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Office 365 Nonprofit is available for charities and nonprofits in Canada!

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This post was originally written in September 2013 and has been updated in September 2017 to reflect Microsoft's latest changes to Office 365 Nonprofits.

Would you like to be able to access email and files on the go, work with staff at different locations, and keep your IT costs down? Good news - Office 365, one of the leading solutions for bringing your back office to the cloud, have donated and discounted plans for nonprofits and charities in Canada.

Office 365 Nonprofit is a cloud application that provides you and your staff with web-based access to familiar Office applications, plus professional email, instant messaging, calendar, video conferencing, and access to your documents from anywhere. Microsoft has donated and discounted a range of subscription plans, so no matter how big or small your organization you can find an affordable plan that meets your needs.

To help your nonprofit learn more about Office 365 Nonprofit, here are some answers to common Office 365 questions:

  1. Is Office 365 Nonprofit right for my organization?
  2. What is the difference between Business and Enterprise?
  3. What programs are included in Office 365 Nonprofit?
  4. Is my organization eligible for Office 365 Nonprofit?
  5. How does my organization access Office 365 Nonprofit?
  6. How do I switch to Office 365's donated/free plan(s)?
  7. Does this impact the existing Microsoft software donations program at TechSoup Canada?
  8. What is the status of my Office 365 application?

1. Is Office 365 Nonprofit right for my organization?

To learn more about Office 365’s capabilities and to determine which subscription plan is best for your organization, you can read our article What You Need to Know About Microsoft Office 365 Nonprofits and the recap of our How Office 365 Can Help Propel Your Nonprofit webinar.

Strapped for time? Here’s a short intro from Microsoft on Office 365.

2. Which Office 365 plan should I choose?

Office 365 Nonprofit offers several different plans with different costs and features. Plans range from accommodating up to 300 users while others support unlimited users.

For a detailed comparison between Office 365 Nonprofit plans, see Microsoft's Office 365 Nonprofit website for more details.

3. What programs are included in Office 365 Nonprofit?

All Office 365 Nonprofit plans include include Office web apps, Outlook web app, and services such as OneDrive and Sharepoint. Some Office 365 Nonprofit plans also allow users to download and install Office Suite desktop applications on their devices.

For a full list of features, see Microsoft’s Office 365 Nonprofit website for more details.

4. Is my organization eligible for Office 365 Nonprofits?

To be eligible for Office 365 Nonprofits, you must meet all three of Microsoft’s eligibility criteria:

  1. Hold recognized, legal nonprofit status as defined in Canada.
    Canadian Charities registered with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), Canadian Federal Non-profits registered with Industry Canada, or Canadian Provincial Non-profits registered with their corresponding provinces or territories. 
  2. Meet Microsoft’s criteria for eligible organization activities.
    To see the full list of ineligible organizations, please see Microsoft’s eligibility guidelines.
  3. Attest to Microsoft's anti-discrimination policy.

5. How does my organization access Office 365 Nonprofit?

To get access to Office 365, you’ll need to register with Microsoft Philanthropies and have your account validated by TechSoup Canada:

  1. Go to Microsoft Philanthropies’ Nonprofit Portal page, select ‘Canada’, and click ‘Continue’.

    Screenshot: Welcome screen

  2. Review Microsoft’s Anti-Discrimination Policy, and if you agree, click ‘Continue’.

    Screenshot: Anti-Discrimination Policy

  3. Fill in your organization’s information, and click ‘Next’.

    Screenshot: About your org

  4. Enter your organization’s address, and click ‘Next’.

    Screenshot: Org Address

  5. Select your registration type and enter the legal identifier for that type (i.e. if you select “charity number”, then your legal identifier will look something like this: 123456789RR0001). Once you’ve added your registration type, click ‘Next’.

    Screenshot: Registration type

  6. Create your Microsoft Nonprofit Portal account. This is used to access Microsoft Cloud Donations, such as Office 365 Nonprofits. You can also use this account to check the status of your Office 365 application.
    Screenshot: Create MS Nonprofit Portal Account
  7. Create your user ID. This will be used to sign into your Office 365 account. If your organization has its own custom domain that you want to use instead of the default, you can change this later in Office 365 Admin Portal.

    NOTE: The checkbox “Microsoft Partners may contact me with information about their products, services and events” is us :) ! Use this checkbox to opt into updates from TechSoup Canada, including the Microsoft Software Donations program.

    Screenshot: Create User ID

  8. Once you create your account, you’ll need to complete a CAPTCHA to verify that you are indeed, human.

    Screenshot: CAPTCHA

  9. And that’s it! Now all you need to do is wait to receive an email from Microsoft with your eligibility results. If you are eligible, the email will include a link to the Microsoft Nonprofit Portal to review the nonprofit offers.

Please note that the validation process can take up to 20 business days after submitting your application. While you wait for eligibility validation, you can view your application status by logging into your Microsoft Nonprofit Portal account. If you have questions throughout this process, please contact Microsoft Philanthropies directly.

6. How do I switch to Office 365's donated/free plans?

Once you receive your email approval from Microsoft,

You'll need to:
  1. Login to Office 365 and click on the Admin icon.
  2. On the left hand menu, look for Purchase Services and click on it.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page, look for Office 365 Nonprofit E1, and click “Buy Now".

  4. Select number of user licenses (choose more than you’ll use), and click “Check out now”.
  5. Click “Check out” ...
  6. Click “Check out” again!
  7. Click “Next”.
  8. Click the checkbox, read the corresponding agreement, enter your name as it's displayed above, and click “Next”.

  9. Click “Continue”.
  10. Wait up to 30 minutes for the license to be installed on the account!

  11. Navigate to Admin -> Users -> Active Users and change all active license from E3 to “Microsoft Office 365 E1 Plan”.

  12. Navigate to Admin -> Billing -> Subscriptions and CANCEL the "Office 365 Nonprofit E3 Trial”.

And that’s it! Your nonprofit is now on the donated Office 365 Enterprise E1 plan for Nonprofits.

7. Does this impact the existing Microsoft software donations program at TechSoup Canada?

Nope! The Microsoft software donations program has not changed, nor has your cycle or allotment. If your organization is eligible for Microsoft, you can continue requesting Microsoft donations as before. See our Microsoft FAQ to learn more about how the program works.

8. What is the status of my Office 365 application?

To view your Office 365 application status, log into your Microsoft Nonprofit Portal account. If you have questions about your application or the Office 365 Nonprofit process, please contact Microsoft Philanthropies directly.


Office 365 for Non-Profits vs Office 365 P1 plan

Our foundation ( 9 decentralized users) have been using Office 365 for Small Businesses P1 for almost a year on a commercial basis not knowing about Office 365 for Non-Profits. One of our IT challenges is that among the nine users, no two are exactly the same in terms of PC vs Mac, version of Windows, version of Office on their respective desktops etc etc. I have been evaluating the benefits of up-scaling to the P2 level as it includes the access to the latest full desktop Office Suite (either PC or Mac) and therefore all of us could at least be on the same generation of Office software. However I have just now discovered both Office 365 for Non-Profits, and TechSoup Canada and I have a dilemma. I have not been able to find a clear comparison between what comes with the Non-Profit version of Office 365 vs the commercial P1 plan for Small Business, let alone how the upgraded P2 version compares. Help? Terry Bolton

Another option for you

This may be too late, but here's what I learned from Microsoft this past summer...

The Px plans and the Ex plans are configured differently on Microsoft's servers.  If you use a Px plan, you have to use Microsoft's DNS servers.  The Ex plans don't require that.

Also, if you're on a Px plan and grow past 25 users/mailboxes, you will need to go through an Exchange migration project.  It's not as simple as just changing the licensing, and having Microsoft do it.  With the Ex plans, you can continue to add people as needed.

It looks like you could get the E1 plan for $0, and add the Office 365 Pro Plus for $2/user. 

Hi Terry, Great questions!

Hi Terry,

Great questions! A few things:

1) The nonprofit and commercial offerings are the exactly same product. "Office 365 for Nonprofits" is simply a donation/discount of the commercial offering. 

2) Here is our comparison of P1 vs P2... this may be too high level for where you are at but I hope it helps (you will need to scroll down to the bottom to see the chart):

3) P1 and P2 donations/discounts for nonprofits are in the works but actually not currently available as of the writing of this post. They are expected to be coming soon but I do not have any details on the exact dates.

Hope this helps,


Community Engagement Manager, TechSoup Canada

Office 365 Eligibility

Do you have any information on how eligibility is determined for Office 365? I'm just wondering in terms of what information we would need and how long it would take etc. Nathaniel Rand Bedford Baptist Church

Office 365 Eligibility

Hi Nathaniel,

Microsoft's eligibility information is available on their website here: Also, Office 365 for Nonprofits is part of Microsoft's recent expansion of eligibility to faith-based organizations:

The process of determining eligibility for Office 365 will be similar to the qualification process for our donations program in terms of what documentation is needed (it's a bit different for charities vs. nonprofits). Here's some more info on this:

In terms of timelines, to be honest it's very early days yet so we're still figuring that out. I'd like to say 1-2 weeks but I would allow for longer since this is such a new program.

I hope that helps! If you have any further questions, feel free to let me know or contact us directly (



Community Engagement Manager, TechSoup Canada

Sport Organisations

This is great as it's a product I've considered trying but looking at the eligibility requirements it appears that we may be ineligible. "Fund-raising events such as luncheons, dinners, walks, runs, or sports tournaments;" I think it's the last 2 words that disqualified us from MS products through Techsoup until they changed their requirements about 2 years ago as we're a sport organisation. They also currently require participants to be charities, though, I think in the USA that is the equivalent to a non-profit in Canada. So I'm curious, do you think The OSA would be eligible? Tom

Sports eligibility

Hi Tom,

The requirements change that happened 2 years ago to open to sports organizations still stand, and also apply to Office 365. I can't say anything about your eligibility specifically - you would need to sign up for the free trial and go through the validation process to confirm anything for your organization. But the eligibility for our Microsoft donations program and Office 365 are basically the same.

Also, re. being "recognized as a charitable organization in your country": in Canada that covers both charities and nonprofits (for the Microsoft program, anyway). 

Hope that helps!


Community Engagement Manager, TechSoup Canada

We've been using Office 365 since Beta.

We love the service and would love it more if we could reduce our costs by moving to the non profit program. I cannot however find a way to see if we can apply for it without going through a new trial account.. does anyone know what process would be best to take to try to get this transferred from an existing account?

Switching to Office 365 for Nonprofits

Hi Keven,

Great question! We had a few inquiries about this so we got clarification and have updated the blog post.

In your case, it sounds like you're on the commercial subscription. In order to switch to the nonprofit pricing you do have to go through a validation process, and the only way to do that is to sign up for the free trial on Microsoft's site. The good news is that the Office 365 for Nonprofits eligibility is almost identical to the Microsoft software donations program eligibility, so if you qualify for the one you'll likely qualify for the other.

Hope that helps; let me know if you have any more questions or if you get more insight on this process by going through it that we can share with others in your position.


Community Engagement Manager, TechSoup Canada

Randy Thornhill

Hello Samantha; Does software assurance entitle us to access Office 365 or is it seperate from installed products. Thanks. Randy

Software assurance

Hi Randy,

Software assurance is for installed products only, donated through the Microsoft software donations program at TechSoup Canada. It does not give you access to Office 365.

Hope that helps!


Office 365 Subscription Application

We are already approved for Microsoft products and are on a trial version of Office 365 E3 plan (through Microsoft).

We would like to know pricing on the E3 and E1 plans. I am not sure if the pricing is on your website but I could not find it. If you need any further information, please let me know.


Samantha Williams

The Center for Epilepsy and Seizure Education


Office 365 Pricing

Hi Samantha,

Great to hear that you are already trying out Office 365 - definitely stay in touch and let us know how that goes!

In terms of pricing, Microsoft is running this program directly which is why you can't find it on our site. They have pricing info here:


Office 365

Hello There,

We are contacting you again regarding this program. We do not want to replace our organizations existing products until we know what pricing bracket we'll end up in. We are a very small organization and the $4.50 per month is not viable for us.

Would you be able to advise us?


No need to replace your products!

Hi Mae,

The $4.50/user is for the E3 plan. In your case, I would recommend that you start on the E1 plan (completely free) and link your existing Office products to your free E1 Office 365 plan.

If you have further questions or concerns, please feel free to email us at

Hope this helps!
Joyce Hsu, Communications Lead