On Tuesday, Microsoft announced that Office 365 for Nonprofits is now available as a worldwide donation program.
Juan Carlos Perez reported on the development on behalf of IDG News Service with details of the program and speculation around the motivations behind it.
"Nonprofits are seeing more and more the advantages of cloud computing, but they often can't access it because of costs and other reasons," said Lori Harnick, general manager of Microsoft's Citizenship & Public Affairs group.
Now, nonprofit organizations are able to sign up for Office 365 for free or at a reduced price. Certified nonprofits and NGOs in 41 countries can apply to the Office 365 for Nonprofits program, and Microsoft expects to offer the program in 90 countries by July 2014.
On Thursday, TechSoup Global announced the launch of a new service on its platform in partnership with Microsoft to quickly and reliably verify if an organization is a registered non-governmental organization (NGO) and qualified to receive donations of Microsoft Office 365 for Nonprofits. The press release detailed that the new service enables Microsoft to scale its donation of Office 365 for Nonprofits:
"TechSoup Global’s worldwide network of partner NGOs ensures that these validation services are scalable, reliable, and consistent, while being appropriately tailored to the local context."
NetHope Interim President and Executive Director Frank Schott believes cloud solutions may no longer be as out of reach in the developing world as was once thought thanks to programs like this. In a blog post earlier this week, Frank discussed the benefits of cloud solutions for nonprofits and NGOs working in the developing world.
“For many years, it was thought that cloud solutions were out of reach for those working in the developing world. Because many organizations lack the basic connectivity that users would need to access their applications and data, it seemed improbable that it would catch on quickly. However, I’ve been struck by how quickly various innovations are coming together simultaneously making cloud solutions well within reach – and highly desirable – for most organizations working in the developing world today. With today’s announcement from Microsoft that Office 365 for Nonprofits is now available to NGOs worldwide as a donation, it’s likely to become even more appealing.”