File Naming Best Practices for Non-Profits

Your organisations data is more valuable than money. It is the new currency of the technological age, and as such, should be protected and stored correctly. Data management for non-profits is no different. To save time and prevent costly errors down the line, it’s necessary to decide on how you’ll name and structure your folders and files upfront.

When configuring your file naming, including information such as metadata allows you to add more context to the information you’re storing. This makes it easier for new people to understand the way your data is stored during their onboarding process. Should someone leave the organisation in the future, they don’t take away with them the only insights into how your data is stored. It’s a legacy that will stand until it is changed.

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Approaching Naming Conventions and File Organisation

Selecting a consistent and logical way to name and organise files makes it easier to find them, whether it’s an employee that’s been with the organisation for one day or 10 years. Naming conventions are essential for consistency’s sake, and it’s better to define them upfront in order to carry them through all iterations of your document management.

Whether you’re working on a network or a standalone computer, the need for a system that allows smooth access to files, avoids duplication and allows files to be backed up is essential. A good approach to take is to start with a logical folder structure. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Use folders – grouping files together in folders allow relevant information to be stored in one central place
  • Take a legacy approach – make sure there aren’t any established approaches in your department or team that you can adopt to simplify data management
  • Be consistent in naming conventions – whether you’re naming a folder or a document, stick to the naming method you’ve adopted.
    • A good approach is to name folders after the areas of work to which they relate, and not after any individual, as individuals come and go and it can be tough remembering who was the owner of a project several years down the line
  • Structure folders hierarchically and start with a limited number of folders for any broader projects. After this, create more specific folders that can be broken down logically

Sound Data Management Equals Smooth Operation

Have you ever been in a situation where you desperately need a document to back up your claims and you cannot find it? The panic that arises is unpleasant, and you feel completely inept without that one piece of information that will validate everything you are dealing with at that point in time. It’s the same with your data management and file naming processes. Keeping them clear, organised and logical makes it so much easier to access when you need the information at hand.

Keeping track of important information is critical to keeping your organisation running smoothly. You’ll make life easier for everyone in your non-profit organisation if you’re able to keep your data organised and easily accessible. It also pays to assess materials frequently to ensure you don’t have files stored needlessly. Adopt sound data management policies to ensure your organisation adheres to all compliance regulations and that you’re never without the essential data that you need for effective running of your business.

Data management and file naming best practices are one part of a huge topic.

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Posted by Lachie Dixon

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