Cloud Storage of Council Minutes and Correspondence?

Comments (7)

Does anyone presently use cloud storage for Council documents or have tips/suggestions for an online storage of Council files? These need to be easy to access for all Council members. Storing all the hard copies has become a bit tedious.  

Thanks,

Peg VanderMeer

Clerk of Council

Bethel CRC, Waterdown, Ontario

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Participant

Last year our council began storing documents on Google Drive. As the Admin Assistant, and the person who assists the chair and pastor with agendas, document collection and putting together the packet for the council agenda, I have found that it goes pretty smoothly. I have asked them not to DELETE ANYTHING, but to trust that the documents will be cleaned out as needed.

So, while it has been a learning process, we are transitioning to having almost all of our council members accessing the agenda and associated documents online during the meeting. It is printed prior to the meeting for one or two of 14 attending members. 

When minutes become part of the approved minutes, I save them as .pdf versions with the note "approved at Council meeting, date", and then the noted chair and clerk and person who took the minutes. These are saved in the Approved Council Minutes folder. (printed version goes into the binder in the vault)

Our council has four year terms, and usually it only takes a couple of meetings for those new to Google Drive to figure out the ins and outs of how it works, and I always let them know I'm available by phone or email.

I also don't assume the whole council knows how to find a specific document or the agenda packet, so when it is ready, i send it as a link in the email, reminding them of the upcoming meeting. 

I hope this was helpful.

 

Google is great for this.  In fact it is what is used at the denominational offices for conducting the business of Synod each year. Box.net and Dropbox are a couple of the many others.

When you select a cloud service, find out if your documents will be secure both while stored in the cloud (data "at rest") and while you are creating, editing, uploading,etc. (data "in transit").  The service should be providing security (encryption) for both. A second component of security relates to access.  As council members change, someone will have to keep up with changing security and adding and deleting accounts/logins.  Often you can set up "groups" that have access and then just move people in and out of groups. Deleting old accounts is an important component of security. 

You state that keeping the hard copies has become tedious.  I can imagine that is the case, however, keeping a single hard copy of the minutes is a very good idea.  This is for two reasons 1) the format of electronic documents change significantly over time and often are not readable by the newer technology, 2) the storage medium (disks, CDs, flash/ drives) also change and can render the documents useless.

Calvin College provides archival services for all CRC congregations.  When sending in your church's material--Calvin wants it in paper format. You can find details at http://www.calvin.edu/hh/crc_archives.htm.  On this web page there is a file called "Keeping Congregational Records" that has great information about what, why, and how when it comes to record management.

 

 

To use Google Drive for 'an organization', Google is requesting that I sign up (and pay) for a domain name.  Is this what you have had to do as well?  I had assumed that it was a free program.  I've started my own personal Google drive and tested it out, uploading and sharing documents, but do not want my personal one to be the main Google Apps for the church, especially as you mention, Shirley, council members change.

Curious, Geri, do the majority of your meeting attendees then bring their own personal devices to the meeting (laptop, tablet, phone) and use these during the meeting?  We presently email out the full meeting agenda in advance for everyone to review, but then provide hard copies at the meeting so that not everyone is clicking away on a device.  Or do you put the agenda on a projected screen?

Thanks for your responses!   

Peg

Participant

Peg, you can use your personal account. then invite yourself at your church email to share a folder or document. Then share that folder with the council members. When I upload new agendas for council I always use the copy link option and use my church email to inform all the council members, include the link, as well as the simple instructions about where the agenda is in the council folder. 

The council folder is easy enough to manage the sharing as council members change. The share "circle" at the top of the page can be opened (click advanced after opening) and then remove council members who have retired out and invite council members who are new.

At council meetings, out of 14 attending, we have 2 who prefer to print all the papers and supporting documents. a couple of them print just the agenda, and then follow on their tablets, computer or phone for the supporting documents. But the majority have a tablet or computer, and the church IT volunteer has made the wifi public access strong for the council room so we have not had any problems with connections. The only clicking away on a computer is my typing when minutes are being recorded. everyone else is just scrolling. Hopefully on the agenda and supporting documents, on not on Twitter. :) 

We haven't had the agenda on a projected screen, but that is a wonderful idea. However, we don't have a screen in the council room. Yet. (note to self, contact the tech team.) :)

This continues to be a vexing issue, both on the privacy front and the CRA's continuing insistence that the "Ebay case" doesn't apply to charities (i.e. books and records need to be on servers either "in-house" to the Canadian charity, or inside of Canada -- at a minimum).

This goes right back to some of the discussions we had when PIPEDA was introduced: Technology is galloping ahead way faster than any legislative updates can accommodate.

So, this becomes an issue of balancing risks.  Does a charity make use of technological advancements & efficiencies (e.g. Google Drive/"the Cloud") or continue to rely on its own physical servers in its own bricks and mortar facilities?  There is no definitive answer to this, so it becomes a decision of each church leadership on what it will do.  However, that should be done consciously, with serious consideration.  Some professional legal advice may be in order.

Sorry this is a bit of a "soft" answer, but until some court case comes along to cement things a bit, charity leaders just need to move forward with the usual proper caution.

Do we know what the long term footprint is for things that are posted on the cloud and then deleted? I have switched from storing virtually everything on dropbox to an in-house server primarily to stay ahead of legalities and for our own comfort. However, I like the idea of google drive for council agendas. Could we keep permanent storage in-house but temporarily provide agendas online? Or is there no such thing as temporary with the internet?

Community Builder

  We use Google Docs for co-creating orders of worship and such and other leadership documents are now also being posted there.  Seems easy to invite those who need access to them to go head.  I'm not super techy but there are a lot of youthful folks who are ;)

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