What are the benefits of Microsoft Office 365 for St. Louis Nonprofits?

Microsoft Office 365 has a lot to offer businesses in nearly every industry – but particularly those doing good work in the nonprofit sector.

Nonprofits struggle with many challenges that traditional enterprise-based corporations do not, given that they often operate on the bare minimum of resources, staff, and volunteers.

While you’re grateful for every last person who gives of their time and talent to assist in the organization’s efforts, they don’t always have all of the skill sets you need to successfully run the operation.

This often means that you have to pick up the slack – but everyone has their limitations.

Ideal IT solutions are not easy to come by when you are dependent on volunteer labor and have a small budget. More than that, you have a lot of places you need your money — and personnel — to go.

Unfortunately, technology and IT employees are sometimes the last things to be considered in the budget.

That’s why it all comes down to one simple idea: bang for your buck.

When you don’t have any extra dollars to spend on additional features, surplus services, or other things enjoyed by for-profits, then you have to make every single penny count.

What’s the best way to do so? With an all-inclusive cloud platform like Microsoft Office 365.

Over the past few years, productivity suites have become more and more popular with businesses of all sizes, in a wide and varied range of industries – especially nonprofits.

It’s the type of solution that has something to offer everyone. Cloud-based technologies, in general, are changing the way nonprofits view the capabilities of their technology – especially Microsoft Office 365.

What Nonprofit obstacles does Microsoft Office 365 help overcome?

Nonprofits, like all businesses, run best when they have people heading each department that are experts in their fields.

That’s not easy to come by when you are dependent on volunteer labor and have a small budget. More than that, you have a lot of places you need your money – and personnel – to go. Unfortunately, the last things to be considered in the budget are often IT services and solutions for nonprofits.

That means that St. Louis nonprofits like yours often run into the same challenges:

  1. Finance: Every dollar you spend on IT services and solutions is a dollar you can’t devote towards your purpose as nonprofit. That means every dollar (no matter how few) has to count.
  2. People: It can be difficult to hire expert team members when other industries offer larger salaries, better hours, and more benefits.
  3. Mobility: Staying mobile means investing in new technology, and refreshing it every few years – that takes time (and, again, money).

It’s for all these reasons that a productivity suite is so perfectly suited to eliminate a nonprofit’s common challenges. And which productivity suite in particular?

Microsoft Office 365.

What are 3 reasons to choose Microsoft Office 365?

In addition to the many industry-agnostic features of Microsoft Office 365 that we’ll explore below, did you know that it also offers benefits specifically to those operating in the nonprofit field?

Plans designed specifically for your type of business.

Microsoft Office 365 Nonprofit is Microsoft’s specifically branded solution for organizations like yours, which offers:

    • Hosted email, with storage varying by license – unlimited archiving and enhanced security for E3 & E5 licenses, 50 GB per user for Business Essentials, Business Premium and E1 licenses, and 2 GB per user for F1 licenses
    • Every standard capability included in the installed version of the Office application suite

Office 365 Nonprofit Business Premium, E3 & E5

These discounted plans include everything the free plans below offer, in addition to the

features listed above, and are offered at the following discounted prices:

    • Office 365 Nonprofit Business Premium – $3 per user per month
    • Office 365 Nonprofit E3 – $4.50 per user per month
    • Office 365 Nonprofit E5 – $15 per user per month

That’s not all, however – Microsoft also offers 2 free, fully donated plans (based on eligibility):

Office 365 Nonprofit Business Essentials & Office 365 Nonprofit E1
These free plans do not include the full installed version of the Office suite (meaning you don’t get Word, Excel, PowerPoint on desktop etc.), but they do offer hosted email, file storage and sharing, online meetings for HD video conferencing and IM, browser-based Office suites, Microsoft Teams, and 24/7 technical support.

The primary difference between the two is that Business Essentials is available for up to 300 users, whereas E1 is available for up to 2000 users.

Protect your donors.

You know it, we know it – there’s no point beating around the bush. Everyone is aware that a data breach is always a possibility.  But when it comes to nonprofits, those at risk are the ones that actually donated their money to a worthy cause!  The last thing you want to do is put them at risk. That’s why you need to make sure you’ve invested in IT services that will keep your data (including the financial and personal information of your donors) secure.

That’s why Microsoft Office 365 is such a worthwhile investment – in addition to built-in spam and malware protection for your Outlook-based email, your data is protected in the cloud by the very nature of Microsoft Office 365.

Furthermore, if your nonprofit also works with sensitive information, you can be confident that Office 365 is compliant with industry standards such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and FISMA (The Federal Information Security Management Act).

Microsoft Office 365 makes security management simple by allowing you to manage and customize your organization’s security options via a single console.

Get more value out of your greatest investment of all.

More so than perhaps any other industry, a nonprofit’s most valuable resource is its people, and the time they have to offer. It’d be a luxury to be able to pay everyone what they’re owed, let alone at all, and so many nonprofits rely on selfless volunteers to ensure work gets done.

What happens when those volunteers can’t actually get any work done where they need to, because their data is “at the office”?

By investing in a cloud platform like Microsoft Office 365, you give your staff members the freedom to access data and work from wherever their work takes them, on whatever smartphone, tablet or laptop they prefer to use.

This, in turn, nets you an ideal return on the number of working hours you can get your staff and volunteers to commit to.

What else does Microsoft Office 365 offer St. Louis Nonprofits?

You and your users are probably used to applications such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft Outlook because of how popular and common they are. Now imagine how useful those apps would be when fully configured in the cloud.

Microsoft Office 365 is available on any platform you need, whether it’s a laptop, a phone, or tablet.

You and your users can collaborate and communicate across devices, ensuring that your busy staff members working in the field can easily send and update information critical to your operations while on the go, instead of calling in or coming back to the office.

But that’s just the beginning – Microsoft Office 365 also offers:

  • 99.9% Uptime Guaranteed: You can expect minimal downtime or inconvenient planned maintenance, allowing you to work efficiently and without delay.
  • Skype For Business: This service comes with the range of features necessary for truly effective communication between your nonprofit and its key contacts. You can schedule Skype for Business meetings, upload, share and view PowerPoint presentations, share your screen with other contacts, record all calls in high quality, check the availability of meeting attendees, and more.
  • Email and Calendar, On The Go: With Microsoft Outlook, you can seamlessly integrate your calendar features directly into your email, so that scheduling a meeting, responding to invites and keeping track of your upcoming appointments is that much simpler.
  • Teams: Microsoft Teams is the Office 365 flagship virtual meeting product, which offers simple capability for chats, phone calls and meetings of any size. This app provides virtual meeting rooms where people can collaborate on any subject. It’s available for your PC, Mac or mobile device, and it’s revolutionizing the way workers communicate.
  • Comprehensive Availability: Microsoft Office 365 provides an undeniably convenient end user experience.  You can access your own Microsoft Office 365 configuration with ease, via browser login on any Internet-capable device, the Outlook web app for email and calendar access, or simply at Office.com.

What should you expect to pay for Microsoft Office 365?

This answer depends primarily on what features you need, and what you qualify for.

As explored above, you could qualify for one of Microsoft’s more limited, but entirely donated plans – Office 365 Nonprofit Business Essentials & Office 365 Nonprofit E1. But again, while free, these plans only offer browser-based apps, and lack enhanced security features and storage capabilities.

If you do have room in your budget to invest, you could instead opt for one of the following discounted plans, which provide the features included in the fully installed Microsoft Office suite, along with enhanced security features, at the following cost per user:

    • Office 365 Nonprofit Business Premium – $3 per user per month
    • Office 365 Nonprofit E3 – $4.50 per user per month
    • Office 365 Nonprofit E5 – $15 per user per month

Which Microsoft Office 365 plan should you choose?

Without knowing more about your nonprofit, this can be difficult to say.

If you’re unsure, one of the best ways to determine your needs and find the right solution to meet them is to work with a St. Louis Microsoft Office 365 support company that you can trust. With the right expertise on your side, you can take stock of your IT needs and determine exactly what your St. Louis nonprofit needs from Microsoft Office 365, and invest in the right plan accordingly.

Like this article? Check out Is Your Nonprofit Using IT Best Practices For Success? Top New Additions To Microsoft Office 365 or How To Add A Contact In Microsoft Outlook to learn more.