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The Right Microsoft 365 and Office 365 for Your Nonprofit

Note: This post has been updated to reflect price changes that took effect on September 1, 2022.

For years, TechSoup has partnered with Microsoft to provide nonprofits with the core solutions they need for their organizations. While traditional desktop and on-premises products available through TechSoup's Microsoft Discount and Donation Programs can be incredibly useful and valuable, many nonprofits are now looking at more flexible, resilient, and secure solutions provided by Microsoft's cloud-based products. Microsoft offers both donated and discounted cloud licenses, just like our traditional software donation and discount programs, but with even more choice and flexibility.

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Cloud licenses can be mixed and matched to best suit your organization's needs. The licenses are all based on the same application structure, just with different features and security components available.

Maybe some staff on your team only need a basic license for document collaboration, but your program team needs access to some advanced security features available in a premium license. With cloud solutions, each user can have their own license and collaborate together with ease. Also, because these are subscription-based cloud solutions, you will always get the best and latest security and feature updates available.

TechSoup's Recommendations

We recommend that all organizations take advantage of the donated Microsoft 365 Business Premium offer from Microsoft for your first 10 licenses. These licenses are available for free and include both cloud and installed (or desktop) versions of Office applications. Microsoft 365 Business Premium also includes Teams for communications, cloud storage, Windows upgrade rights, and device management solutions.

If you need more than 10 licenses, we recommend that you add either Microsoft 365 Business Standard, Microsoft 365 Business Premium, or Office 365 E3 based on the security needs of your organization. These licenses are available at a significant discount, and will include installed versions of Office applications. Business Premium will also offer Windows upgrades, which helps reduce the need to install new software in the future.

Factors to Consider When Selecting Microsoft Licenses

But how do you figure out which license is best for your needs? There are few questions you want to ask yourself:

  • Who is using the license? Microsoft's donated cloud licenses are only for paid staff, but volunteer licenses are available.
  • How many people in your organization need licenses? Microsoft tailors licensing based on size. Small and medium organizations have fewer than 300 users and are best served by Business licenses. Large organizations have more than 300 users and require Enterprise licenses.
  • What are the key applications that your team needs to use? Almost all licenses come with the essential applications in the following areas:

    • Productivity: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook
    • Communication and collaboration: Teams
    • Data management: OneDrive and SharePoint

    Also, think about whether your organization would need both cloud and desktop versions of licenses and what additional applications and features you may want. Enterprise licenses, for example, come with work management tools such as To Do and Planner. Microsoft 365 Audio Conferencing can also be added to enhance your use of Teams. It allows participants to call in to meetings from their audio lines versus web, mobile, or desktop apps.

  • What security features are necessary for your organization? Key things to consider include the type of data you are storing and whether or not there are legal restrictions on how you need to manage and report your data. For example, organizations that provide health services may need to ensure that their systems support HIPAA compliance. You may also want to have additional security in management of applications and devices across your organization.

    We also recommend that organizations consider Microsoft Office 365's Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) to protect their email against unknown malware and viruses. The ATP plans have reporting and trace capabilities to provide your administrators insights on potential attacks happening in your organization.

The following table lists offers available to nonprofits, along with the key considerations and factors that may help in your decision-making process. It highlights the key features that we believe are most relevant to most nonprofits.

clickable image linking to a table that recommends Microsoft 365 and Office 365 editions


The table above does not show all features of the products. See a more detailed PDF overview of the different Microsoft 365 and Office 365 licenses.

Ready to get started? You can request products in the Microsoft catalog.


Still need help? Sign up for a free Microsoft cloud consultation. You can also take a look at our extensive discounted Microsoft Services available to nonprofits, including data migration, email migration, and Office 365 admin support. Lastly, don't forget to stop by the Microsoft Digital Skills Center, an online learning resource, to gain valuable training in Microsoft's most popular offerings, including Excel, Teams, and more.

We hope that this has provided you with the information you need to start — or continue — your journey toward finding the right set of Microsoft solutions at your nonprofit.

Top photo: Shutterstock