How Do You Help Very Small Nonprofits?

Small nonprofit

Written by Dan Callahan

I'm the VP of Global Services at CGNET. I manage our Cybersecurity and Cloud Services businesses. I also provide consulting and handle a lot of project management. I wear a lot of hats. Professionally, I'm a builder of businesses. Outside of work, I'm a hobby farmer, chef, skier, dog walker, jokester, woodworker, structuralist, husband and father.

September 5, 2019

Last fall I worked with one of our customers, who wanted to help very small nonprofits better achieve their program goals. This foundation, like many others, provides grants to organizations that are often quite small—ten people or less.

These very small nonprofits are staffed with people passionate about creating change. But they are often short on technical skills. Very small nonprofits do benefit from funding for the IT that can help them deliver their programs. But these organizations also need IT help.

Having seen the need, I was glad to find out that Microsoft and TechSoup have expanded their support for the nonprofit sector.

Helping Very Small Nonprofits

Microsoft announced that it would now provide non-profit organizations with ten free Microsoft 365 Business licenses. The company also said that additional Microsoft 365 Business licenses could be purchased for $5 per user per month (a 75% discount from the retail subscription price).

Microsoft also announced a “digital skills center for nonprofits.” This skills center, offered in partnership with TechSoup, provides technology training and learning resources.

The final Microsoft announcement, a “nonprofit operations toolkit,” is a bit vague on details but appears to address awards and grants management workflows.

TechSoup sent out its own announcement about this new support for very small nonprofits. They are pairing the Microsoft 365 subscription offer with a “Microsoft Cloud Starter Kit” subscription. The Starter Kit subscription appears to be priced at $3 per user per month. It includes initial setup and configuration of Microsoft 365, along with ongoing support.

I’m glad to see this program, as it will help very small nonprofits.

  • Very small nonprofits get access to business-class email, collaboration and productivity applications and services at free or reduced prices.
  • The digital training could be useful for helping very small nonprofits mature their understanding of current digital technologies.
  • The Microsoft Cloud Starter Kit from TechSoup helps very small nonprofits leverage IT expertise and support at a reasonable cost.

Let’s Not Overlook Security

One limitation of this offer is that Microsoft’s security services are not included in Microsoft 365 Business. These services are included in other Microsoft 365 subscriptions, also at discounted nonprofit prices. Very small nonprofits are subject to the same cybersecurity risks as larger organizations. If anything, there’s more need to help very small nonprofits with cybersecurity than with larger nonprofits. I would encourage spending on some Microsoft 365 subscriptions that do include some security features. Another option would be to supplement Microsoft 365 Business with security subscriptions such as Enterprise Mobility + Security.

This is a Good Step Forward

I’ve had conversations with a few different customers about ways to help very small nonprofits with IT (and cybersecurity in particular). Grantmaking organizations already have a tradition of funding organizational development and effectiveness. As “digital transformation” spreads to more organizations, it makes sense to think of funding IT initiatives that would help very small nonprofits leverage technology to deliver their programs.



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