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How Microsoft Office 365 Can Help Propel Your Nonprofit

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As a nonprofit interested in tech, you’ve probably heard the term Microsoft Office 365 more than once. Whether you’re familiar with it or not, Microsoft Office 365 is a key tool for nonprofits, allowing the full capabilities of installed software, as well as the collaborative, on and offline accessibility of the cloud.

To help us showcase how your nonprofit can benefit from Office 365, we got together with a few partners from Microsoft Canada, Canadian Cancer Society and MessageOps to hold a webinar. This blog post summarizes the key takeaways from the webinar, including:

  • What is Microsoft Office 365?
  • Case Study: How Canadian Cancer Society uses Office 365
  • Tips and tools for Microsoft Office 365 migration

You can also check out the webinar on our YouTube channel and access the slides on SlideShare.

What is Office 365 for nonprofits?

With every new technology there comes complexity, resulting in indecision and reduced productivity. When nonprofits, such as your organization, aren’t able to prioritize technology due to lack of time or understanding, it can slow down efforts and take a toll on your mission activities. 

Some of the most common challenges nonprofits face include:

  • Lack of time or money for large IT investments
  • Staff, volunteers and Board members using different devices and version levels, resulting in difficulty accessing your organization’s latest files
  • Team is spread out across several locations 
  • Limited folks or resources in the nonprofit to manage the technology

All of these challenges are addressed by Microsoft Canada when a nonprofit is looking to employ Office 365. At the core, Office 365 includes: web conferencing and HD video, business class email, contact and calendars, file storage and sharing and office web apps. Qualified Canadian nonprofits are eligible to receive these services as a donation. If further services are needed they can be purchased for a small fee. These rich applications are connected to Microsoft Cloud and are always available and up-to-date. 

Choosing the Right Plan for Your Nonprofit

There are a number of Office 365 options available for your nonprofit, so select the option that will best suit your organization’s needs.

To get started with Office 365, visit Microsoft's Office 365 Nonprofit page for next steps.

If there are any qualms about security, you’ll be happy to know that Microsoft Office 365 is engineered to the highest standards. Office 365 is also trusted by thousands of Canadian organizations across all sectors (including healthcare and financial services). If you have more questions in this area, you can review the Office 354 Trust Center materials for a wealth of information describing the numerous controls and safeguards in place.

Case Study: How Canadian Cancer Society uses Office 365

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is a national community-based organization of volunteers, whose mission is “the eradication of cancer and to enhance people’s lives living with cancer”. With over 65,000 volunteers and 32 community offices in Ontario alone, CCS needed a way to connect their volunteers and offices across the nation. CCS also found that over the past few years fundraising revenues were not always where they’d like them to be, meaning they needed to do more with less, which many nonprofits are familiar with. This led CCS to begin their Microsoft Office 365 journey in 2012.

Since then, CCS has adopted the following Office 365 services:

By adopting Office 365, CCS has found the following results:

  • Communication and collaboration efforts increased tremendously between CCS offices across the nation
  • Cloud services became a core aspect of their business operations
  • Projected cost savings of $350,000 over 3 years through reduced operating costs

While implementing Office 365 for your nonprofit, CCS recommends keeping the following points in mind:

  • Communication is key - Non-technical communication should be done frequently across multiple channels 
  • Recruit tech champions, both at the staff and executive levels
  • Roll out Office 365 in stages if possible
  • Be ready to support the business - this can be done via FAQ sessions, videos, Lunch and Learns, etc.
  • Showcase the value of Office 365 to your staff
  • Choose the right vendor/partner to help with your implementation

Migration to Office 365 and Putting O365 to Use

Once you’re ready to migrate to Office 365, the task can seem daunting. That’s where an implementation specialist comes in. If you do not have an internal IT department or dedicated IT staff, it’s best for you to work with a vendor/partner to assist with your implementation. There are a number of organizations who can provide this service, so be sure to look for a  Microsoft recommended partner to find the best fit for your nonprofit.

If your nonprofit is looking to implement Office 365 but still has more questions about the program, we recommend reviewing these resources:

We hope we’ve inspired you to transform your processes with Office 365, so you can focus on what you do best - making our world a better place.