Development and Alumni Affairs Records Retention Guidelines (Draft)


The following records retention guidelines provide recommendations for the disposition of records and information used to document giving, fundraising activities and activities and programs for Duke alumni. They should be used in conjunction with guidelines that address other categories of records.

These guidelines apply to records and data stored on any and all media. These guidelines do not obligate an office to create records that did not previously exist.

Fiscal Records

Much of the information used in the management and oversight of development and alumni affairs activities is financial in nature. An office should follow procedures laid out in Financial Services’ General Accounting Procedure 200.240 Retention Periods for Accounting Records when disposing of financial records.

Using the Retention Guidelines

The retention guidelines identify minimum retention periods for several categories of records and may be used to provide for the routine and consistent disposal of inactive information.

Following the minimum retention period, the records in question should be disposed of according to the recommendations in these guidelines. In some cases it is important to destroy information using a method that preserves its confidentiality. (This excludes records identified for permanent retention.) Duke University maintains contracts with several shredding facilities. Visit Procurement Services for more information.

If you need assistance or guidance in transferring records, email:

A title and brief description of the contents of each series identifies the information or data to be disposed of following the recommended retention period. DO NOT dispose of any records or data if an investigation, legal action or proceeding, audit or program review is forthcoming or in progress.

If you maintain records that are not identified in these or other guidelines and need assistance, contact the Duke University Archives.

Off-site Storage

In most cases, offices responsible for maintaining records do not have adequate space to store them beyond one or two years. If records must be moved to an off-site storage location, consider the following needs:

  • access and retrieval — including frequency of retrieval, emergency access needs and potential costs associated with getting to the records
  • environmental conditions that provide stable and friendly conditions for the records

  • security systems that prevent unauthorized access to the records

  • filing systems that permit the rapid retrieval of records via a logical index, box list or similar finding aid

  • overall physical and intellectual control over the records for which you are the guardian

Abbreviations and Definitions

  • Administrative Value: the usefulness of a record in the conduct of the office’s business.
  • Minimum Retention: the minimum amount of time a particular series of records should be retained prior to disposition.
  • Permanent: an indefinite retention period; signifies that the records have sufficient value or importance to justify keeping them in perpetuity. Permanent 
retention also may be based on legal requirements or demonstrated and justifiable need. Long-term or permanent retention of electronic records requires resources for data migration, ensuring the integrity and trustworthiness of the data and addressing hardware/software obsolescence. An office should consider the long-term availability of its resources prior to expressing an interest in retaining information permanently. The University Archives or the Medical Center Archives is the official repository for information with historical or enduring value.

  • Records: all recorded information, regardless of its physical form or characteristics, created or received pursuant to the transaction of university business or in the fulfillment of its educational, administrative, business or legal obligations.
  • Record Series (or Series):  a group/set of identical or related records, information or data that are normally used and filed or stored as a logical unit; synonymous with data set.

Duke University Records Retention Guidelines

Category Description: Development and Alumni Affairs Records

Primary Heading: Development and Alumni Affairs Records 

These records document giving, fundraising activities and activities and programs for alumni.


Series Title


Minimum Retention


Advance database electronic record keeping system used to track alumni and other donors' giving and to track potential donors; includes alumni and donor demographic data, contact information, biographical data, giving histories, etc. Update as necessary and purge obsolete data when no longer useful See donor files
Alumni programs Information concerning programs such as alumni admissions, education and travel, etc.

See recommendations for disposition of programmatic records in Administrative & Management Records guidelines; see recommendations for disposition of admissions records in Student Records guidelines.

Annual operating plans annual operating plans for specific development offices, with supporting financial data 5 years; transfer to Archives (Contact Archives prior to transfer of electronic records) See guidelines for Administrative & Management Records for instructions on disposing of other reports and planning documents
Campaign materials case statements, brochures, videos, summaries of activities/ progress/ accomplishments, etc. Administrative value ends; transfer to Archives (Contact Archives prior to transfer of electronic records)  
Donor files information concerning donors and prospective donors; includes primarily correspondence and acknowledgements (paper or email) of gifts Administrative value ends; destroy/purge See Advance database

Administrative value may end sooner if information in file can be replicated from Advance database

Fund development endowment reports, correspondence and email with donors, agreements, fund statistics, information on restrictions, etc. Administrative value ends; destroy/purge  
Gift records records of financial gifts given for Annual Fund, campaigns, planned giving, etc. Follow applicable guidelines in General Accounting Procedure 200.240, Retention Periods for Accounting Records   
Nominations for distinguished alumni awards Administrative value ends; destroy/purge
Special events promotional material and brochures, guest lists, photos and/or proof sheets, planning reports, meeting notes, invitations, financial data, presentations and other records concerning reunions, alumni weekend, fundraising events, kickoffs, etc. Contact Archives about transfer of special events records and/or transfer of electronic records. Follow applicable guidelines in General Accounting Procedure 200.240, Retention Periods for Accounting Records for disposition of fiscal records.