New toolkit offers charities help with records management
Annette McGill

The Charity Finance Group has published a free toolkit to help charities manage records effectively.

The toolkit is designed to help charities assess how well they currently manage records within their organisation and how they can improve their practice. The toolkit also aims to help charities to identify issues and solutions that are appropriate to the size and scope of their organisation.

Relevant for facilities managers

Although the main audience for the toolkit may be finance staff, charities facilities managers are responsible for a wide variety of records which need to be managed effectively. These may include:

  • Property records
  • Deeds
  • Architectural drawings, records and photographs of buildings and projects
  • Specifications,
  • Tenders,
  • Contracts and related correspondence (including email)
  • Inventories,
  • Logbooks,
  • Visitor books
  • Records of special projects

Failing to keep accurate, comprehensive records relating to contracts and financial commitments can expose a charity to significant risks.  Finance departments and HR teams are given budgets to manage critical issues such as security, data protection and records management. But some facilities managers in charities may still be managing their records on a more 'ad hoc' basis – the collection of battered ringbinders in a corner of the office is a familiar image!

The new toolkit has two main parts:

1. A self- assessment questionnaire which can be used to analyse current practice and think about gaps
2. A step-by-step guide to putting together a records management improvement plan with additional resources.

Charities facilities mangers may also be responsible for managing document storage across their charity, and for disposing of confidential records.

Charity Finance Group Chief Executive Caron Bradshaw highlighted the importance of keeping records in an orderly, easily accessible manner:  “While compliance is important, effective record-keeping not only delivers efficiencies in terms of charities staff time spent on locating navigating and interpreting records, but also helps to manage risk.

"By taking steps to get their records in order, charities will be able to demonstrate that they are compliant, but, critically, ensure that they can quickly and easily find the information they need.”

The toolkit is in pdf format and is free to download from here: Record Management in Charities: A Toolkit for Improvement

This project was funded by the British Academy and a UCL Public Policy Engagement Grant. The 'Digitising the Mixed Economy of Welfare in Britain' project  is based at UCL Institute of Education. The project aims to promote awareness of the importance of voluntary organisations’ archives.  You can read more about the project on the Voluntary Sector Archives website.

The Charity Finance Group is a membership organisation which promotes best practice in financial management for charities.