SMU DataArts - Cultural Data Profile


Cultural Data Profile Survey Streamline

You asked for a survey that takes less time to complete, we heard you. SMU DataArts has pared down our flagship survey, the Cultural Data Profile (CDP), which is used by arts leaders across the country to report data for grant application processes, measure organizational performance, and understand sector-wide trends and insights. 

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.

NEW! Analytic Reports from Your Streamlined Cultural Data Profile

Entering your data into the CDP is only the beginning. Whether you have one year of data, or fifteen, SMU DataArts analytic reports can be an invaluable tool for all of your organization’s stakeholders.

  • Annual Report - a great overview of your organization. It provides a high-level snapshot of your financial and programmatic activity, including workforce and attendance details, showing up to a three-year trend. Use it to orient new staff and board members, and to introduce prospective donors and grantmakers to your organization.  
  • Financial Overview - combines data tables and colorful charts to highlight key aspects of your operating activity and financial health. Use the report as a financial check-up on recent trends and changes in your overall business model, spending, and working capital. Share the report with your treasurer, finance committee, and full board to inform your decisions and planning.

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Striking a Balance

High-quality data and research is essential to furthering our understanding of how the sector functions, building strong advocacy narratives, and informing cultural leaders facing tough decisions. At the same time, capacity and people-power is a scarce resource in our sector now more than ever, and the value of sector-wide data must be balanced with the efforts and resources required to collect it. The recent changes to our Cultural Data Profile are a part of finding that balance.

Revenue Section

  • The revenue section is undergoing the least amount of changes out of all sections because this data is used widely in research, analytic reports, and our KIPI Dashboard to produce insights about how organizations are supported and how support has changed over time. The Contributed Revenue section in particular retains a similar level of detail in the new CDP.
  • The earned revenue section has been reduced from 30 lines to 15.

Expense Section

  • The detail collected in the expense section has been reduced dramatically, from 37 lines to 17. Lines that provide key insight into the organization’s finances and have been retained, while other details have been removed. Tracking details about spending is key to financial stewardship, but many of these details were not frequently used in our research.
  • We have retained the three-column functional expense format (Program, Management and General, and Fundraising) for organizations over $50,000 in annual expenses. This format enables key insights like return on fundraising and investment in programs, and is fairly standard in other organizational reporting such as audits and IRS 990s.
  • We have retained a question that asks organizations to report the portion of its expenses associated with Marketing. This data allows us to provide insights into marketing activities across the sector.
  • We have retained a question that asks organizations to report the amount paid directly to artists, which helps quantify investments in artists across the sector.

Balance Sheet

  • This section has been reduced from 23 lines to 16. Reducing the level of detail provided will save time for organizations and we will still be able to calculate many key financial health metrics, such as working capital.
  • We have removed the Loans, Fixed Asset, and Endowment details sections. These details are also available in an organization’s audit, and have not been used extensively for our research. We will retain a few key details including Line of Credit Limit, and Accumulated depreciation of Fixed Assets.

Workforce and Workplace

  • We've removed the Hours Worked and Full Time Equivalent questions.
  • We've added a new Turnover column for staffing data. This column is meant to capture the number of people who left their positions during each fiscal year.

Program Activity

  • The current survey includes a very customized program activity section with 32 possible sections to complete based on the type of program activities for each organization. This provides a lot of opportunity for customization, but we also heard from users that distributing questions across all those different sections made the survey difficult to complete.
  • The new program activity section will have three standard sections to report: Ticketing/Member/Subscriber data, number of programs of each type, and number of participants.
  • The new program section will also provide organizations the ability to better track digital versus in-person programming.

Download the New Survey

Download a PDF or Excel version of the streamlined survey to help prepare your data. These files include all the definitions and instructions available in the survey.  Choose the version that best matches your organization below:


CDP for very small organizations - expenses less than $50,000 annually

PDF Download | Excel Download

CDP for un-audited organizations - expenses over $50,000 annually who do not receive an audit or review from a nonprofit accounting firm

PDF Download | Excel Download

CDP for audited organizations - receive an audit or review  from a nonprofit accounting firm

PDF Download | Excel Download

Data Transformation Manual

PDF Download

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.


View Calendar


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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