Nonprofit organisations in 41 countries can benefit from a free version of the cloud-based productivity suite Office 365 as Microsoft extends the scope of its Technology for Good programme.
Registered nonprofit organisations will be able to make use of the software without any charge, regardless of the size of their organisation or the number of staff they employ. It is available in the UK and 40 other countries from today, with a further 50 countries added by July 2014.
Microsoft's Office 365 Enterprise E1 package, which normally costs £5.20 per user per month, includes the entire suite of web-based Office products as well as Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync video conferencing. In addition, companies can upgrade to the Enterprise E3 package, which includes Office desktop software licences for £3.50 per user per month, normally priced at £15.
President of Microsoft International Jean-Philippe Courtois said the intention was to minimise IT costs for nonprofit organisations so they could focus on their operations. "Nonprofits operate in the same way as any other organisation or business; however, many lack the resources to implement the latest technology. The donation of Office 365 allows them to be more effective and efficient in the work they do."
The head of ICT for UK-based charity Christian Aid Philip Humphries said the free access to Microsoft's tools would greatly help his teams' operations. "We see Office 365 as an important enabler for our strategy of ensuring all staff can easily and reliably access not only email but also collaboration tools wherever they may be," he said.
"Crucially, this ubiquity will enable us to collaborate more effectively with partners around the world, helping us towards our ultimate goal of ending poverty."
Microsoft's Technology for Good programme also includes online training courses and grants for software including Windows 8 and Visual Studio. The firm said it donated $795m in cash, software and services to more than 70,000 nonprofit organisations in 2012.
This latest charitable step rivals the Google for Nonprofits programme, which launched in the UK in July and also gives free access to Google cloud-based Apps products including Drive and Gmail for charities.
Nonprofit organisations that are eligible for Microsoft's programme can visit the Office for 365 nonprofits hub for more information.
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