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The Ins and Outs of a Document Retention Policy

Youth sports organizations have evolved a lot over the last decade, and so has the way they’ve collected and stored the personal information of athletes, coaches, staff members, and volunteers.

Now that the world has gone digital and fewer clubs rely on printed documents, all organizations must take more impactful and calculated steps to keep private information safe online.

Briefly stated, it’s time to create and follow a Document Retention Policy.

What it is

A Document Retention Policy establishes how an organization will manage sensitive documents from when they’re collected to the time they’re deleted. The policy covers both physical and electronic documents. Examples include:

  • Birth certificates
  • Waivers
  • Contracts
  • Invoices and receipts
  • Emails
  • Agreements
  • Background checks

If not properly protected or destructed, all of the above documents create added risk for an organization—especially if they fall into the wrong hands.

A Document Retention Policy provides the framework and timeline for how an organization creates, receives, stores, reviews, and destroys documents with sensitive information.

Why you need it

Organizations need a Document Retention Policy for various reasons, including the need to limit liability and establish clear protocols for all staff members to follow.

In today’s digital age, hacks and cyberattacks are increasingly commonplace. Storing sensitive information for longer than needed in unsecure places can lead to trouble for both organizations and individuals. Investing in a technology platform that implements the latest data security technology and best practices is a wise investment.

Document Retention Policies also promote efficiency. Establishing clear rules to follow of where to store documents and who has access will make them easier to find.

How to create it

The process begins with some research into the types of documentation you collect and any local laws that may dictate how long you need to hold onto certain information. Reach out to local legal experts for guidance.

Here are the specific steps to take:

  1. Identify the types of documents your organization collects and creates
  2. Determine a length of time to keep them on file
  3. Designate where to store documents
  4. Determine how they will be deleted and by whom

It’s also a great idea to assign this task to a single person who will oversee and direct the entire creation process.

Complete the above steps, then compile and document your findings and decisions to create the policy. It can be as simple as a few paragraphs on your website or published on letterhead. Keep it easy to find, dated, and always on-hand.

How to implement it

Share your completed Document Retention Policy far and wide amongst your entire staff and organization.

Hold training sessions to walk through the policy and document storage process. Confirm every staff member who handles sensitive information has read and understood the policy and procedure.

Continually train new staff and check in often to ensure they follow protocols.

What to do next

Review and update your Document Retention Policy annually. Consult legal expertise often to ensure your policy is compliant with the latest regulations.

Above all, stay vigilant and follow the rules you set forth to keep information private and secure.

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