Office 365 Vs Google Apps: Which One Will Better Fit Your Non-Profit?

Written by Shawn Lyles

September 22, 2014

Office 365 Vs Google Apps: Which One Will Better Fit Your Non-Profit?

Office 365 vs Google Apps for Non-ProfitsMany websites and blogs have gone into the debate about Office 365 vs Google apps, but not many have compared them for non-profit organizations’ use. Since our customers are primarily non-profit organizations and I use both Office 365 and Google apps daily, I thought that it would be good to shed some light on how they compare for non-profit purposes.

Google apps: Google apps for business is a “lean, mean, simplistic machine”. Offering a clean, simple, and cheap way to handle the more basic “everyday type” tasks. I would compare Google apps to a “journeyman boxer”. Like a journeyman boxer Google apps has the tools to get in the ring and handle basic tasks, and will cost the promoter less to book the “journeyman fighter”.

Office 365: Microsoft Office 365 is a more robust, feature-rich and complex business solution. Office 365 is like the heavyweight champion with all the tools to handle any contender or task. At the same time, it costs the promoter more to bring in Office 365, to take on the “task”.

How to decide which one is a better fit for your non profit organization?

When trying to decide which business solution you should use, there are some questions that will need to be answered. The first question you should ask is, how many accounts will your organization need? What tools will your organization need to help streamline your processes and reach your goals? What is the budget for your business solutions and which of these tools will be more cost effective? Also, will your organization migrate internally or will you need to get a third party to assist in the migration process? What about security? What business solution is more secure for your organization?

The next step in deciding which business solution to use for your organization is to find out what differentiates the two business solutions. This information is needed to be able to properly answer the questions above.

What to consider Microsoft Office 365 for Nonprofits Google Apps for Nonprofits
Users & Pricing Eligible nonprofits and charities can receive free (donation) or newly discounted versions of Office 365 tailored toward their nonprofits “size”. See if your nonprofit is eligible for free or discounted office 365 here. Google Apps suite is free to all nonprofits including Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Drive. More information is available here.
Tools Compared Office 365 is a feature rich, complete business solution. Offering similar tools to Google Apps but with very different and more advanced features. Google Apps provides a similar alternative to Office 365, but is less robust and since working only from the cloud. Downtime can cause productivity loses.
Migration Office 365 has an e-mail migration wizard that automatically creates users and syncs on-premise Exchange mailboxes in the background of your migration. Office 365 also has a autodiscover feature to automatically configure Outlook for Office 365. Exchange users migrating to Google Apps will have to move all messages into appropriate labels, since the original folder structure is not retained. Converting works well for most files, but it can be time consuming and complex documents can potentially become damaged, needing editing.
Security Microsoft Office 365’s policy is to not use your data for purposes other than providing organizations with productivity services. Nonprofits using Office 365 will know where their data lives and who exactly can access it. Office 365 meets many key world-class industry standards. Google Apps focuses a lot on advertising by reading your emails and generating ads on your content. Google Apps seems to have a lack of clarity on governance policies and is looked at as being much riskier for Enterprise organizations.

Nonprofits Using Office 365 and Google Apps

The American Heart Association chooses Office 365: AHA wanted to move to a hosting service because of the money it could save. AHA was researching and considering Google Apps and other third-party hosted Exchange solutions but quickly found the right fit with Office 365. Michael Wilson, executive vice president of technology and customer strategies at AHA said, “We passed on Google because we didn’t think it was feature-rich enough. Also, our staff has been on Outlook for a long time,”

Philadelphia’s Jenkins Law Library chooses Google Apps: The Jenkins Law Library in Philadelphia was using VMware and Exchange Server 2003 and later realized they would need more licenses. Jenkins Law library did research on Office 365 and other options, then came to decision. Andrew Sather, assistant director for technology services at Jenkins Law library said, “I played with Office 365 a little bit in beta but didn’t feel it was ready,” he said. After more research, Sather and the management team decided that a move to Google Apps was a “no brainer.”

This section is provided by Matt Gervais, from Tech Target – Search Exchange.

Bottom Line:

Office 365 for nonprofits: Office 365 provides a familiar and feature rich cloud-based office solution to organizations. If your organization is using large spreadsheets, complex files and needs enterprise security then Office 365 is the best option available.

Google Apps for nonprofits: Google Apps is great for smaller organizations that need their suite of services, but don’t need a desktop version of the software. Also there’s no user limit, so you don’t have to worry about having to change plans if your business is growing.

You have to do the research and ask yourself and your organization what business solution will be the best fit for your nonprofit. I hope this article has helped you in at least taking the time to start thinking about bringing your organization up to speed with the latest business services from Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps.

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