This story begins….
A bit over two years ago I found two great deals on Microsoft Office Software. I was able to purchase two new copies of Microsoft Office for Business, 2010 for about $150 each. I was very glad for that because I had been using Office 2000, which was getting a little dated (and had LOTS of security issues). I thought it was a good deal, though when I got one copy in the mail it was obviously pirated software. Suddenly the seller wouldn’t respond to my emails anymore! I contacted Microsoft and told them about it and they graciously said that they would send me a legitimate copy if I would send them the software I had and the contact information for the seller. I checked with them about the second package I bought, and they verified that was OK.
So now I had two good copies of Office, one for the church office and one for me, and they only cost $300 (way less than general retail). I was happy with what I had – for a while.
Office 365 FREE for nonprofits?
Then one day I saw a notice that Microsoft was giving churches (and other 501-c3 organizations) the opportunity to get a subscription to their Office 365 product for free. I really doubted that, but never one to look a gift-horse in the mouth, I checked it out. Amazingly, the offer was true.
In case you don’t know, Office 365 is a subscription service that Microsoft provides to its customers which gives them access to the whole suite of their office products and services:
- A wonderful set of communication tools that allow you to collaborate and share projects with other users.
Another really wonderful tool is their OneDrive, which allows you to automatically back up and share (with complete control over who can share) your data and projects (you are backing up all your data, right?). Encrypted and secure, no one can get to your information unless you grant them access (You are using a secure password manager to make unbreakable passwords, right? I use Safe-in-Cloud, which I recommend as well).
All of that for free. Amazing!
The only caveat is that the free version uses cloud-based versions of all the software programs – they aren’t stand-alone versions that are kept on your computer. That means that, depending on your internet connection, your work might be a bit slower (and then again, it might not be). In any case, free is good!
But then I found an even better deal…but you have to pay for it.
Microsoft will sell you a subscription to the stand-alone version of Office 365 Business Premium for $2/month per user (paid monthly, but with a year’s commitment) if your church applies for it.
You get to download and install all their latest Office Software so it’s very fast and you can use it even when you’re not online.
- All the MS Office programs you wish to install,
- A Terabyte of OneDrive online backup and sharing center, secure email, Skype for Business and much, much more.
You can even install it on up to five computers (and five tablets and five phones – you have way too many devices if your max this out!) you own (the only requirement is that you are the one who uses the computer, phone or tablet more than half the time). It’s pretty amazing, especially since the same package for a business is $12.50 a month per user.
The “User” in this case is anyone associated with your church
They don’t have to be employees of the church, just active in some way (I asked if it could be a shut-in participating in a prayer chain, and the MS rep said, “Yup.”) If you’re still wondering if you should do this you can try the 90-day free trial (or just signup permanently for the absolutely free, online only, version of Office 365).
How do I sign up?
To apply for either of these great deals your Session will need to give the go-ahead to apply to Microsoft for this program. Then you will need to search for “Office 365 for Churches” to find out where to apply, or go directly to: Office 365 Nonprofits Plan and Pricing.
Microsoft will ask you sign up for the trial program during which they will have you out a questionnaire, provide your tax ID number and give some further information. You will need to designate an administrator of the account, able to add and delete user accounts, set passwords and access limits, etc. You provide a billing method (a credit card or a checking account, for the $2/month offer only), and once your church account is approved, you’re on your way!
I’m set now as are a few of my people from my church
So now I have Office 365 installed on my laptop at the church office, my computer at home, and I could put it on my tablet and phone is I wanted to. I can work on a file at home and pick up the same file at the church building and keep working on it. It’s great! Now if my hard drive dies (and it will someday!) all my files are securely backed up online. The church office has an account and so do four other people from our church (I encourage people to sign up, but…).
So all of this is a great deal, though it does make me sigh a bit that I paid $300 for two licenses for MS Office not all that long ago!