If you’re a non-profit, you know the constant challenge of trying to maximize your budget in order to do the most good for the least cost. Administrative functions get close scrutiny in particular, and there is a lot of pressure to “make do” with older versions of hardware and software.
But there’s good news: there are a number of ways you can stretch your administrative dollars while also having the latest software available for your staff’s use. Software giant Microsoft has long been a supporter of numerous non-profits around the world, and in 2013 began offering Office 365 as a charitable donation to a limited number of organizations that fit its criteria.
Benefits of Office 365
If your organization has been using a software suite like Office 2010, you know how it can boost your productivity. You’re also likely well aware how expensive purchasing software can be – and that’s probably kept you from upgrading to a newer version. Office 365 is different. In 2013, Microsoft began moving toward a subscription-based model for their software suites, and introduced Office 365. Not only is the initial cost for a year-long subscription significantly lower than a traditionally purchased software suite, some versions of Office 365 can be installed on up to five machines as well as on select mobile devices. In contrast, one copy of purchased software can be installed on one machine. That fact alone points up the cost savings.
Key benefits to moving your organization to Office 365 include:
- Hosted email
- Security and privacy
- Office Web Apps
- Document Sharing
- Web and voice conferencing
- Social networking
- 24/7 support
Moving to Office in the cloud can not only be a significant cost savings for your non-profit, it can also make managing your IT easier.
Versions of Office 365 Non-Profit
The staffing and tech needs of charities and non-profits vary widely, and Office 365 recognizes that, offering four versions of their non-profit software plan. Two of these plans are offered for free, while the other two are deeply discounted.
The two free donated plans are Office 365 Nonprofit Business Essentials and Office 365 Nonprofit E1. It’s important to note that these plan versions do not include the full installed version of Office, which includes Word, Excel, and Power Point, and are designed to be used by one machine. The two deeply discounted plans offer the desktop Office applications as well as allow for use by up to five machines with one subscription. These discounted plans are Office 365 Nonprofit Business Premium ($2 per user per month) and Office 365 Nonprofit E3 ($4.50 per user per month).
Is Your Non-Profit or Charity Eligible for Office 365 Non-Profit?
Microsoft is serious about providing donated software to non-profits and charities around the world. On average, they donate over $2 million a day in software to organizations that meet their criteria for donation. But your organization must carefully toe the line of what Microsoft deems worthy for donation. This criteria includes:
- Your organization must be non-profit and non-governmental, with recognized charitable status in your country (in the U.S. that means 501c(3) status), or must be a public library that will offer the software for on-premise general public use by its patrons.
- Your organizational mission must benefit your local community and can include but not be limited to:
- Providing relief to the poor
- Advancing education
- Improving social welfare
- Preserving culture
- Preserving or restoring the environment
- Promoting human rights
- Establishment of civil society
- Your organization must not discriminate based on race, color sex, national origin, religion, age, disability, gender identity or expression, marital status, pregnancy, sexual orientation, political affiliation, union membership, or veteran status other than as allowed by law.
Leveling the Playing Field for Non-Profits
The month of October marks a new fiscal year for many non-profits, and your organization may be looking at improving or upgrading your administrative functions. Because the rates for regular business versions of Office 365 can range from $5 to $20 per user per month, it’s easy to see how Microsoft’s charitable donation program levels the playing field for non-profits. By giving charitable organizations access to a powerful software suite for little to no cost, Microsoft helps these non-profits to make a difference in their communities.
Want to know more about Office 365 Nonprofit? Sign up for a free trial, which starts the process. Once your organization’s eligibility is confirmed by Microsoft, you’ll be able to assign users to the version of Office 365 Nonprofit that best fits your organization’s needs. Microsoft’s free or deeply discounted software suites may be the best investment your non-profit doesn’t have to make.