How to get Microsoft Office 365 for Nonprofit (NFP) and Charitable Organisations for free (or near free)

How to get Microsoft Office 365 for NFP and Charitable Organizations for Free

If your organisation is registered as a Nonprofit (NFP) or Charitable Organisation then you may have access to Microsoft’s Office 365 suite of products and services at either no cost, or a very low cost.

Simply being registered with the Australian Tax Office as an NFP is not sufficient to meeting Microsoft’s criteria in this case. There are additional requirements to be met including your Non-profit Mission, which must “…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”

There are other criteria to be met, but what’s clear from this official Microsoft wording is Microsoft’s intention when it comes to who should have access to free or heavily discounted Office 365 pricing.

Getting Started

The first step is to formally confirm with Microsoft that your organisation will qualify for NFP Office 365 pricing. The easiest way to do this is to sign up for the free trial of the Office 365 Nonprofit E3 plan. During the free trial period Microsoft will validate your organisation and either approve or deny your access to NFP pricing. Assuming you receive approval you can then choose to move to any of the four available plans.

Plans and Pricing

Assuming that your organisation does meet Microsoft’s criteria to receive Microsoft Office for Nonprofit pricing, there are four plans available to choose from. Each plan varies in which Office 365 products and services it includes.

All four plans include the cloud based Office 365 services from Microsoft, including Exchange Online for your email, and SharePoint Online for document management and team collaboration. For organisations looking to ‘move to the cloud’, this is ideal.

In addition, the two paid plans include Desktop Licensing, which allows you to install the latest versions of the Microsoft Office applications such as Word and Excel onto your computers. Even though you will need to pay a recurring subscription to access these plans, the amount is substantially reduced from the usual commercial pricing.

For all of the current Microsoft Office 365 NFP plans and pricing, visit the Microsoft Website.

Which Plan Should I Choose?

Given that both the Nonprofit Business Essentials and Nonprofit E1 plans are free, and will provide everything that you need to move your organisations email and team collaboration to the cloud, there really is no downside with the free plans.

Keep in mind though that Office 365 cloud services work best with the latest versions of the desktop applications such as Word and Outlook, so if your organisation is still running versions of Microsoft Office older than the 2013 version, you will need to upgrade before migrating to the cloud.

Paying a small monthly fee for either the Nonprofit Business Premium or Nonprofit E3 plan will give you everything that the free plans do, as well as always up to date versions of the desktop applications. If you currently have older versions of the Office applications installed, one of the paid Office 365 plans may be the way to go.

NB: At the risk of confusing things, as an NFP you may also be able to purchase your desktop licenses at a very low, once off cost from ConnectingUp.org, rather than needing one of the paid Office 365 plans. This is entirely separate to Office 365, and you’re probably best to call us for a chat if this is of interest. 

Next Steps

Once you have your free or heavily discounted Nonprofit Microsoft Office 365 licensing, you then need to do something with it. This will be different for every organisation, but will most likely include one or more of the following:

  • Migrate your existing email to the Office 365 cloud
  • Deploy the latest Microsoft Office desktop applications to your computers (Word, Outlook, etc)
  • Establish a team intranet site using SharePoint Online

Microsoft Office 365 can provide your Nonprofit organisation with some extremely powerful tools for an extremely small investment. If you’re not already using Microsoft Office 365 in your NFP, you should be.

 

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When not looking at ways to use technology to create a competitive advantage for his clients and build better businesses, Ben is a husband, busy father of boys, avid gardener, and keen runner and cyclist.

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