10/10/2013 05:28 pm ET Updated Oct 11, 2013

Doing More Good, One Click at a Time

This week Microsoft released its 2013 Citizenship Report, an annual account of our corporate citizenship work around the globe. One component of that effort is our work with nonprofits. These organizations have a tremendous ability to address global issues, including disease eradication, literacy, and environmental sustainability. We know that by helping nonprofits to focus on their missions, we support a wider number of causes that go far beyond our own Citizenship efforts and areas of expertise.

Nonprofits operate in the same way as any other organization or business, but many lack the resources to implement the latest technology. That's unfortunate because, as a recent study by the Boston Consulting Group demonstrates, small and medium-sized organizations that lead in adoption of the latest Information Technology far outperform their peers who do not.

While different from for-profit entities in purpose and legal structure, of course, the fact is that nonprofits have the same technology needs as commercial businesses. Their employees need to collaborate effectively and efficiently, whether they are sitting at their desks or out in the community doing research or leading programming efforts. They need stable and secure access to their files. Quite often, they need to streamline their IT since they may not have resources for full-time tech support staff and must spend their limited funds on furthering their missions instead of server maintenance.

Nonprofits often find themselves having to choose between critical infrastructure maintenance and helping the communities that they serve. They might have to choose between buying a new server and funding a new after-school program for at-risk youth. They might have to choose between upgrading their productivity software and hiring researchers to seek a new vaccine. That is a choice they should not have to make.

Microsoft tries to play a role in helping nonprofits avoid that choice. In fact, we believe we have a responsibility to do so. We lend a helping hand through programs like Technology for Good, which provides software donations to nonprofit organizations all over the world. As our 2013 Citizenship Report details, we launched a pilot program making Office 365 available to nonprofits as an addition to Microsoft's existing software donation program. We learned that we could make a big difference in their day-to-day work by offering the cloud-based product as a donation, so in September 2013 we decided to bring Office 365 for Nonprofits to nonprofits worldwide. We launched the program in 41 countries, and we'll roll it out in up to 90 countries by July 2014. There's no cap on the number of nonprofit employees who can get on board, whether the organization has 10 employees or thousands.

Adopting cloud-based Office 365 offers nonprofits big advantages. In a study by our software donation partner TechSoup Global, nonprofits reported that the top four advantages of cloud computing are easier IT administration (79 percent), cost savings (62 percent), improved collaboration (61 percent) and data security (54 percent).

"Office 365 has been vital to the work we do, which by its nature is cross-organizational and spans the globe," said Erik Arnold, chief information officer of PATH, an international nonprofit that transforms global health through innovation. "For example, now our Malaria Vaccine Initiative team can collaborate across geographies, accessing their files no matter where they are in the world."

If you work for a nonprofit, you have our gratitude for all you do to serve your communities. We hope you will apply for a donation of Office 365 for Nonprofits. If you have a favorite nonprofit, please send them this information so that they can learn how to apply for a software donation. And be sure to share this video on your social networks. By spreading the news about Office 365 for Nonprofits, together we'll do more good.