You Can’t Afford Not to Shred!

by Jana Ruth Harkins, OKCNP Director of Shared Services

The nonprofit sector generates a tremendous amount of paper: client files, vendor information, donor files, financial records, and more. Once these documents and other materials (CDs, DVDs, or PC hard drives) are no longer needed, it is of utmost importance that they be destroyed – securely and permanently—to prevent the information from falling into the wrong hands.

Client files often contain highly sensitive information. If there was a breach in security, a nonprofit’s reputation could be destroyed and/or a family’s finances and credit ruined. A common scam called dumpster diving is one of the primary ways criminals obtain information to perpetrate identity theft and other fraudulent activity. These criminals sift through trash to obtain personal information from discarded documents. This is the main reason your nonprofit should incorporate a destruction clause in its document retention policy.

Every nonprofit dollar has the potential to make a real difference. As a result, professional shredding services may not be at the top of your list of priorities. But in reality, secure document destruction is a service you really can’t afford to be without. If a professional shredding service will play havoc on your administrative budget, investing in a commercial grade crosscut paper shredder may meet your needs. Although it may require a bit of time to research, there are a number of low and/or no—cost options available for document shredding.

Annually in the spring the Oklahoma State Attorney General’s office facilitates Consumer Protection Day. Free document shredding is provided for the public at this no-cost educational event. Additionally, a number of financial institutions and other organizations schedule free shredding events throughout the year. Consider contacting your bank and other financial institutions in your area to find out if they offer free shredding services or schedule events. Several Oklahoma credit unions have free shred events scheduled within the next few weeks. Those in the Oklahoma City area include:

meCU                   Saturday, 9/23/2017       8:00 am – 12:00 pm         8812 South Walker, OKC 73139

Allegiance           Saturday, 9/30/2017       10:00 am – 1:00 pm         12200 S. Western, OKC 73170

TFCU                     Saturday, 10/21/2017     9:00 am – 11:30 am          2315 S. Western Ave, OKC 73109

TFCU                     Saturday, 11/18/2017     9:00 am – 11:30 am          14900 S. Sooner Rd., OKC 73165

 

***Record retention levels***

Permanently: Checks (canceled, taxes, property purchases, special contracts), legal correspondence, donation records of endowment funds and significant restricted funds, tax returns and tax related documents

7 years: Employee personnel records (after termination)

5 years: Bank statements

2 years: General emails

1 year: Purchase orders

For a more comprehensive list, download this PDF…

***There are several documents systems available, which allow you to retain digital copies of your documents. Systems include self-hosted and cloud-hosted  options.

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