Microsoft Office 365 for Nonprofit Organizations

If you’re a charitable organization, you are probably familiar with the concept of receiving donations for Microsoft software via Techsoup – one of the most common ways for nonprofits to acquire business software at low costs. The company is now extending the nonprofit advantage into its Office 365 cloud-based solutions, recently announcing that certain Office 365 packages are now available to qualifying charitable organizations at no cost. This special nonprofit licensing has existed for about a year, but it was not publicized until September 2013, when Microsoft modified the application process by which nonprofit organizations are qualified for the offer. Previously, organizations had to submit an application via a Microsoft partner and wait a few weeks for a decision. Now, they can directly complete the process on Microsoft’s website, without going through a third party. Let’s discuss the new process and requirements in details.

Who Qualifies for Office 365 for Nonprofit Organizations?*

What organizations are classified as a “charitable organization” in order to receive Office 365 as a donation (Enterprise E1 version)? There are a few criteria:

    • First, your organization must run as a charitable organization filed under the IRS’ 501 (c) 3 category.
    • Second, your charitable organization must have a mission to benefit the local community, for example:
    1. Providing relief to the poor
    2. Advancing education
    3. Improving social welfare
    4. Preserving culture
    5. Preserving or restoring the environment
    6. Promoting human rights
    7. Establishment of civil society
    • Third, you cannot be a government organization or agency, an educational institution (school/college/university), or a trade association.
    • Note that religious organizations are eligible for nonprofit pricing; however, they are only authorized to purchase the Enterprise E3 level subscription for Office 365 and not able to receive Office 365 as a donation.

Office 365 for Nonprofits – The Application Process

    • Step 1: Submitting an application: To start the Microsoft Office 365 for Nonprofits application, all you have to do is signing up for a free 30-day trial of “Office 365 Enterprise E3 for Nonprofits,” regardless of which nonprofit versions you’re applying for (E1 or E3). This will give you licenses all the full features of Office 365 Enterprise to begin with.
    • Step 2: Waiting for verification: While you explore your trial experience, Microsoft begins the verification process on the back-end to verify your organization’s status based on the name and address you entered during the trial setup. Depending on Microsoft’s decision, you’ll be notified whether you can receive the E1 version as a donation or purchase the E3 version for a discounted price.

Office 365 for Nonprofit – Enterprise E3: If your organization is not qualified for the E1 version, you will have the option to send Microsoft any supporting documents that may help reverse their decision, such as your actual 501 (c) 3 certificate. Another alternative is to acquire the Office 365 Enterprise E3 plan at a discounted nonprofit pricing for $4.50 per user per month (originally it was $5 per user). The E3 plan has the same features as the E1 does, plus Advanced Email and Voice, eDiscovery, and Business Intelligence.

Office 365 for Nonprofit – Enterprise E1:The Enterprise E1 plan is free and offered as a donation to eligible nonprofits. The Small Business Premium plans are not yet available for nonprofit pricing, but the free Enterprise E1 plan offers organizations that are interested in a Small Business plan the same functionality as the Small Business plan, plus other useful features.

Learn more about the features of the Nonprofit Enterprise plans – E1 and E3 here.

    • Step 3: Implementation and benefits: Leveraging the advantage of nonprofit pricing for Office 365 can significantly reduce your IT expenses for your organization’s business needs, and at the same time, help you jumpstart easy-to-manage, affordable cloud-based solutions if your organization is not familiar with the cloud. Additional benefits include remote collaboration with Lync and SharePoint as well as the worry-free security and back-up features.

If your organization has been using Office 365 for Nonprofits and would like more details about the changes in the qualification process, let us know. If you are not aware of this Microsoft offer for nonprofits, we can help you get started. Learn about our Office 365 services offerings here.


*Who Qualifies for Office 365 for Nonprofit Organizations?

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