This blog post is orginally written by Ginny Mies, Senior Content Developer at TechSoup. This post has been adapted and expanded for a Canadian audience by TechSoup Canada.
Is your staff spread across several locations? Do you have a limited budget for IT support like installations and upgrades? Do your staff and volunteers want to do their work on personal devices like smartphones or tablets? Are you tired of maintaining an in-house Exchange server? Then Microsoft Office 365 Nonprofit may be right for you!
Microsoft Office 365 Nonprofit allows you to have the full capabilities and secure environment of installed software along with the collaborative, anywhere, anytime availability of the cloud. If you have some questions about going completely online, especially if you're working with sensitive information, read on.
Eligible nonprofits and charities can receive donated and discounted Enterprise and Small Business versions of Office 365. All versions include powerful features that can help you run your nonprofit more efficiently, securely, and less expensively. And because nonprofits come in different sizes and have diverse technology needs, there are four plans to choose from.
Benefits of Office 365
Office 365 frees up IT staff time by making email maintenance, software upgrades, and insecure information storage a thing of the past. It also deepens the word processing, data analysis, communication, and productivity features of the traditional Office suite that your staff is already familiar with.
Here are some of its key benefits.
- Hosted email.
With Microsoft Exchange Online, you no longer need to manage an in-house Exchange server or set up a VPN or remote access to your office. You can access your email, shared calendars, and contacts from your PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet. Office 365 provides each user with 25 GB of mailbox storage with attachments up to 25 MB each.
- Security and privacy.
Along with built-in spam and malware protection for your email, your data will be protected in the cloud. If your organization deals with sensitive information, be assured that Office 365 is compliant with industry standards such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and FISMA (The Federal Information Security Management Act). Your IT staff can manage and customize your organization's security options in a single console (a web-based admin center).
- Office Web Apps.
You're on your way home from the office and realize that you forgot to update an important document. What do you do? With Office Web Apps, you can open, view, and edit documents right from your browser (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, or Safari) on your home computer or mobile device. Your staff can use Office 365 on up to five of their own devices, giving them the flexibility to work wherever and whenever they need to.
- Document sharing.
Easily share documents with your colleagues with SharePoint Online, Microsoft's cloud-based file-sharing tool. You can even edit documents simultaneously with others, saving you the time and confusion of emailing documents back and forth.
- Web and Voice Conferencing. Skype for Business is an all-in-one tool for video calls, web conferencing, instant messaging, and voice calls. With high-definition (HD) video conferencing, you can meet and collaborate with out-of-office staff and volunteers. Skype for Business includes a real-time note-taking feature so you can keep track of ideas and notes from your meetings.
- Social Networking. All versions of Office 365 Nonprofit come with Yammer, Microsoft's internal social network for organizations. Yammer can help you connect, collaborate, and share with volunteers, staff, and stakeholders. For more information, watch this archive of our webinar Engage Volunteers with Yammer.
- Support 24/7. Don't have on-call IT staff? Office 365 provides 24/7 professional-level support for issues ranging from critical to mild (depending on the plan your organization has)
Choosing the Right Office 365 Nonprofit Plan
Nonprofits and charities vary in staffing and technical needs, so there isn't a "one-size-fits-all" Office 365 plan. Microsoft offers two fully donated plans and three deeply discounted plans.
The two free donated plans are:
- Office 365 Nonprofit Business Essentials
- Office 365 Nonprofit E1
These free plans do not include the full installed version of Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.). To supplement these free Office 365 plans, you can request the latest version of Office through TechSoup. Office Standard 2016 is available to eligible nonprofits for an admin fee of $39, and Office Professional Plus 2016 is available for an admin fee of $52. Both will work seamlessly with Office 365.
Microsoft also offers three discounted paid plans to eligible organizations. These plans offer the desktop Office applications and other additional features. Your staff can use the installed versions of the Office applications on up to five devices per user. The discounted plans are:
- Office 365 Nonprofit Business Premium ($2.40 CAD per user per month)
- Office 365 Nonprofit E3 ($5.70 CAD per user per month)
- Office 365 Nonprofit E5 ($12.60 CAD per user per month)
For a more detailed comparison of Office 365 plans, please visit Microsoft's Office 365 Nonprofit website.
Migration and Maintenance
Office 365 is designed to make IT tasks as simple as possible so you can focus on your organization's mission. For nonprofits without IT staff, the Office 365 admin portal lets accidental techies configure settings and customize user licenses, permissions, and services according to their staff's needs. Visit deploy.office.com for detailed Office 365 migration support.
How to Get Office 365
To get access to Office 365, you’ll need to register with Microsoft Philanthropies and have your account validated by TechSoup Canada. For step-by-step instructions on how to get started, check out our Office 365 FAQ page!