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Record Retention

Christopher Gauger, EAA 746128, EAA Chapter Field Representative I


June 2023 – One of the most important actions that EAA chapters can take to ensure their success is to retain their records. This is hopefully common sense for anyone who seeks to grow and sustain their chapter year after year, and who wants their chapter to function smoothly and without any embarrassing interruptions.

There are many reasons to retain your chapter’s records. For starters, it makes things easier for new chapter officers when they step into their roles. New officers will get a clear picture of the state of the chapter and will be able to reference the chapter’s records when needed. Retaining your bylaws, for example, can help you resolve disputes within the chapter. Retaining your financial records will help you conduct an accurate audit of your chapter’s finances. Retaining the login information for your chapter’s EAA-provided website will prevent you from having to contact the EAA Chapters Office because you forgot how to sign in.

Your chapter should maintain a permanent file of important documents and information. Ideally, your file should include the following chapter records:

  • Articles of incorporation
  • Bylaws
  • Tax information, such as your Federal Employer Identification Number and 501(c)(3) records
  • Historical officer names and their positions
  • Website and social media login information, such as usernames and passwords

Financial records from the previous six years can be retained, such as receipts and bank statements. For more information on financial management and recordkeeping, check out the article Running a Chapter Like a Small Business.

You can use a three-ring binder with folders to organize your chapter’s permanent records, such as the example pictured in this article. If your chapter has been in existence for many years or decades, then you might need multiple binders to store all your records. You should also consider buying a fireproof box to store your permanent records and protect them from harm. The permanent file should be stored at the chapter’s facility. If your chapter does not have its own facility, then your secretary can hold onto the file, since maintaining the permanent file is one of the chapter secretary’s duties. However, make sure that if you get a new chapter secretary that the former secretary transfers the permanent file to their replacement.

We highly recommend backing up your chapter records digitally. You can scan your records and save them to a flash drive or SD card. Even better, you can upload the scanned records to a cloud-based service. If your chapter uses Gmail for its email account, then you can use Google Drive for free to store your digital records. Likewise, chapters that use the Microsoft Office suite can back up their records to OneDrive. You can use document software such as Microsoft Excel and Word, or their free Google equivalents to list your current and previous chapter officers, as well as keeping lists of the login information (email addresses, usernames, password) used for your chapter’s website, social media profiles, bank account, and other websites.

The biggest advantage to backing up your chapter records to online storage is that you will not permanently lose any records if the physical copies are lost or destroyed. You also do not have to worry about keeping your physical records at your chapter’s facility or at the home of one of your officers. Storing your chapter records online also makes it easier to share access to new officers. Your principal chapter officers — president, vice president, secretary, treasurer — should have access to your chapter’s online records, whether you use Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive or some other service.

By retaining your records, your chapter will be able to preserve its history and function smoothly. You won’t have to worry about being caught flatfooted if you need to resolve a chapter dispute or audit your finances, or if you are preparing a new chapter officer for their role. Whether you store your records in a physical location or online, make sure they are secure and will not be easily lost.

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