Many non-profit organisations would benefit from the use of software applications, including Microsoft 365, but lack the funding to implement them. Unfortunately, it isn’t common knowledge that Office 365 licenses are available specifically for nonprofits, with both discounted rates and donated license options.

So, ultimately, these nonprofits end up paying full-price for the software they need when there may be more affordable options available to them.


Availability of Donated or Discounted Office 365 Licenses

If you are involved in a nonprofit or charity organisation, you should ask your IT provider or do some research yourself about the availability of donated software, particularly through Microsoft’s software donation programme.

As Charity Digital explains, “Microsoft strives to make its software donation programme as accessible as possible to charitable organisations around the world. Globally, they give away more than $2 million worth of software to nonprofits every day.” – and Irish charities can avail of this programme.

Techsoup are also trying to get the word out to nonprofits about heavily discounted plans that are available for those seeking Premium services, including Office 365 Nonprofit Business Premium, which is available for as low as €2.50 monthly.


So, What’s Available? Discounted and Donated Plans

There are five different Office 365 Nonprofit plans to choose from and these are split between small and mid-sized nonprofits, and large nonprofits. Let’s take a look at some of the features of each of the plans:

Small and mid-sized nonprofits:

1. Office 365 Nonprofit Business Essentials (Donation)

This is a free plan that’s available for a maximum of 300 users. It includes business-class hosted email service (50 GB), supports teams with a collaboration hub and online meetings, and includes has file storage (1 TB) and sharing. It also comes with access to online versions of popular Office apps such as Word, Excel, and more.

It’s designed for small & mid-sized nonprofits that need email, cloud file-storage and sharing and web conferencing with instant messaging.

2. Office 365 Nonprofit Business Premium (€2.50 ex VAT, one-time purchase)

This plan costs just €2.50 per user (ex. VAT) and it’s available for a maximum of 300 users. It includes the same suite of services offered through the Nonprofit Business Essentials plan as well as subscriptions for Office desktop applications (Word, Excel, Outlook etc) for up to 5 PCs or MACs per user. Users can also use their Office applications on up to 5 tablets and 5 smartphones.

It’s designed for small & mid-sized nonprofits that need email, Office desktop apps, cloud file-storage and sharing and web conferencing with instant messaging.


Large nonprofit organisations:

There are 3 plans available for large nonprofits.

1. Office 365 Nonprofit E1 (Donation)

This is a free plan for up to 2,000 users. Users have the same suite of services as Office 365 NonProfit 365 Business Essentials, however, other than the jump in the maximum number of users, it also includes a corporate video portal for uploading and sharing videos across the company as well as compliance solutions that support archiving, auditing, mailbox and internal site search, legal hold capabilities and more services depending on your subscription type.

Office 365 applications for desktops are not included but the online versions of the apps are included.

2. Office 365 Nonprofit E3

This plan is available for unlimited users for just €4.40 ex. VAT as a one-time purchase. It includes everything that comes with the E1 plan however it also includes desktop applications, (for 5 PCs, MACs, tablets and smartphones), and unlimited personal cloud storage.

This plan also includes enterprise management of apps with Group Policy, Telemetry, Shared Computer, self-service Business Intelligence (BI) capabilities, and Information Protection.

3. Office 365 Nonprofit E5

Microsoft’s final plan for nonprofits is the E5 plan, which costs €13.80 ex VAT as a one-time purchase. With the E5 plan, users have the same suite of services as the E3 plan but it also comes with advanced security, analytics tools, PSTN conferencing, Cloud PBX, and advanced eDiscovery.


How Office 365 Can Improve Nonprofits

There are plenty of benefits of using Office 365 for charities, including better communication and workflows, data accessibility and security, improved productivity, and with the Nonprofit plans, more savings. In Microsoft’s own words:

Do more good and create more impact.

In terms of features that nonprofits can look out for, here are some of the highlights:

  • 24/7 Support: No matter which plans you’re using, Microsoft offers professional-level 24/7 technical support.
  • 99.9% Uptime: Every organisation needs to rely on their systems to be functioning properly. All of the Office 365 Nonprofit plans include a guaranteed 99.9% uptime, a financially-backed service level agreement.
  • Document Sharing and Storage: Tools to facilitate collaboration are essential for productivity. OneDrive gives you cloud storage, sharing and collaboration and organisations use SharePoint to create websites that can be used as a secure place to store, organise, share, and access information from any device, easily.
  • High-Definition Collaboration: Nonprofits thrive on collaboration and networking. Perform video calls, instant messaging, web conferencing, and voice calls with Teams.
  • Hosted Email: No matter where your staff is working, you can be sure they can access the information they need. Access your email, contacts, and shared calendars using Microsoft Exchange Online.
  • Office Web Apps: Open, view, and edit documents from your browser using Office Web Apps, and with certain plans, install the Office apps on all of your devices as well!
  • Security and Privacy: Nonprofits need to protect their data. With Office 365, nonprofits can rest assured that their data is kept safe with world-class data security and can even add security and privacy to mobile devices to protect your emails and other sensitive data.


What Are the Eligibility Criteria for Office 365 Nonprofit?

Eligibility requirements include organisations having a CHY number. That means, to receive Office 365 for Charities, organisations must have been granted Charitable Tax Exemption status.

This exemption status is granted by the Irish Revenue Commissioners. Microsoft also has five criteria that organisations must meet to be eligible for Office 365 for Nonprofit. They include:

  1. Meeting Organisation Eligibility
    Organisations must be non-governmental or nonprofit with legal recognition through their governing authority.
  2. Mission Eligibility
    Operations must also run on a for-profit basis utilising a mission that is beneficial to the local community. These benefits can include (but are 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
  3. User Eligibility
    Licenses are not intended for personal use or income generation. They are intended for paid nonprofit employees, as well as unpaid FTE (full-time equivalent) staff members. These individuals have fiduciary, operational, and managerial responsibilities daily at the organisation. Beneficiaries, members, and volunteers are not eligible.
  4. License Restrictions
    Organisations are not eligible and do not have permission to resell, share, or transfer nonprofit licenses under any circumstances.
  5. Non-Discrimination
    Organisations are not eligible for the Office 365 for charities program if they have a mission or policy of discrimination in compensation, hiring, programs, promotions, retirement, services, termination, training in place on the basis of age, color, expression, disability, gender identity, marital status, national origin, political affiliation, religion, sex, sexual orientation, union membership, or veteran status.The only exception to this policy is for religious organisations that are exempt from laws that prohibit such discrimination.


What steps must an organisation follow?

Since September 2017, there has been some changes to the steps needed for charities to access Office 365 (Enclude). The process for receiving Office 365 for your charity is as follows:

  1. Visit the Microsoft Philanthropies Nonprofit page and complete the registration process.
  2. You’ll receive a confirmation notice if your nonprofit is eligible for the programme. If you receive eligibility, the admin portal will display Office 365 Nonprofit offers to you.
  3. In the admin portal, click on the License Management tab. You can assign users from your staff to the Office 365 Nonprofit offers you would like to use in your organisation.
  4. Make sure you’re using any donated Business Essentials and E1 offers available to you.


For More Information

If you’d like to receive more information about Office 365 for Nonprofits or have additional questions, get in touch with us today at or call us on (01) 886 9130.