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Are You Ready for Microsoft Office 365 for Nonprofits?

Find out if your organization can benefit from moving to Office in the cloud

Office 365 Home 
Ginny Mies - September 10, 2013
Is your staff spread across several locations? Do you have a limited budget for IT support like installations and upgrades? Are your staff and volunteers requesting to work from personal devices, such as their smartphones or tablets? Your nonprofit or charity might be ready to migrate to the cloud. But you might also have some trepidation about going completely online, especially if you're working with sensitive information. Microsoft Office 365 for Nonprofits allows you to have both: the full capabilities and secure environment of installed software with the collaborative, anywhere availability of the cloud.

Eligible nonprofits and charities can now receive donated and newly discounted versions of Office 365 tailored especially toward nonprofits. And because nonprofits come in different sizes and have diverse technology needs, there are four plans to choose from.

Benefits of Office 365

Office 365 deepens the word processing, data analysis, communication, and productivity features of Office that your staff is already familiar with. Here are some of its key benefits:

  • Office Web Apps. You're on your way home from the office and realize that you forgot to update an important document. What do you do? With Office Web Apps, you can open, view, and edit documents right from your browser (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, or Safari) on your home computer. Your staff can use Office 365 on up to five of their own devices, giving them the flexibility to work wherever and whenever they need to.
  • Hosted email. With Microsoft Exchange Online, you can access your email, shared calendars, and contacts from your PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet without having to set up a VPN or remote access to your office. Office 365 provides each user with 25 GB of mailbox storage with attachments of up to 25 MB each.
  • Document sharing. Easily share documents with your colleagues with SharePoint Online, which is like an online document repository in the cloud. You can even edit documents simultaneously with others, saving you precious time.
  • High-definition collaboration. Microsoft Lync Online is an all-in-one tool for video calls, web conferencing, instant messaging, and voice calls. With high-definition (HD) video conferencing, you can meet and collaborate with out-of-office staff and volunteers. Lync Online includes a real-time note-taking feature so you can keep track of ideas and notes from your meetings.
  • Security and privacy. Along with built-in spam and malware protection for email, Office 365 also lets you add security to mobile devices. Your IT staff can manage and customize your organization's security options in a single console (a web-based admin center). If your organization deals with sensitive information, your data will be protected in the cloud. Office 365 is compliant with industry standards including HIPAA, FISMA, BAA, and others.
  • Support 24/7. Don't have on-call IT staff? Office 365 provides 24/7 professional-level support for issues ranging from critical to mild (depending on the plan your organization has).

Office 365 Skydrive

Choosing the Right Plan

Nonprofits and charities vary in staffing and technical needs, so there isn't a "one-size-fits-all" Office 365 plan. There are two free donated plans:

  • Office 365 Small Business for Nonprofits
  • Office 365 Enterprise E1 for Nonprofits

The free donated plans do not include the full installed version of Office (which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.). To supplement these free Office 365 plans, you can request the latest version of Office through TechSoup. Office Standard 2013 is available to eligible nonprofits for an admin fee of $24, and Office Professional Plus 2013 is available for an admin fee of $32.

Eligible organizations can also upgrade to the discounted paid plans, which offer the desktop Office apps. With these plans, your staff can use Office apps on up to five devices per user. The discounted plans are:

  • Office 365 Small Business Premium for Nonprofits ($2 per user per month)
  • Office 365 Enterprise E3 for Nonprofits ($4.50 per user per month)

The Small Business plans are designed for smaller nonprofits with 1-10 users and no on-site IT staff. The Small Business Premium actually has a limit of 25 users. The Enterprise versions, on the other hand, are designed for organizations of all sizes that are running a server-client network, like Windows Server.

A Feature Comparison of the Plans

Features Office 365
Small Business for Nonprofits
Office 365
Small Business Premium for Nonprofits
Office 365 Enterprise E1 for Nonprofits Office 365 Enterprise E3 for Nonprofits
Price COMING SOON! COMING SOON! Free $4.50 per user per month
Subscription to desktop applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) for up to five PCs/Macs per user Not included X Not included X
Hosted email X X X X
Simple file sharing X X X
HD video conferencing and instant messaging X X X
Office Web Apps (for editing and viewing Office files in web browser) View attachments only X X X
Public website (without additional hosting fees) X X X
Office Mobile Apps (view and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents with Windows Phone) X
Intranet site for your teams X X
Active Directory integration: manage user credentials and permissions X X

Advanced email:

  • Archiving and legal hold capabilities
  • Data loss prevention
  • Information rights management
24/7 technical phone support X X X X

Migration and Maintenance

Office 365 is designed to make IT tasks as simple as possible so you can focus on your organization's mission. For nonprofits without IT staff, the Office 365 admin portal lets accidental techies configure settings and customize services according to their staff's needs. Visit for detailed Office 365 migration support.

How to Get Office 365

To find out if your organization is eligible to receive donated and discounted versions of Office 365, visit the Microsoft Office 365 for Nonprofits site.

TechSoup has developed a list of consultants experienced in helping nonprofits and charities understand whether Office 365 for Nonprofits is right for them. They can help you assess your current setup, help you migrate to Office 365, and provide ongoing support.

Nonprofit and non-governmental organizations must be recognized as charitable organizations in their respective countries in order to be eligible for Microsoft Nonprofit Programs. Eligible organizations will operate on a not-for-profit basis and have a mission to benefit the local community that could include, but is not 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