SMU DataArts - Cultural Data Profile


Cultural Data Profile Survey Streamline

You asked for a survey that takes less time to complete, we heard you. In December 2020, SMU DataArts pared down our flagship service, the Cultural Data Profile (CDP).

Our goal was to streamline the CDP to make data entry easier for arts and cultural organizations while preserving the data points used to generate valuable insights for all of our stakeholders.

Webinar Series: What You Need to Know About the New CDP Survey

Our series of 30-minute webinars introduce users to the new streamlined survey. Watch the recordings below:

The Basics

A brief walkthrough of the new streamlined CDP, the transformation of your existing data for continuity of reporting, and the resources and documentation available. Everything you need to know to get ready.


Data Entry Tips for Audited Organizations

More in-depth tips on data entry for the new streamlined CDP. Includes tips on Financial/Audit totals and the error check, the new expenses section, special events revenue, and program activity. 


Data Entry Tips for Un-Audited Organizations and Organizations Under $50k 

More in-depth tips on data entry for the new streamlined CDP. Includes tips on the new expenses section, special events revenue, renewal rates, program activity.


An Overview of the New Narrative Questions

The new CDP will include narrative questions that will appear on your Funder reports. We will walk through different ways to use these fields to highlight your organization's strengths and particular context to funders.


Can I preview the survey questions before starting a new survey?

Yes! We encourage users to download a copy of the survey that best fits your organization to help gather your data for quicker upload. You can find a copy of the survey on this page.

How did you determine what to include in this new version of the CDP?

Our research team identified the data points used most frequently in the Funder reports, the KIPI Dashboard, and our regular field research.  These comprise the starting point for the new CDP survey. We subsequently held initial feedback conversations with arts and cultural organizations and grantmakers, which informed the current draft of the streamlined CDP. 

What happened to my existing CDP data that I have already entered?

All existing CDP profiles were transformed to the new format and remain available on our online platform. Changes to data fields were made retroactively so that past and current year data profiles can continue to be used for trend reporting. We have saved your CDP data in its original format. If you would like to receive a copy of your data in CSV format, please contact our support center.

Will this really make it easier?

We’re counting on it! That is our goal. We invested significant time in gathering user experience knowledge, reactions, questions, and concerns from a wide array of stakeholders to ensure that this streamline will make a real difference to the data entry process. Everyone who has participated in a phone call, focus group, or open comment process provided valuable feedback that was essential to our process. The back-end structural changes we’re making to the survey as part of this streamline will also enable us to pursue the future development of other platform features, such as the ability to upload data from a spreadsheet, to further reduce the data reporting burden. While data entry is unlikely to ever be instantaneous, we are invested in making the process smoother so that arts leaders can spend less time reporting and more time learning from their organizational data.

Why are you still collecting so much detail about revenue?

We recognize that the revenue portion of the survey is one of the most detailed, and will remain so in the streamlined version. This is because the detail provided through these questions is a key component of our research on the cultural sector, our KIPI Dashboard, and the analytics reports available to our users. Detailed tracking of revenue by source is an essential aspect of planning for arts and cultural organizations and this data can help arts leaders understand their own business model and how it compares to their peers, as well as inform planning to keep their organizations sustainable over the long term.

Why are you still collecting expenses separated by functional grouping?

The expense section of the streamlined survey is much reduced, but maintains the three column presentation by functional groupings found in the IRS 990 and GAAP standards: Program, Management and General, and Fundraising (these columns are optional for organizations with annual expenses over $50,000). Understanding how organizations are allocating resources across these three main functions is essential for much of our research, insights, and tools. For example, our Fundraising Report relies on the fundraising expenses figure to assess the return on investment in fundraising across the sector, key metrics in our KIPI Dashboard assess organization performance in relation to its investment in programming, and the breakdown by functional groupings is also a key feature of many of our reports used by grantmakers and cultural organizations alike.

When can I upload my data directly to the CDP?

This streamline of the CDP represents a first step towards our goal of allowing users to directly upload data into the Cultural Data Profile. Once our streamlined survey is launched at the end of 2020, exploring the direct upload of data will be among our top organizational priorities for 2021. User financial data is stored in a wide variety of systems and formats, and users have expressed concern about allowing the CDP direct access to accounting and other data collecting systems. For these reasons, we will be starting with a financial data system agnostic spreadsheet upload tool to allow users to upload their data via spreadsheet.

How much did you remove from the survey?

We have reduced the survey by approximately 39 sections and 109 line items. Some of the sections and line items we removed were optional, or were not available for all organizations. It’s difficult to quantify the overall effects this will have on how long users spend completing the CDP because of the many variables involved, including the different versions of the survey completed by different users, and the different types of data that users have access to at their organizations to complete the form. But we are confident that the overall reduction in complexity will save time for the majority of our users. There are a few key changes, such as a drastic reduction in complexity in the expense section and the more straightforward approach to program activity, where we hope users will find significant time savings.

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