How long a charity will need to keep its records depends on:
- any legal requirements that apply
- the cost of storage
- the charity’s need to access the document
- any historical value it may have
It is useful to keep the minutes of all meetings, particularly trustees' meetings, for the life of the charity. They may need to be used to support decisions approved at meetings or to show approval and adoption of the audited accounts. The minutes of trustees' meetings must be made available to all charity trustees and where necessary, to appropriate professional advisers (eg auditors). This means that if they are stored electronically, copies must be available to all entitled to see them.
Charitable companies will also have to comply with the relevant requirements of the Companies Acts. A charitable company is permitted to retain its statutory books on computer. Copies of its minutes can be stored on a computer. Our guidance Charities and Meetings (CC48) gives further information on the law and good practice at meetings.
A charity’s accounting records must be kept for a minimum of six years unless we consent to their earlier disposal. We recommend that other important charity records are kept for a similar period.
On our website you can see a table showing the most common types of accounting records kept by charities, how long they must be kept for and why.
If a charity winds up, there is no central body which stores dissolved charities’ records.