Templates: Describing Impact of Your Organization on Your Community

How do you describe the impact of your organization on your community?

“I can’t even draw a stick figure,” said almost every elected official who speaks to arts/artist-heavy audiences.

When advocating for public funds or policies, it is our responsibility to reduce this awkwardness with the arts. After all, we know that most of us in the arts can’t draw either and work with completely different art forms!

Most people, elected officials and their staffs included, haven’t been exposed to a wide diversity of art forms, cultural events and arts education. Even within the arts and culture sector, we rarely understand each other’s work well. We certainly can’t expect all elected leaders to share our passion for our missions either.

Arts and culture organizations vary widely in programs, mission and scope of who is served.

To describe our community impact to those who may not already understand, we should find effective ways to speak to the same community benefits they are seeking in a language they can understand.

In preparation for Oklahoma Arts Day (April 12, 2017), I encourage arts and culture organizations to update your information to share with legislators.

Here are some possible ways to describe your organization's’ outcomes in metrics commonly used by policy makers—return on investment and educational outcomes.

Amon Carter Museum explains educational impact alongside economic impact. 

Amon Carter Museum explains educational impact alongside economic impact. 

Educational Impact:

  1. Number of visits/participating  schoolchildren each year

  2. Number of schools participating in programs

  3. Number of school districts served

  4. Number of teachers receiving professional development

  5. Number of curriculum packets distributed

  6. Amount spent by organization on educational programming

This comes from American Alliance of Museum’s great resources for explaining your impact.

You can share these as sentences and facts within letters, make a 1-page fact sheet or an infographic.

SXSW updates their economic impact annually. They are a large event, but small events could do the same. 

SXSW updates their economic impact annually. They are a large event, but small events could do the same. 

Economic Impact:

  1. Total annual expenditures

  2. Total full time jobs

  3. Total part time or seasonal jobs

  4. Total sales taxes paid

  5. Total payroll taxes paid

  6. Total visitors from outside the city/county/state/country

Look up your program or organization’s economic impact on the Americans for the Arts, Arts and Economic Prosperity Calculator.

And ideas for how to phrase your impact on the American Alliance for Museums website.

OKC's Plaza District shares impact data info in their annual report.

OKC's Plaza District shares impact data info in their annual report.

If you already have a well-honed annual report or impact fact sheet, I’d love to see it (and share with others in the field too!). Either email me or post a link in the comments.

Join us at Oklahoma Arts Day on April 12, 2017 to share the impact of the arts and culture sector with your Oklahoma legislators.

Julia Kirt