Benchmarking come rain or shine


What a week! Two umbrellas down, soggy trousers and don’t get me started on this weather’s potential to wreak havoc with everybody’s hair. Alas we must soldier on and here at MyCake home of the Culture Benchmark we are announcing the dates for a series of free half day workshops that will boost your benchmarking skills and ignite in you a passion for your organisation’s data.

Culture Benchmark free workshops

We are offering a set of benchmarking workshops across England for current Culture Benchmark, RFO Benchmark, MMM Re.volution peers and any other non-profit arts organisation who wishes to explore the benefits of benchmarking.

Benchmarking has gained quite a bit of press coverage over the last few months and an increasing number of arts organisations are starting to explore how it can benefit their strategy and development planning. As a leading provider of benchmarking services to the non-profit arts sector MyCake is offering a set of free workshops across England to provide the opportunity to ask questions, start benchmarking and, for those already benchmarking, to improve your benchmarking skills.

Who would benefit from attending?


Existing Culture Benchmark and RFO Benchmark subscribers who wish to develop further skills in interpreting the results, setting up bespoke filters & scenarios and who wish to develop their thinking about the external advocacy and internal strategy uses of benchmark data.

MMM Re.volution peers who want to work more closely with MyCake on both entering the evaluation data and gaining the benefits of the organisational benchmarking that they now have six months of access to.

Organisations who participate in one or more clusters or are members of sector bodies such as the ITC, VAGA etc. MyCake has developed bespoke group analysis for a number of clusters over the last year and this enables members to compare their activities to their immediate peers and for the group to develop evidence for advocacy activities for the group as a whole.

Any arts organisation whose business model is going through significant change in the light of funding cuts or changes. Benchmarking enables these organisations not simply to compare their past achievements against the sector norms but to compare their assumptions of their future business model against the best in class e.g. for the percentage of income achieved from private giving of individual donations or sponsorship.

What will the workshop cover?

This set of half day workshops will provide a brief introduction to the principles of benchmarking and the products and services offered by MyCake before moving into a highly participatory approach designed to get you benchmarking and gaining the benefits from it within the workshop itself.

You will need to bring a laptop plus a couple of years of management accounts data (annual) and (if appropriate) RFO survey data (the stats part you provided to ACE) and we will provide wi fi access so that you can benchmark your organisation on the day.

After the workshop  you will continue to have access to the free products that MyCake provides but only subscribers will have access to the paid for services. All participating organisations will also be able to book a one hour telephone conversation with Sarah Thelwall (MyCake founder) to discuss the results and ongoing uses of benchmarking in their organisation.

Workshop dates:

Places on these workshops are limited to 20 per session and your free place can be booked via our eventbrite page –

Any no-shows will be charged £100 + VAT … we anticipate high demand and need to discourage that bad habit of booking to reserve a free place but without prioritising it in your diary!
•    Manchester – 19 June
•    Newcastle – 21 June
•    Birmingham – 26 June
•    London – 2 July

Comments from current benchmarking workshop participants:

The development of MyCake’s benchmarking is essential to intelligently and coherently demonstrate the strength of the arts sector as a valid industry/sector; creatively and economically.??For small organisations, it offers a comprehensive approach to enable us to describe our effectiveness without compromising our trajectory, commitment to our ethics, processes, and outputs.

MyCake’s benchmarking will enable us to challenge misconceptions of the importance of the arts in a growing climate of austerity and conservative thinking.”

Sandra Hall, Co-Director
Friction Arts, Birmingham UK

Sarah is working with a cluster of Birmingham’s independent arts companies to help us articulate the cultural, social and economic impact of what we do. She is using a variety of approaches, resources and skills to enable us to do this.  Some tools are tangible, such as the My Cake Culture Benchmark system: the most fun and interest I have had comparing figures and interpreting their messages.

Other tools are less tangible but no less effective: Sarah’s approach has kept a diverse, challenged and challenging group of companies working together to find our common successes and ways of sharing them. It is to her enormous credit that she has facilitated this group with enormous skill and sensitivity.  This has contributed to this group beginning to find it’s statistics, stories and voice.”

Noel Dunne, Director of Creative Alliance and co-chair of the Birmingham Independent Arts Sector Group

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