Free Microsoft Office 365 for non-profits

Microsoft New Zealand took advantage of this week’s TechEd conference to announce Office 365 for Nonprofits.

The charitable programme will see the company give qualifying charities and non-profit organisations free subscriptions to the cloud version of its Office software. It’s a world-wide initiative, which Microsoft NZ managing director Paul Muckleston says stems from company founder Bill Gate’s belief that technology can be used to make a real difference.

Muckleston says the Office 365 offer includes Exchange, Sharepoint, Microsoft’s Office web apps and Lync.

Lync love at non-profits

That last application turns out to be top of mind for at least two of the organisations that will benefit from the offer.

At a press conference to announce the programme, Sue Jury, national fundraising manager for The Child Cancer Foundation says her organisation saved $60,000 just from using Lync.

Plunket’s Craig Le Quesne, who is the organisation’s IT manager, says workers communicate with each other using the technology every other day. He says: “Lync brings people together” Le Quesne says there’s an obvious saving on air travel costs and the large amounts of time people spend travelling.

Plunket now has three video conferencing rooms which Le Quesne says were equipped for less than $3,000 and are fully-booked all the time.

Cloud important too

Both speakers mentioned how using cloud apps is important for their organisations. Jury says the CCF doesn’t have internal IT staff and relies instead on external contractors. She says although those contractors work for the charity at cost, being able to reduce even that bill matters: “We are a business, but we need to be mindful of spending money”.

Muckleston says Microsoft and the Ministry of Social Development ran a trial in Christchurch where 50 non-government organisations were given a three-day assessment. As a result, two-thirds of the participants moved workers to the cloud.

New Zealand has 27,000 registered non-profits and 180,000 workers. Another 400,000 volunteers work for the sector. Muckleston says the Microsoft offer can extend to volunteers. At the moment some 5,000 New Zealand organisations are registered with Microsoft for technology donations. The company expects this will now increase significantly.