Records Retention Policy


The Sarbanes-Oxley Act makes it a criminal offense to alter, cover up falsify or destroy any document, or to persuade others to do so, in order to prevent such document use in an official proceeding or investigation.

Office Depot Foundation, Inc., must comply with the Act and should also have a written document retention policy and a periodic destruction policy.  Administrative personnel who work with the organization’s documents should be familiar with these policies to prevent accidental document destruction.

Further, these recommended guidelines should be reviewed by the Board of Directors from time to time and adjusted as appropriate.

Records and Documents to Keep Permanently

Organizational Documents

Keep the originals of these documents in a secure, fireproof location.

  • Organizational and charter documents – Articles of Incorporation, including any amendments to these documents, and including Articles and amendments as filed in state of incorporation (Illinois) and any other states in which organization is authorized to carry on its activities as a foreign not-for-profit corporation (Florida).
  • IRS Form 1023, the organization’s application for federal tax exempt status – keep a complete copy of the application along with all attachments and schedules, and all related correspondence with the IRS, including all correspondence and documents related to any organizational changes reported to and approved by the IRS.
  •  IRS Form SS-4, the application for the organization’s taxpayer identification number and EIN issued by the IRS.
  • IRS tax determination letter, granting 501(c)(3) status.
  • Corporate Bylaws and any amendments to the Bylaws.

Legal and Accounting Records

  • All IRS Form 990s, the foundation’s annual tax and information return including supporting workpapers.
  • Any official correspondence to or from the IRS, including private letter rulings or audit findings;
  • Any other tax exemption certificates-for example, from state or local authorities, such as Florida sales tax exemption or proof of registration under Florida Solicitations Act.
  • Property and asset records, such as asset purchases and depreciation records.
  • Contracts (still in effect).
  • Audit Reports and year-end financial statements.
  • Deeds, mortgages and bills of sale for major purchases.
  • Insurance Records (insurance policies still in effect, and occurrence –based insurance policies, accident reports, claims, etc.).
  • Records related to employee pension and retirement plans.
  • Board of Directors meeting minutes and resolutions.

Records and Documents to Keep for a Fixed Time Period

Program Records – 7 years

  • Grantee records; determination letters and verification, grantee financial records, and grant reports;
  • Contribution correspondence and cancelled checks;
  • Matching funds records;
  • Letter of inquiry, grant applications, and general correspondence with grant seekers may be kept for 4 years;

Personnel Records – 7 years after termination

  • Personnel records: applications, personnel file, time reports, unemployment claims, withholding, and W-2 forms;
  • Foundation’s payment to employees; and
  • Worker’s compensation polices and reports.

Financial Records – 7 years

  • Bank statements and reconciliations;
  • Budget and expense reports;
  • Check requests and invoices;
  • Record of transactions and cancelled checks – keep for tax reporting and the audit period that follows;
  • General ledger and journal;
  • Annual summary of investments and securities;
  • Investment manager reports – keep until the assets are sold (or otherwise disposed of), and for the duration of the audit period;
  • Cash contributions and community foundations – keep until tax reporting is complete and the audit period has ended; and
  • Gifts of securities to community foundations – keep until the securities are sold, the transaction is reported on the community foundation’s tax return, and the audit period has ended.
  • Accounts Payable Records.
  • Contracts, mortgages, notes and leases (expired).
  • Payroll Records including withholding tax returns and records.
  • Personnel Files.

Fundraising Event Records – 5 years 

Immediately upon the close of a fundraising event, staff shall organize the records into two types—those that will provide guidance for the following year’s event and those that are supporting documents.  The documents that will help to guide the event the next year should be placed in a notebook for easy access the following year.  All other documents should be filed and stored: 

  • Contracts, correspondence, budgets, financial records, sponsor agreements, list of participants;
  • Invitations, newsletters, press releases;
  • Contribution correspondence and cancelled checks;
  • General correspondence

General Records – Three Years

  • Employment Applications
  • Insurance Policies (Expired)
  • Internal Audit Reports

General RecordsTwo Years

  • General Correspondence

Purging Inactive Documents Regularly

Staff shall select an annual Purge Day, when trustees and/or staff file documents, review files, purge inactive documents, and archive records.

Archiving Documents Regularly

Archive documents regularly that the Foundation does need daily, but wishes to keep for historical purposes.

Protecting Your Records

The risk of a natural disaster is such that the Foundation must always be prepared and keep a copy of these records offsite.

  • Photocopy of the vital records;
  • Back up of computer files; and
  • Always protect the computer system from viruses and spyware.

Public Disclosure Rules

The Foundation must comply with the IRS public disclosure rules.  As a public foundation, the following documents must be made available:

  • Form 990-PF, the annual information return filed with the IRS, for the three most recent years, and
  • Form 1023, the application for federal tax-exempt status (and all related correspondence with the IRS).

To be technically “complete,” these documents must be provided exactly as filed with the IRS, including having all signatures.

Copies for Inspection: Foundations must provide copies of the above documents for inspection during normal business hours at their principal office (usually on the same day requested), or at an alternative location, if the foundation has no office (within 30 days of a written request).

Copies by Request: Foundations also must respond to requests for photocopies of the above documents, within 14 days of receiving the request.  (You may charge reasonable fees for copying and mailing costs.)

The Web Option: The Foundation may avoid having to comply with requests for photocopies if it makes its documents “widely available” by posting them on the Web, with signatures.  The Web site must be in a format that allows persons to download, view, and print the documents free of charge.

GuideStar ( automatically posts your three most recent 990-PF forms on its Web site.  This makes it easy to fulfill requests for the foundation’s documents.  GuideStar will post the 1023 Form only if the Foundation pays them to do so.  And, there is some lag time between filing with the IRS and GuideStar posting the forms online.

Note about Posting Documents on the Web without Signature: If the Foundation posts its 990-PF and 1023 forms on the Web without a signature, or directs the public to GuideStar which does not post signatures, it will still have to provide photocopies to anyone who requests “complete” forms.  The 990-PF and 1023 forms are not technically complete without the signatures.