How Microsoft Cloud Resources Can Help Non-Profits Improve Their Operations

In many ways, the operations of non-profit organizations like yours differ from its for-profit counterparts. Your goals (and value propositions) tend to be related less to helping stakeholders maximize income and more to helping your community and other social causes.

Of course, that dedication also tends to come with its limitations. Managing a non-profit tends to come with sometimes significant budget and resource restriction, which necessitate strategic decisions on each operational choice you make for the organization.

Recognizing this fact, software vendors have begun to offer packages specifically for non-profits, designed with similar functionality but a discounted price compared to their standard platforms. Microsoft is at the forefront of this movement, providing a variety of software options that help you run your business more efficiently. Understanding the available Microsoft Cloud resources for non-profits should be your first step in ensuring a balance between fiscal responsibility and operational efficiency.

The Non-Profit Cost Savings of Office 365

You might have heard about Office 365, which in many ways Microsoft’s core offering of software solutions. Depending on the package you choose, you will be able to take advantage of core operational software like Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Publisher. Advanced version adds cloud storage, video conferencing, and even an internal corporate social network.

The best part: as a non-profit, you can get a basic version of Office 365 for free. In this plan, a maximum of 300 users can work and collaborate on documents of all kinds, and even access company data via a secure cloud server. Also, Microsoft offers a variety of other Office 365 plans with additional capabilities:

  • Office 365 Nonprofit Business Premium. For a cost of $2.00 per user and month, organizations can add online versions of the above productivity tools, along with mobile accessibility of the same tools.
  • Office 365 Nonprofit E1. Free for unlimited users, this plan differs from the basic variety by adding a corporate video portal and a meeting broadcast platform for up to 10,000 people to your suite of products.
  • Office 365 Nonprofit E3. This option builds on the Business Premium plan through the addition unlimited users, a video portal and meeting platform, along with compliance software, information protection services, and even business intelligence software. The cost, as a result, rises to $4.50 per user and month.
  • Office 365 Nonprofit E5. Microsoft’s most premium offering for non-profits is the E5. For a cost of $10 per user/month, organizations get the full power of Office 365. That means, in addition to all of the above, predictive coding and text analytics along with advanced data security, a variety of analytics tool, and even cloud-based call management software.

Which of these options is right for your organization depends entirely on your business need. But on balance, each plan is a significant cost savings compared to its for-profit pricing plans, which tend to range from $8.00 per user/month all the way up to $35.00 per user/month for the E5 counterpart.

Understanding the Value of Azure for Your Non-Profit

The Microsoft Azure suite ranges across a broad range of services, many of which are invaluable to its enterprise-level customers. For instance, it allows businesses to set up virtual machines, host and build websites, collect real-time mobile analytics, and manage data using SQL data warehouses.

For many non-profits, this type of enterprise software suite seems difficult to afford. After all, regular plans (depending on the included services) can quickly rise to hundreds of dollars each month. Fortunately, Microsoft carries through its commitment to non-profits by offering significant discounts for this type of business model.

In fact, every nonprofit acquiring Azure services through Microsoft’s philanthropy program receives $5,000 in credits per year to use toward the entire portfolio of platforms and services. According to Azure’s website, potential services include (but are not limited to):

  • Web and mobile apps
  • Big data and analytics
  • Predictive maintenance and monitoring
  • Cognitive services such as real-time language translation
  • Microservice applications
  • Storage
  • Digital media hosting
  • Hybrid on-premise and cloud integration
  • Development and testing solutions
  • Disaster recovery
  • Blockchain opportunities
  • Operations management capabilities

Depending on the services you use through Azure, that $5,000 credit can help to significantly ease your available operations budget – or cover the entire bill. As a result, you can significantly improve the efficiency and success of your operations by integrating forward-facing cloud solutions into your existing IT infrastructure.

Building Better Customer Service Through Microsoft Dynamics

Especially as your non-profit organization grows, you likely become aware of the need for a more centralized opportunity to store donor and customer data. Microsoft Dynamics is one of the most popular and feature-rich solutions on the market, offering a comprehensive Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform that can improve customer generation and relations across industries.

An effective CRM not only organizes your donor and customer data but also improves the integration between your marketing and sales efforts. Also, effective in-system email messaging and automation opportunities help to improve the communication and build relationships with both future and existing stakeholders. The potential benefits of a CRM like Dynamics are immense.

Of course, as is the case with Azure, the price may become an issue. Microsoft’s Dynamics Enterprise Solution costs as much as $210 per user and month. As much as you want to be able to improve your customer relations, that price can make it seem impossible. But once again, qualifying organizations can take advantage of significant discounts.

In fact, full use of the same Enterprise Solution above will only cost $28.75 per user and month – an almost 90 percent discount compared to the regular plan. As a result, your non-profit can take advantage of a comprehensive customer relationship management suite for a price that can fit even in smaller budgets.

How Microsoft Seeks to Help Non-Profits Thrive

Finally, Microsoft partners with non-profits on a variety of other software solutions, as well. For instance, qualifying organizations can get Windows 10 Pro for a significant discount. For a full overview of available software donations and discounts, visit Microsoft’s Philanthropy page.

In short, Microsoft has made a conscious effort to help non-profits like yours improve their operations and thrive in a competitive environment. Recognizing the value of organizations dedicated to their community and the social good, the technology giant offers significant benefits, discounts, and donations for almost all of its software solutions.

Some case studies show just how beneficial these benefits can be. Global organizations ranging from Nobel Media to Habitat for Humanity have taken advantage of Microsoft’s commitment to helping non-profits and improving their operations significantly in the process.

Your non-profit may be the next in line. To make that happen, of course, you need to fulfill Microsoft’s eligibility requirements, along with guidance on actually implementing the software and understanding the potential for volume discounts.

Microsoft has established a Frequency Asked Questions page that seeks to answer some of these questions. But ultimately, your best bet is to talk to IT experts who have extensive experience in helping organizations like you get the most out of their existing software and implement new solutions.

That’s where we come in. Our commitment is similar to Microsoft in helping non-profits thrive, and we would love to work with you on your Microsoft Cloud service implementation. To learn more about us, and for answers to any questions you might have about the above resources and solutions, contact us.


About Jeff Collins

Experience and Expertise make the difference when searching for top cloud providers. Appliedi has provided managed cloud services since 1999.