A Knowledge Transfer Partnership between Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) and the University of Reading developed a new IT infrastructure for the association - streamlining support, improving service and attracting sponsorship and new members.

Impacts

  • Website, database and infrastructure development have revolutionised how RDA operates, improving its communication and business performance, and increasing its visibility.
  • Significant cost savings have been made - for example, over 21,000 documents have been downloaded from the website, reducing printing and postage costs by over £25,000 per year.
  • Improved communication systems has strengthened RDA National Office's support for its Member Groups, enabling RDA to record and contact all its members rather than solely the designated Group Leader. As a result members feel more connected to the association, encouraging even greater commitment.
  • A more modern image has been established, attracting younger volunteers and helping RDA to compete strongly with other major charities for supporters and donations.
  • The KTP project won the 2009 Award for the Best ESRC Funded Partnership and the Award for the Best Partnership in North West England.

"With the assistance of the University of Reading this KTP has delivered significant improvements to RDA's IT and data management systems, allowing a step-change in the organisation's communications." (Ed Bracher, Chief Executive, Riding for the Disabled)

About the research

Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) is a voluntary organisation dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities, by providing opportunities for riding and carriage driving. RDA is a federation of over 500 Member Groups, each of which is a separately-registered charity, in total comprising over 18,000 volunteers.

With a growing membership, RDA needed to update its working practices and communication procedures in order to provide proper support to each Member Group. A Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University of Reading aimed to design and implement an information technology (IT) infrastructure that would modernise the organisation and improve efficiency. The project also needed to consider cultural changes arising from the new working practices and communication procedures.

Through the far-reaching work, RDA has been transformed from a largely 'manual' organisation to an efficient IT-based enterprise, increasing its competitiveness and improving the quality of service it delivers.