Record Management Toolkit Launch Roundup

June 20, 2017 at 17:07

Last ThursdayRM toolkit, CFG in partnership with  the British Academy Research Project ‘Digitising the Mixed Economy of Welfare in Britain’ based at UCL Institute of Education, launched the free Records Management in Charities: A Toolkit for Improvement.

So why do you need good record management?

To put it simply, good record management can help your charity be more efficient in your day-to-day running. Though the initial stages of setting up a record management system might take considerable resources, it will ultimately make your day job easier.

The importance of records and archives cannot be understated. They are also about people and how you treat their records shows how you treat them. Records are also key in safeguarding rights and democracy. No record management process will ever be perfect, it is instead about showing a demonstrable commitment to improvement over time and the openness to adapt and evolve when needed.

Dr Charlotte Clements, who led on this Toolkit, once worked with a small charity that needed to expand their car park. They had the contractor booked and everything was ready to go. The only issue was that they didn’t know exactly where their property ended because they hadn’t seen their title deed. It took this small charity three days to find their title deeds; three days that could have been spent serving their beneficiaries.

Another reason for good record management is the number of regulators charities have to respond to and with a growing focus on data protection from the Information Commissioners Office (ICO). Such regulators can make charities provide information and in some cases can sanction charities if they cannot produce such information, without a credible reason, within a reasonable timescale. Bad record keeping can, essentially, be seen as maladministration of the charity.

Charities working with vulnerable members of society should take particular note. The recent inquiry into child sexual exploitation was granted broad statutory powers to prevent people from disposing of documentation that might be useful. If a charity has a policy that can explain why and how you disposed of records (a key part of record management!) then they would be exempted from any regulatory action.

The introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018 will require good record management for all organisations, including charities. The ICO (who regulates the GDPR) have already stated that the new regulations will require organisations to handle their data in a fair and transparent way, especially around people’s personal data.

This means that you will need a record management policy to allow the ICO and other stakeholders to see your decision making process in how you handle your charities data, both active and old data.

What does the toolkit do?

The toolkit is split into two parts and should give charities the confidence to produce and implement a record management policy.

The first section is self-assessment questionnaires which will help you to think about what your organisation is currently doing for record management and what you might need to do in the future. The sections are split up as:

  1. Records management function
  2. Policies
  3. Roles, responsibilities, training and awareness
  4. Systems for creating and keeping records
  5. Records maintenance and disposal.

The second section is a guide for putting together your records management policy and, where needed, to find additional resources.

Thank you to:

CFG would like to thank Dr Charlotte Clements, who researched and produced this fantastic resource. We would also like to thank Dr Georgina Brewis, who works with Dr Clements at the British Academy Research Project Digitising the Mixed Economy of Welfare in Britain.

 We have been delighted that the UCL’s Public Policy Engagement Grant was given to the project; it is tremendous recognition that academic institutions are recognising the value of collaborating with charities to develop solutions to our numerous challenges.

We would also like to thank all those who attended one of our focus groups, those who attended our Toolkit launch and to our speakers Bruno Longmore (National Records Scotland), Ian Wakeling (The Children’s Society), Martine King (Barnardo’s), Janet Foster (Archives and Records Management Consultant) and Rob Baker (Blind Veterans).

You can download the Records Management in Charities: A Toolkit for Improvement here