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Free Microsoft Office 365 for non-profits

LeCraig Le Quesne Sue Jury Paul Muckleston

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

It is a charitable programme.  Microsoft gives qualifying charities and non-profit organisations free subscriptions to the cloud version of Office. It’s a world-wide initiative.

Microsoft NZ managing director Paul Muckleston says it stems from company founder Bill Gate’s belief that technology can 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

Lync is 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 IT manager Craig Le Quesne 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. Le Quesne says they 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. This gave 50 non-government organisations 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, there are 5,000 New Zealand organisations registered with Microsoft for technology donations. The company expects this will now increase significantly.

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