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Arts and Culture Public Officials Breakfast 2015

strengthening, unifying and connecting greater Cleveland's arts and culture sector

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You, Me & the CDP

The time of the year is fast approaching when all of us will be thinking about filling out our organization’s Cultural Data Project (CDP) profile. For us here at CPAC, it can be challenging because our audit and other metrics don’t always line up neatly with the way the CDP profile breaks down categories like expenses. But once we get through the data entry, the most obvious benefit many of us see is when we’re working through the grant application and reporting process for funders. So after putting in a great deal of time to get to “review complete” status, there are a number of ways to take advantage of this resource outside of the grant process:

  • Free Financial Reporting Tools. The CDP offers a number of built-in analytic tools that bring together data from your previously entered profiles. CPAC has used these to pull data that we’ve used in our annual reports and as part of development planning for upcoming years. The reports allow you to run trend analyses to track changes to your organization’s data over time, or comparative reports so you can see how your data stacks up to averages for others in the state of Ohio. You can further customize your comparison group for factors like specific region, budget size, endowment size, and number of employees.
  • Assessing Financial Health. The Nonprofit Finance Fund has worked with the CDP to develop a built-in Financial Health Analysis tool, which includes a companion worksheet to help you lead a conversation with your other staff or board members about your organization’s finances.
  • Connecting to National Research Trends. The CDP’s staff and research listings have been a great resource for us as we carry out our own research and think about how to harness the data for new projects going forward. The CDP completed a national strategic planning process to inform its transition to become a standalone 501(c)3  – but it’s never too late to reach out and share your thoughts on your data needs and how you think the CDP can best serve your organization.

Outside of these benefits, together, our data contributions have made Cuyahoga County one of the most robust datasets in the CDP, which raises Cuyahoga County’s prominence in national research efforts as a peer group. Furthermore, having a set of standardized data is a powerful tool for the sector as it:

  1. Increases credibility since each organization’s data entry has been reviewed and approved by a third party, the CDP.
  2. Makes “apples to apples” comparisons possible, which makes data analysis stronger.
  3. Allows arts and culture to make a stronger case in an era when metrics and accountability standards are stricter.
  4. Protects confidentiality of individual organizations, while assessing overall trends facing the sector.

Closer to home, stayed tuned for CPAC’s upcoming release of Culture Pulse 2015, which harnesses the CDP’s Cuyahoga County data to assess the health of our local arts and culture organizations. To see previous reports in this series, visit CPAC's research library here.

Categories: Best Practices, Cultural Data Project, evaluate, metrics, research, resources

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