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Your Guide to Microsoft Donations Through TechSoup

A comprehensive tour of how your nonprofit can maximize the benefits of Microsoft's donation program through TechSoup

A button labeled "Charity" on a computer keyboard 
Elliot Harmon and Matthew Palmer - July 27, 2011
The Microsoft Software Donation Program for nonprofits and public libraries is one of TechSoup's most popular resources. But many organizations don't take full advantage of everything the Microsoft donation program has to offer. By understanding Microsoft's donation limits and anticipating your nonprofit's future technology needs, you can be sure to maximize your benefit through the program. Learn how in this article.

The Microsoft Software Donation Program for nonprofits and public libraries is one of TechSoup's most popular resources. Hundreds of organizations request Microsoft product donations every day, but unfortunately, many don't take full advantage of everything the Microsoft donation program has to offer. By understanding Microsoft's donation limits and anticipating your nonprofit's future technology needs, you can be sure to maximize your benefit through the program.

In this article, we'll outline Microsoft's eligibility requirements and donation limits and offer some tips on how to get more out of your donation by summarizing the rights and privileges that come with Microsoft's Software Assurance program. We'll also provide advice on technology planning so that you can make donation requests in line with your organization's present and future needs.

Is My Organization Eligible for Microsoft Donations?

Microsoft allows certain types of nonprofits and public libraries to request product donations. For information about which organizations are eligible, see the Microsoft eligibility requirements and restrictions (also listed at the end of each Microsoft product description).

If you're not sure whether your organization is eligible, you can find out by using the handy eligibility quiz. In addition, for all donation requests, TechSoup verifies that your organization type is eligible for the donation after you have added products to your cart. You can use this process to determine your eligibility even if you aren't ready to make a donation request.

Of course, donations are still contingent on TechSoup Client Services qualifying your organization. For more information, see Register and Qualify at the Getting Started with TechSoup Product Donations page.

Understanding Microsoft's Donation Limits

If your organization is eligible to receive Microsoft donations, you may request software from up to 10 title groups and up to 50 user licenses per group. You can also request up to 5 server licenses in total in every two-year cycle. This two-year cycle is based on your TechSoup cycle date, which can be found on your organization's profile page or My Microsoft Donation Center page, which is accessible through a link on the authorized agents' Member Profile pages. Here you will also see how much of your total allotment is still available

For donation purposes, Microsoft defines a title group as functionally similar or interchangeable products. They may vary by language, edition (e.g. "Standard" and "Professional"), version, or CPU version. For example:

  • If you request Exchange Server 2010 Standard Edition and 50 User Client Access Licenses (CALs), that counts as two of your ten titles, and one server product out of five.
  • Similarly, different languages of the same product are part of the same title group. Requesting 10 licenses each of Office Professional 2010 English, Office Standard 2010 French, and Office 2011 Standard for Mac Spanish would count as 30 against your 50 licenses for the Office products' title group, but they would all count as only one of the ten title groups allowed.

You can make as many Microsoft donation requests as your tech planning requires, as long as the sum of your requests does not exceed 10 software title groups and 50 licenses per group, with server products not exceeding five in total in this two-year cycle. At the end of the two-year cycle, your limits reset. You cannot carry over unused titles or licenses from one cycle to the next. For more details and to view the latest title groups document, visit our Microsoft Donation Program Eligibility and Allotments page.

Take Full Advantage of Each Microsoft Request

To find out how much you can request, log into your My Microsoft Donation Center and check what Microsoft software you've already received and are still eligible for in your two-year cycle.

For example, if you requested donations from six Microsoft title groups but only 20 licenses of each in your first request of the two-year cycle, you can request up to 30 additional licenses of a product within each of those title groups at any time until the end of your two-year cycle. You would also be eligible to request donations for four other title groups, up to 50 licenses each.

For server products and licenses, read the product descriptions very carefully to make sure that you're requesting the correct number and type of licenses. For more information, see An Introduction to Microsoft Server and Client Licensing.

Planning Ahead to Maximize Your Donation

Much like preparing finances for your annual budget or for grant proposals, planning for technology should be at least an annual exercise. It's good to plan thoroughly by taking an inventory of your organization's current and future tech needs.

Thinking ahead over the next 24 months, here are some questions to consider as you finish your tech planning:

  • Will you be updating your website?
  • Will you be adding staff?
    • Make sure you have enough CALs to let new staff access your Microsoft server and enough licenses for essentials like Microsoft Office.
  • Are you holding a fundraiser or event?
  • Will you be buying new computers?
    • To make sure your existing computers have the same versions of software as the new computers, consider upgrading to the latest versions of Office and Windows.

Taking Full Advantage of Microsoft Software Assurance

Do you put off requesting Microsoft software because you think it will soon become outdated? Are you waiting until you can have the very latest version? Software Assurance is a benefit offered by Microsoft that allows you to receive complimentary upgrades on most Microsoft software anytime within two years of your initial request from TechSoup. With the Microsoft Software Assurance program, you can:

  • Receive complimentary upgrades for two years on most Microsoft software that you receive from TechSoup (there will be a one-time shipping cost for some products if you wish to receive media)
  • Request backup CDs or replace missing discs
  • Access online product training
  • Obtain special licenses for using some products on your home computer

Most Microsoft products available through TechSoup include Software Assurance — look for the words "Includes Software Assurance" in the product name.

You can only use Software Assurance to obtain upgrades that were released within two years of the date you originally requested the software from TechSoup. You can still request free upgrades after your Software Assurance has expired, but you can only upgrade to versions that were released before the expiration. In addition, Software Assurance upgrade requests must be obtained directly from Microsoft and do not count against your TechSoup limit of 10 title groups and 50 licenses per group.

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