for learning about which documents — based on their industry — should be kept and destroyed.
Corporations in Virginia must maintain permanent records of minutes of board and member meetings.
“If you are doing organizational business, there should be meeting minutes and you should be keeping them,” Burt said.
Not-For-Profit Council meeting attendees also learned about creating a document retention plan.
Being organized, according to Burt, is a part of risk management.
If you can track your documents, you can track what’s being superseded,” Burt said. “That is you taking control … in a way that’s going to be important to your ability to mitigate your risk of loss — your risk of being sued.”
Document retention doesn’t only refer to a piece of paper. It’s also about the people and processes involved.
“Who’s going to touch these documents? Who’s not allowed to touch them? Who’s in charge of organizing them?” Burt said. “What system are you using? Are you sending old documents to a company? … So, whatever those process are, you need to address that in advance.”
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