Record keeping - moving from paper to electronic / digital

Hi all,

This is our first year going electronic with our scholarship process - and we LOVE the capabilities and flexibility it has provided.

But moving to the electronic process also brings changes in how we need to think about doing some things - and the way we've always done things. My old brain sometimes has trouble moving in those directions so I'm asking those of you who have been doing things electronically for some guidance and suggestions on best practices (especially for community foundations....)

In the past with the paper application, we would keep the original application for all awards (7 yrs) and declined apps (3 yrs). Each awarded application files also includes the original Scholarship Acceptance/Verification Information (also paper), copies of thank you notes, certificates, correspondence with the post-secondary schools, etc.

Now that we are electronic and using an online Scholarship Application, Scholarship Approval (or deny) Scholarship Acceptance what is the best practice for keeping copies?

Do you make hard copies of the approved scholarship awards and acceptance agreements? Or do you just keep it electronically?

Have you changed your document retention/destruction policy or other policies to reflect electronic file keeping?

Thoughts? Pros? Cons?

Thanks so much for sharing your process!

Best Regards,

Bettie Stammerjohn

Bettie Stammerjohn

Executive Director

Community Foundation of Greene County, Pennsylvania



  • ElsieThomsonElsieThomson
    Outdoorsy Second Anniversary 25 Likes Photogenic
    edited June 2020

    Hi Bettie,

    Prior to working at Foundant, I was the Operations Manager at a nonprofit which was also a school and I assisted in an effort to move our records online. This is a big undertaking so we knew we could not move everything online with a flip of a switch. Part of the process was simply keeping track of where everything was living - be it paper form or electronic. When we decided to transition our student records online, we kept all previous records paper based as they had been (and they will slowly get rid of them following the retention policy), but ALL records moving forward were stored solely electronically. If something came into the office in paper form, we scanned it in and destroyed the paper version. You want to make sure your electronic versions are backed up in some way, but we decided that only having electronic items (verses some paper and some electronic or duplicates of things) was a much easier way to keep track of what documents existed and where to find them.

    Would love to hear insights from others as well!

    Best, Elsie

  • Bettie,

    I am doing the same exact thing right now. This is my first scholarship grants cycle with Foundant and I am not accepting anything paper. I developed a short video to explain the process. I also have created very detailed slides that show users how to log-in. If anyone would like to borrow the slides, I have uploaded the file here.

    Like Elsie mentioned, I will scan any thank you notes and file them electronically in the students documents tab. When I create a merge document for the letter that will print, I save it in the document tab and do not make an additional copy of the letter after it is signed. I have moved the acceptance on-line as well so there is no other paperwork that is returned to me. I do not have an actual award certificate other than the actual check and letter that is sent. I do keep the check stub

    in my banking files.

    I haven't even considered the old paperwork yet and what I will do with that. I haven't made a change to document retention as mine does not specify paper or electronic files. I am still retaining everything, just electronically.

    A good way to think about it is like this...Imagine you do not have any file cabinets or drawers. If you don't scan/file/shred a document then you have to put it in your chair and sit on it. 🤪

    Happy for you to take a look at my application. If you would like too let me know. [email protected]

    [email protected]


  • "In the past with the paper application, we would keep the original application for all awards (7 yrs) and declined apps (3 yrs)."

    I'm new to this industry and my office is full of boxes of awarded and declined scholarship applications. However, I am not able to find any source for that requirement...

    Foundant is GREAT for going forward - electronic storage for both awarded and declined, including all of the extra attachements and all. But I would love to be able to provide a source to begin the purging! (really, these boxes go back to 1996)

    Thanks, Leslie

  • Thank you Elsie!

    This is helpful information. You are right - transition doesn't happen overnight. So we are slowly working on it.

    As things settle down, we'll be meeting with some new IT providers about various services.

    I appreciate the information and advice.


    Bettie Stammerjohn

    Executive Director

    Community Foundation of Greene County, Pennsylvania

  • Hi Leslie

    I'm still working from home but we have a document retention and destruction policy that lists how long things should be kept.

    I'll ask my assistant to find the backup documents that we used to develop that policy along with a copy of our policy and send it later.

    Best regards,


    Bettie Stammerjohn

    Executive Director

    Community Foundation of Greene County, Pennsylvania

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