A lot of non-profits are missing out on a great opportunity: Microsoft will offer you much of Office365 for free or deeply discounted, depending on which edition you need. Office365 is always a bit of a moving target with different features in different packages changing on a regular basis, but as of this writing, here’s some of what you could be using completely for free:

  • Business class email, calendar, tasks, and contacts (see my post on the difference between Office365 email vs Outlook.com)
  • SharePoint Online
  • Skype for Business, including live broadcasting
  • Yammer, an enterprise social network
  • 1 TB of OneDrive for Business cloud storage for every user
  • Planner for project management tied with Office365 Groups
  • Online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote
  • An internal video portal (this seems like it will eventually merge with another app called Stream)
  • Microsoft Teams for persistent group chat

Pricing chart for non-profit editions of Office365

Pricing from the chart of non-profit options. These are substantially lower than commercial versions. (Canadian pricing)

That’s a lot, for free. In my opinion, getting business class email alone is worth a couple hours of your time getting things set up (depending on the size of your non-profit) and $0 in cost. As you add all of those other features, you are really starting to empower your non-profit to carry out your mission as effectively as possible. That’s what business technology should be about, after all – helping you do your job better – and that is particularly important when your job is to help others.

But it isn’t just the free features of Office which are noteworthy for non-profits. For significant discounts, you could also get:

  • Desktop apps for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, and OneNote.
  • Dynamics, Microsoft’s Customer Relationship Management software which is a fantastic way to keep track of your donors. I’m not sure yet exactly how this works with their new Dynamics 365, but there was a significant discount previously with Dynamics.

If you decide to sign up, and you should, the process they recommend is to sign up for the E3 trial and then your application as a non-profit would be processed before the trial is up. Check out the details and signup here.