Microsoft’s Nonprofit Program: The Ultimate Guide

Microsoft has recently launched their own nonprofit program. Here’s your ultimate guide with everything you need to know.


If you’re a nonprofit, there are two mistakes you’re probably making. First, you aren’t subscribed to our newsletter, which you can find here (unless, of course, you are reading this in your email inbox). Second, you’re not making use of Microsoft’s nonprofit program.

Like Google, Microsoft also offers an in-kind donation program for eligible nonprofits. Through Microsoft’s program, you can access free software, free training, and even cheap advertising.

This is an image showing a Windows computer displaying "getting ready." This is part of my article on Microsoft's nonprofit program.
Credits: Johny Vino from Unsplash

How To Register For Microsoft’s Nonprofit Program

To register for Microsoft’s nonprofit program, there are a few requirements.

According to Microsoft’s website, there are 5 main requirements: organization eligibility, mission eligibility, registration and license restrictions, user licensing, and non-discrimination.

Organization Eligibility for Microsoft’s Nonprofit Program

To meet the organization eligibility requirements, “organizations must be a nonprofit or non-governmental organization with recognized legal status in their respective country (equal to 501(c)3 status under the United States Internal Revenue Code).”

In other words, you need to have official nonprofit or NGO status in your country.

Mission Eligibility for Microsoft’s Nonprofit Program

On top of organization eligibility requirements, Microsoft also restricts eligibility based on your nonprofit’s goals. Nonprofits that meet the organization eligibility requirements from above “must also operate on a not-for-profit basis and have a mission to benefit the local community.”

Examples of nonprofits listed as ineligible on Microsoft’s website include:

  • Nonprofits without legal status
  • Governmental organizations
  • Schools
  • Healthcare organizations
  • Public utilities
  • Financial institutions
  • Professional, commerce, and trade associations
  • Professional and semi-professional sports organizations
  • Political, labor, and fraternal organizations
  • Refurbishers
  • Individuals

Registration and License Restrictions for Microsoft’s Nonprofit Program

Microsoft has a few restrictions for registration for using its licenses. For example, “Microsoft reserves the right to grant or deny an organization’s application or participation at any time, for any reason.”

Other important restrictions are that third-party entities cannot complete registration on behalf of the nonprofit, and nonprofits cannot send nonprofit licenses or subscriptions to other organizations or individuals.

You can read more on Microsoft’s website.

User Licensing for Microsoft’s Nonprofit Program

Like the previous section, the restrictions here are a little complicated.

Nonprofits need to make sure that they follow Microsoft’s restrictions with which users can use which offers.

Here is a quote from Microsoft’s website:

“Nonprofit discounts and grants are permitted for:

Paid nonprofit employees;
Unpaid executive staff that act as senior leadership for the nonprofit. Eligible unpaid executive roles include Board of Directors, President, Officers, Executive Director, and Executive Program Directors only.

Discounted nonprofit offers are permitted for all nonprofit staff and volunteers.

Nonprofit beneficiaries, donors, and members (such as members of a church, club, or sports team) are NOT eligible for nonprofit offers.”


The last restriction is non-discrimination. Microsoft’s nonprofit program will not allow organizations that have a policy or mission of discrimination.

Assuming your nonprofit does not practice discrimination, you should be able to easily meet this requirement.

Benefits Of Microsoft’s Nonprofit Program

Microsoft’s nonprofit program has many useful benefits for nonprofits. Here are 3 of the main benefits.

Microsoft 365

Through Microsoft’s nonprofit program, nonprofits can get access to Microsoft 365. Microsoft offers three levels of Microsoft 365: Business Basic, Business Standard, and Business Premium.

Microsoft 365 Business Basic

Microsoft’s 365 Business Basic plan is a basic plan that offers email (Exchange), file storage (OneDrive), and web conferencing (Teams). The plan also offers web and mobile (but not desktop) version of Office apps, such as Excel, Word, Powerpoint, etc.

For nonprofits, Microsoft’s 365 Business Basic plan is free for up to 300 users (normally $5.00/user/month), and should be enough for nonprofits who don’t need the desktop version of Office apps. If you plan to use apps like Access, Excel, Outlook, Powerpoint, Publisher, or Word on your computer, you can either use the browser versions or choose a different Microsoft 365 plan.

Microsoft 365 Business Standard

After the Business Basic plan, the next level up is Microsoft’s 365 Business Standard plan.

The Business Standard plan includes all of the features from the Business Basic plan, along with the desktop versions of Office apps (Access, Excel, Outlook, Powerpoint, Publisher, and Word) for PC and Mac.

For nonprofits, Microsoft’s 365 Business Standard plan costs $3.00/user/month (normally $12.50/user/month).

I would not recommend using this plan except for very specific scenarios in which it makes sense to use this plan over the other two options.

Microsoft 365 Business Premium

The highest tier is Microsoft’s 365 Business Premium plan. On top of the features in Microsoft’s 365 Business Standard plan, the Business Premium plan also has advanced security and PC/mobile device management.

This includes Microsoft applications like Intune, Azure Information Protection, Defender, Conditional Access, and Conditional Windows Virtual Desktop. If you’re a smaller nonprofit, I would recommend choosing this plan.

For nonprofits, Microsoft offers the Business Premium plan for free for up to 10 users. Any additional users would cost an extra $5.00/user/month (normally $20.00/user/month).

If you’re choosing between the Business Standard and Business Premium plans, here is how the math works out:

  • If you plan to have less than 25 users, the Business Premium plan will be cheaper
  • If you plan to have 25 users, both plans cost the same. In this case, you should go with the Business Premium plan for its extra features
  • If you plan to have more than 25 users, your team needs to decide if the extra features from the Business Premium plan are worth it for the extra cost


Along with giving nonprofits free access to its Microsoft 365 Business plans, Microsoft allows offers training to help nonprofits use these plans.

Here are some of the courses that are available:

Microsoft Teams 101 for Nonprofits
This course offers an introduction to Microsoft Teams. It is a self-paced course, and helps nonprofits learn how to use the application in a nonprofit environment.

Excel for Nonprofits
This course offers an introduction to Microsoft Excel. It is a self-paced course, and helps nonprofits keep track of their data.

Administrator’s Security Toolkit
This course helps nonprofits set up security settings and tools for their Microsoft 365 accounts. Like the previous courses, this is also a self-paced course.

Microsoft 365 Accessibility Training
This self-paced course gives nonprofits training on how to make Microsoft 365 more accessible to people with disabilities.

Getting Started With Microsoft Teams
This is an instructor-led course that helps nonprofits maximize their use of Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Teams Live Courses
These courses are part of series of a live training session that introduces nonprofits to Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Teams 201 for Nonprofits
This course helps nonprofits expand on the tips and tricks learned from the Microsoft Teams 101 for Nonprofits course. Like the 101 course, the 201 course also teaches nonprofits how to use Microsoft Teams in nonprofit scenarios.

Excel 201
This course builds on the lessons from the Excel for Nonprofits course. This self-guided course discusses advanced features like pivot tables and calculated fields.

Collaborating With Sharepoint
This self-paced course introduces nonprofits to Sharepoint, and teaches nonprofits how to effectively use it.

Information Protection Training
Microsoft’s Information Protection Training teaches nonprofits how to protect important information in Microsoft 365.

Power BI for Visualizing Data and Measuring Your Impact
The Power BI course is a course which introduces nonprofits to Power BI. Power BI is a set of analytics tools, and the course teaches nonprofits how to use Power BI.

Power Apps for Nonprofits
Power Apps for Nonprofits is a course that helps nonprofits develop apps for their organization.

PowerPoint for Nonprofits
PowerPoint is crucial for nonprofits who want to communicate their story to donors, volunteers, and other supporters. This course teaches nonprofits how to create great presentations to share their stories, successes, and future visions.

Word for Nonprofits
Like PowerPoint, Microsoft Word is crucial for nonprofits. This course teaches nonprofits how to create Microsoft Word documents to effectively tell their organization’s story.

Ads for Social Impact

A relatively new addition to Microsoft’s nonprofit program is the Ads for Social Impact initiative.

This new program is modeled after the Google Ad Grants program.

Through the Ads for Social Impact program, Microsoft is offering a 50% discount for search advertising on Bing, Yahoo, and AOL up to a maximum of $5000/month in ad spend for eligible nonprofits.

Microsoft lists these as potential benefits of activating the Ads for Social Impact program on the Ads for Social Impact website:

“Grow awareness around your mission: Intelligently grow awareness and engagement with your cause. You pay only when someone clicks on your ad and can double down on your marketing budget with the 50% off discount.

Attract new donors and volunteers: Extend reach by unlocking a new platform to attract, retain, and grow donor and supporter bases.

Accelerate mission outcomes with Microsoft: Drive more qualified traffic to your website and garner a deeper understanding of how your constituents are interacting with your cause across more discounted products with Microsoft.”

Unfortunately, the Ads for Social Impact appears to be restricted to the first 100 eligible applicants.

While this program may be limited, it is a sign of future changes with Microsoft. The Ads for Social Impact program, in its current form, may be a trial for introducing a Google Ad Grants-style program.

According to the RKD Group, Microsoft is close to unveiling a Grants for Social Impact program.

Their blog post states that “Grants for Social Impact will be similar in structure to Google Ad Grants.” This may hopefully mean that the Ads for Social Impact program is a precursor to something even better.

Other Features of Microsoft’s Nonprofit Program

On top of the previously discussed features, Microsoft also offers free credits for its Azure program and discounts for its Dynamics 365 program.

Because I myself don’t fully understand these programs (and because most smaller nonprofits likely won’t use these features), I won’t discuss these features in this article.


Ultimately, Microsoft has a great program for nonprofits, and it’s definitely something to look into.

I love Microsoft’s 365 Business plan offerings, and I would recommend that you check out their program.

If you’re interested in learning more tips and tricks for your nonprofit, join our newsletter here.

You can check our our last article about email marketing tools for nonprofits here.