Last Updated on 8th April 2021
This article is part 4 in our Office 365 for Charities series.
Office 365 is a Cloud based product that can provide your organisation with email, Microsoft Office and other business applications on a subscription basis. In most cases, if you’re a charity or non-profit organisation you can claim your Office 365 licensing as a donation from Microsoft. The donation will give you free or highly discounted licensing.
There are different Office 365 plans and options available to charities and non-profits. Some plans are dependent on how many users you have and which applications you want to have access to. It’s important to also make sure that your organisation is eligible for the donated licensing.
In this blog, we are going to look at the different plans available to charities and non-profits, as well as how to ascertain if you are eligible for the donated licensing.
Is your charity eligible for donated licensing?
Microsoft’s donation programme globally gives away $2 million to charities and non-profits every day. Microsoft try and make the programme as accessible as possible and specify some eligibility criteria.
The first step to eligibility is that you must be a registered charity in the UK. You will need to register with Microsoft and prove your charitable status either through your registration with the UK Charity Commission or tax exemption with HM Revenue & Customs. Public libraries can qualify as an eligible non-profit organisation without charitable status when the software is made available to the public.
You will then need to make sure that your mission as a charity or non-profit is eligible for the donation programme. Your mission will need to benefit the local community, this could include activities like providing relief to the poor, advancing education, improving social welfare, preserving culture, preserving or restoring the environment, promoting human rights or the establishment of a civil society.
There are some organisations that may still be ineligible for the donation. Non-profit organisations that do not have charitable status despite their mission will not be eligible for donated licensing. Government organisations, professional, commerce and trade associations, political organisations and individuals are also not eligible for the donation.
Schools, colleges and universities are not eligible as there is a dedicated programme for education licensing in addition to the non-profit programme.
Healthcare organisations are also not eligible for donated licensing if they are part of the Microsoft Health programme. Exceptions to this rule are independent non-profits with missions revolving around community, women’s health clinics, hospices, emergency services and blood, tissue and organ banks.
Housing associations are also unable to claim donated licensing for Office 365. They are able to claim on-premises software (Office 365 is not on-premises) if it is made accessible to their tenants in communal IT facilities.
The third step to ensuring your organisation is eligible for donated licensing is all about who will be using the software. Discounted licensing is intended for paid non-profit employees or unpaid full-time equivalent staff who have day-to-day managerial, operational and fiduciary responsibilities and will not use the license for personal income generation. Volunteers, members and beneficiaries are not eligible for non-profit licenses and subscriptions.
Office 365 Plans for Charities and Non-Profit Organisations
As we have previously mentioned, there are multiple plans available for donated licensing. Some subscriptions are completely free and others are heavily discounted depending on the software available and the size of your organisation.
Microsoft 365 Business Basic (Office 365 Business Essentials)
The Business Basic plan is completely free to eligible charities and non-profit organisations. It provides email, Cloud file storage and Skype for Business. The locally installed Office applications such as Word and Excel are not included with this product but are available in the browser. This plan is only available to a maximum of 300 users. We would recommend Business Basic if you don’t particularly rely on the Office applications or you have recently upgraded them and just want to switch to Cloud based email and storage.
Microsoft 365 Business Standard (Office 365 Business Premium)
The Business Standard plan is £2.30 per user per month for charities and non-profit organisations, in comparison to the price of £9.40 (as of April 2018) if you were on a standard business subscription for this plan. Business Standard comes with everything available in Business Basic such as email, Cloud based storage and Skype for Business in addition to the locally installed Office applications, including Outlook. Office applications will be able to be installed on all a user’s devices. Each individual user can install the applications on 5 phones, 5 tablets and 5 PCs. This is useful if your teams use multiple devices, e.g. if they have a work and a personal phone, a tablet, a desktop PC and a laptop at home. You also get additional tools with Business Standard such as Yammer and Planner. Again, this plan is only available to a maximum of 300 users.
Office 365 E1
The E1 plan is made for larger organisations. It provides a similar suite of tools and services to the Business Basic plan, yet you can have more than 300 users. You also get compliance solutions such as legal hold capabilities and archiving. Office 365 E1 is available as a full donation for charities and non-profits.
Office 365 E3
The E3 plan is the equivalent of Business Standard for larger organisations. There is no limit on the number of users that can subscribe to the plan. With E3, you will get your Cloud based email and storage, the locally installed Office applications across devices and additional tools like Planner and Yammer. With E3 you will also get access to tools for compliance like archiving and legal hold capabilities. Office 365 E3 for charities and non-profits is available for £4 per user per month.
Office 365 Charity Licensing
The E3 plan is the equivalent of Business Premium for larger organisations. There is no limit on the number of users that can subscribe to the plan. With E3, you will get your Cloud based email and storage, the locally installed Office applications across devices and additional tools like Planner and Yammer. With E3 you will also get access to tools for compliance like archiving and legal hold capabilities. Office 365 E3 for charities and non-profits is available for £4 per user per month.