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What You Need to Know About Microsoft Office 365 Nonprofit

Discover the benefits of moving to Office in the cloud

Screenshot of the new Office 365 on a tablet
Ginny Mies - May 27, 2016

Is your staff spread across several locations? Do you have a limited budget for IT support like installations and upgrades? Do your staff and volunteers want to do their work on personal devices like smartphones or tablets? Are you tired of maintaining an in-house Exchange server? Then Microsoft Office 365 Nonprofit may be right for you!

Microsoft Office 365 Nonprofit allows you to have the full capabilities and secure environment of installed software along with the collaborative, anywhere, anytime availability of the cloud. If you have some questions about going completely online, especially if you're working with sensitive information, read on.

Eligible nonprofits and charities can receive donated and discounted Enterprise and Small Business versions of Office 365. All versions include powerful features that can help you run your nonprofit more efficiently, securely, and less expensively. And because nonprofits come in different sizes and have diverse technology needs, there are five plans to choose from.

Benefits of Office 365

Office 365 frees up IT staff time by making email maintenance, software upgrades, and insecure information storage a thing of the past. It also deepens the word processing, data analysis, communication, and productivity features of the traditional Office suite that your staff is already familiar with.

Here are some of its key benefits.

  • Hosted email. With Microsoft Exchange Online, you no longer need to manage an in-house Exchange server or set up a VPN or remote access to your office. You can access your email, shared calendars, and contacts from your PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet. Office 365 provides each user with 25 GB of mailbox storage with attachments up to 25 MB each.
  • Security and privacy. Along with built-in spam and malware protection for your email, your data will be protected in the cloud. If your organization deals with sensitive information, be assured that Office 365 is compliant with industry standards such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and FISMA (The Federal Information Security Management Act). Your IT staff can manage and customize your organization's security options in a single console (a web-based admin center).
  • 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 or mobile device. 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.
  • Document sharing. Easily share documents with your colleagues with SharePoint Online, Microsoft's cloud-based file-sharing tool. You can even edit documents simultaneously with others, saving you the time and confusion of emailing documents back and forth.
  • Web and Voice Conferencing. Microsoft Skype for Business 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. Skype for Business includes a real-time note-taking feature so you can keep track of ideas and notes from your meetings.
  • Social Networking. All versions of Office 365 Nonprofit come with Yammer, Microsoft's internal social network for organizations. Yammer can help you connect, collaborate, and share with volunteers, staff, and stakeholders. For more information, watch this archive of our webinar, Engage Volunteers with Yammer.
  • 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).

Choosing the Right Office 365 Nonprofit Plan

Nonprofits and charities vary in staffing and technical needs, so there isn't a "one-size-fits-all" Office 365 plan. Microsoft offers two fully donated plans and three deeply discounted plans.

The two free donated plans are:

  • Office 365 Nonprofit Business Essentials
  • Office 365 Nonprofit E1

These free plans do not include the full installed version of Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.). To supplement these free Office 365 plans, you can request the latest version of Office through TechSoup. Office Standard is available to eligible nonprofits for an admin fee of $29, and Office Professional Plus is available for an admin fee of $40. Both will work seamlessly with the free Office 365 plans.

Microsoft also offers three discounted paid plans to eligible organizations. These plans offer the desktop Office applications and other additional features. Your staff can use the installed versions of the Office applications on up to five devices per user. The discounted plans are:

  • Office 365 Nonprofit Business Premium ($2 per user per month)
  • Office 365 Nonprofit E3 ($4.50 per user per month)
  • Office 365 Nonprofit E5 ($10 per user per month)

Please note that you can't install the Office applications from one of these discounted plans on the same device as Office products obtained through Volume Licensing. This applies to all Office products available as donations through TechSoup, including Skype for Business, Visio, and Project. You'll need to uninstall any Office products that you've received as donations through TechSoup before installing the applications provided through the discounted plans.

A Feature Comparison of the Office 365 Nonprofit Plans

FeaturesOffice 365 Nonprofit Business EssentialsOffice 365 Nonprofit Business PremiumOffice 365 Nonprofit E1Office 365 Nonprofit E3Office 365 Nonprofit E5
PriceFree$2.00 per user per monthFree$4.50 per user per month$10 per user per month
Number of usersUp to 300 usersUp to 300 usersUnlimited usersUnlimited usersUnlimited users
Subscription to desktop applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) for up to five PCs/Macs per userXX
(plus Microsoft Access)
(plus Microsoft Access)
Hosted emailXXXXX
File storage and sharing (1 TB storage per user)XXXXX
Online meetings, HD video conferencing, and instant messagingXXXXX
Online versions of Office (for editing and viewing Office files in web browsers)XXXXX
Office for Tablets and Smartphones (view and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents with iPad, iPhone, Android phones, Windows Phone, and Windows tablets)XXX
Intranet site for your teamsXXXXX
Active Directory integration: manage user credentials and permissionsXXX
24/7 technical phone supportXXXXX
Advanced security for your data that helps protect against unknown malware and viruses and provides better zero-day protection to safeguard your messaging systemX
Analytics tools for personal and organizational insights with Power BI and Delve AnalyticsX
PSTN conferencing to allow invitees to join Skype for Business meetings by dialing in from a landline or mobile phoneX
Cloud PBX for cloud-based call management to make, receive, and transfer calls across a wide range of devicesX
Advanced eDiscovery with Predictive Coding and Text AnalyticsX

Migration and Maintenance to Office 365

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 user licenses, permissions, and services according to their staff's needs.

Volume-licensed desktop versions of Microsoft Office requested through TechSoup are not compatible with retail or "click-to-run" versions of Office software, such as Office 365.

How to Get Office 365 Nonprofit

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

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

To determine if your organization is eligible to receive one of the Office 365 Nonprofit offers, see Microsoft's Who's Eligible.

Image: Microsoft

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