“Research is our bread and butter. We work with a local steering group to design a large questionnaire, and then all the information that comes back can be analysed on this software. It’s much better than other packages for analysing research such as SurveyMonkey. CADISPA manages a network of around 55 community groups, and more and more of these groups are involved in doing their own surveys. This software is also more cost-effective than the others.”

— Rhona Anderson, company secretary

Sustaining Scotland’s Rural Communities

The CADISPA Trust is based in Paisley, but it works across the breadth of rural Scotland, offering expertise, support, and a rigorously analytical approach to communities that are hoping to develop and grow. The charity assimilates knowledge and can share paths to success with future clients. Its website is full of downloadable resources and examples that range from draft "conditions of hire" forms to entire business plans and feasibility studies.

Rhona Anderson is the charity’s company secretary. “Typically we will work with groups that are seeking to build a new village hall or develop an existing project,” she explains. “Ours is a long-term involvement — we will provide support over years and years. But it’s a two-way process — we have a social research arm, and over time we aim to gather their story for a case study.” She continues: “We’ll also hold events to bring people together, and we’ll bring experts in to discuss topics such as energy use.”

With her background in the university world, she was used to the complexity of academic software; she found that SurveyMonkey and its ilk weren’t up to the sort of work required. FluidSurveys is easy to use and extremely powerful in terms of its analytics, and it is flexible for the end user. It’s web based — users can complete the survey by going to a specific URL, which can be password protected or given various other access restrictions. But you can also use it to process and analyse traditional printed survey forms, which is what Anderson’s charity does in the main. It supports multiple languages, a key requirement for many organisations.

Anderson is passionate about this software’s value to charitable, not-for-profit organisations. “I’m sure that there are so many more charities that need research to survive,” she says. “FluidSurveys can help."

As it was, TechSoup Global's partner CTX also provided the Microsoft Office and Windows foundations required to run a modern, efficient small office. Anderson would heartily recommend that other charities look for donations from the programme, and particularly cites the technical support offered.