RFO Benchmark still free and back for seconds

One year on: MyCake’s secure and direct RFO Culture Benchmark remains a free tool for arts organisations

Yes that’s right – we offer the Arts Council England’s regularly funded arts organisations the ability to see how their annual data submission to ACE compares to that of their peer organisations instantly

Are you ready to benchmark your RFO data set now?  Get started by registering for free now

MyCake’s RFO benchmark is now in its second year – a bespoke Culture Benchmark tool launched in 2011 which continues to be a free product available to all participants of the 2011/12 annual Arts Council England (ACE) survey of Regularly Funded Organisations (RFOs).  Those signed up to the free tool can enter ACE data from the last two years and compare annual performance online at the click of a button.

The RFO Culture Benchmark essentially reproduces the quantitative questions of ACE’s annual survey within an online benchmarking tool so organisations do not need to double up on data or create anything new.  The data is already there at your fingertips. Why not gain immediate value from inputting your data today?

New for this year’s RFO Benchmark activity MyCake are also developing regional clusters of RFO organisations interested in experimenting with their data in Manchester, Newcastle, Birmingham and London. For more details on how to be a part of the regional clusters of RFO Benchmark organisations contact Lauren at press@mycake.org

Get started straight away and register for the RFO Benchmark here for free: https://www.primenumbers.co.uk/benchmark/register.asp?type=mycake

The RFO Benchmark allows RFOs to enter their data simply and easily and make direct relevant comparisons of their organisation to the results in the benchmark using a set of filters such as region, art form or organisations with a similar turnover. Our results allow you to compare on an individual organisation basis rather than looking at how your data contributes to the national statistics … we think this is useful on a day to day basis when working on your business plan, next year’s financial goals and for other in-house strategic work as well as for advocacy to stakeholders.

This is the first time RFOs have the ability to see how their ACE survey results compare to their peers.  Rather than waiting to receive survey results in the annual review meetings with Arts Council England in the last quarter of 2012, you will be able to take your own analysis from the Culture Benchmark into those meetings and debate the implications for your plans for the future.

Sarah Thelwall, founder of MyCake said “There is a wealth of information collected in the ACE RFO survey but until now there has not been an easy way to ask questions of the data. Here at MyCake we strongly believe in supporting arts organisations to use the data they generate through the preparation of financial accounts and answering sector surveys. We see little point in this data simply being prepared and fed to others but not used to support internal decision making processes. We are very pleased to be able to change that with the launch of the RFO Culture Benchmark.”

There are three key benefits for regularly funded organisations using the RFO Culture Benchmark in addition to the ACE’s own RFO survey. Firstly the speed with which results can be accessed – the results are available immediately the minimum data set volume has been met, rather than once all data has been received.  This should be in late July so that RFOs can make an initial benchmark of their survey answers within the Culture Benchmark before submitting the same data to ACE.

The second benefit is that contributors will be able to slice and dice the data as they see fit. The RFO Benchmark is a secure online data tool rather than a static excel spreadsheet, making analysis and comparison of the aggregated data more immediate and flexible. In particular it allows RFOs to ask questions of the data that matter to them by using various data filters with the function to apply multiple filters to certain data queries.  So, if an RFO wanted to make comparisons based on the makeup of the board or the diversity of its staff it could do this. We would like to also point out that your organisations data is confidential to you …. we don’t ever share individual data sets with your competitors or your funders!

Finally, making use of the RFO Benchmark has the ability to change the relationship between the RFO and its ACE officer. Instead of waiting to receive the survey results in the ACE annual review meeting, an RFO can review the benchmark before going into the meeting and will be in a position to participate in a rich discussion of the strengths and weaknesses as shown in the RFO survey results and benchmark. The benchmark is an excellent tool to prepare thoughts on the changes RFOs will be making.

MyCake recently delivered free half day workshops focusing on the Culture Benchmark in four UK cities – delegates were amazed and inspired after hearing Sarah talk about the benefits of this approach and seeing the benchmarking in action.

“I really enjoyed the session, I found it interesting, informative, engaging and extremely useful – and I don’t normally find data related sessions interesting!  Everybody should be doing it!” delegate at Manchester: Culture Benchmark session

Discussions will be continuing with all the organisations involved in the workshops and foundations will be laid for further collaborations in the future. If organisations are interested in being a part of these workshop groups in the future please contact sarah@mycake.org

Existing Culture Benchmark subscribers will have the RFO version automatically added to their subscription for free.

For analysis of the RFO Benchmark data 2010/11 see Looking at the RFO Benchmark data for 2011 on the MyCake blog.

Some of our cogitations and findings from last year’s RFO benchmark data included:

Small and medium sized RFO’s spend a greater proportion of their revenue on staff costs but given the average number of permanent staff per million of turnover is only 4 we suggest that this is to be expected as all staff are likely to have a delivery role in addition to any management role.

Donations are worth an average of 1% of total income. It is worth noting that the max is also 1%. Whilst a great deal of emphasis is being placed on private giving we would still question whether this is a substantial opportunity for small and medium sized organisations.

50% of responding organisations do have a Balance Sheet that sets out their Assets & Liabilities, 50% declined to answer this question


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  1. Pingback: No pain no gain for Arts Council National Portfolio Organisations | MyCake financial management

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