UKSA, a not-for-profit organisation that provides training in watersports, became interested in cloud computing - the use of shared web-based applications - when it needed to develop a system that allowed it to track potential clients more easily.
"We had huge difficulties because we were getting new business leads from the internet, and we had too many enquiries to deal with," says Ciaran Rogers, the company's marketing and IT director. "We were spending too long recording and managing the results of the calls. We couldn't afford expensive database software and we were struggling to keep up with demand."
Rogers heard about a not-for-profit foundation run by software company Salesforce, which gives away licences to cloud computing services to charities. Initially, Rogers used the free software to develop a more efficient and cheaper system for storing and responding to requests for information. "We found the system we'd adopted had a lot of partner organisations with their own applications; they were encouraged to give them away to charities," he says.
"A lot of free products are available in cloud computing. They're usually compatible with one another, and they're easy to use."
Among the cloud applications he uses are Google's free online tools, including email and a calendar. The charity can now track all customers, donors and trust applications.