(Photo by Julie Zeglen)
Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance (GPCA) has social impact on the brain.
Not just because the membership organization for local arts and culture nonprofits is federally mandated to act charitably, but because if it doesn’t, it risks losing something essential to its sustainability, and that of its members: relevance.
GPCA invited its members to take a Social Impact & Workforce Development Census this summer, and 179 obliged. The full results won’t be released until Spring 2019, but peep some early findings from the survey:
- Members have hosted 1,056 social impact-related programs in 24 categories at over 2,000 locations.
- Those categories included accessibility, anti-violence, health, reentry, neighborhood safety and the like.
- Sixty-five percent of that programming took place outside of members’ facilities, and 46 percent happened in public spaces such as parks and recreation centers.
- Seventy-two programs have started in the past two years, and GPCA designated “emerging areas of impact” to be immigration and refugee resettlement, aging, LGBTQ, racial justice, and homelessness and housing insecurity.
(Programming could be counted if the organizations were currently running them at the time of data collection and had been in place anywhere from less than a year up to a decade, Strategic Communications Manager Kristin Vinh said via email.)
The survey was inspired by GPCA’s April “Beyond the Check: A Roadmap for Engaging Individual Donors” report, which found that high-net-worth donors who did not already support the arts and culture sector cited their belief that the arts have little social or community impact as a reason for not.
In other words: Art didn’t feel relevant to them when their money is so in-demand and they’re called to help solve social ill after social ill.
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GPCA and its members knew that wasn’t true. The social impact census was born of the need for arts nonprofits to be able to prove with data that their work, and their sector, was addressing important community issues, said VP of Advocacy and Strategic Partnerships Anne Marie Rhoades, who shared the report’s numbers at GPCA’s annual meeting on Monday evening.
Her advice to members: Beyond these numbers, start tracking whatever you can use to communicate to donors why their support matters. She quoted Chief Strategy Officer Michael Norris: “You go to war with the data you have, not the data you want.”
Indeed, it’s tough to tell from these early numbers what the impact of all these programs has been, and over what period of time. We’ll look for the final report to provide more insight.-30-
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