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FREE Microsoft Office for Charity & Non-Profit Organisations 

Microsoft 365 offer details

The Challenge 

MNIS Limited contacted the Hanseatic Union to make them aware of Microsoft’s free & discounted offerings to non-profit & charity organisations.  Taking advantage of Microsoft 365’s advanced productivity tools and data storage, document management and security solutions to help them become more flexible, streamlined and efficient.  The charity had applied in the past, but due to difficulty had postponed looking at it again until a later date. 

Following a short phone call to understand the organisation IT setup and discuss the offerings from Microsoft and how MNIS would assist. There were several issues that were impacting the organisations image, risk and efficiency that were identified. 

  • Staff were using new computers, but the version of Microsoft office was a legacy version, lacking the functionality of the latest releases, bug fixes and security updates.
  • The organisations emails were a mixture of Hotmail or Gmail accounts.  This meant that the organisation was not helping display a professional image by using a branded email address and no central manageability, leaving the organisation at security at risk.  Also, there was no facility to complete track and trace on emails sent or received. 
  • Backing up of data held on the local computers was the responsibility of the user.
  • Dropbox was being used for central file storage, it was on a subscription, but required upgrading due to the storage size.
  • Zoom was being used for online lessons and video calls in a secure and controlled environment for communication, but the calls were time limited as this was not a paid subscription. 

The biggest issue of all is that the charity had limited funds to deal with any of the above and limited time and knowledge on what was the best option going forward.   

The Solution & Benefits 

MNIS Ltd as a Microsoft Solution Provider (MSP), applied on behalf of the Hanseatic Union for the Microsoft offerings to charity organisations.  Three days after submission, Microsoft approved the application and provided a list of available offerings & discounts the Hanseatic Union could take advantage of. One of the main offerings available were 10 x free Microsoft 365 business premium subscriptions, additional licences were heavily discounted. 

MNIS reviewed the challenges effecting the Hanseatic Union and MNIS’ own business experience to provide a proposal to modernise the IT systems, taking advantage of the Microsoft free offerings.  The proposal was reviewed and approved at committee by the Hanseatic Union. 

The proposal included: 

Registration of a domain called 

Benefits: This was required to provide a unique email address and enable the routing of traffic like emails and website. 

It was not part of the brief to design a website, but for no additional charge MNIS signed the organisation up to a free website hosting site and designed a basic home page. 

Upgrade all machines software to use Office 365 and its suite of applications. 

Benefits: latest versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, Teams, OneDrive, SharePoint, PowerPoint, Access and Publisher applications.  Compliance with Microsoft terms and conditions.  Automatic updates of applications as they are released. 

Create new email accounts for all staff using 

Benefits: Separating the organization emails from personal.  Free personal emails like Gmail and Hotmail have a tendency to get blocked or go to junk.  Ability to run track and trace for emails. Better security and spam protection. Also provides the ability to utilise shared calendars, share an organization calendar with all staff for holidays, training days etc. 

Emails and contact addresses were migrated from Hotmail & Gmail to the new email accounts, with a forward to the new account and a reply message advising the sender of the change of address.  

Users can login to the email account from any device using a web browser from any machine or have it added to outlook on their local machine. Multi factor authentication can be introduced easily if required. 

Create shared and distribution groups. 

Benefits: a shared mailbox or distribution group does not require a license.  This could be an email address, the mailbox could be shared with 1 or more users, this way users have access to the emails to read and send from the email address. 

Enable OneDrive synchronization with local folders on all machines. 

Benefits: With the machine’s documents synchronized with OneDrive, if the computer were to stop working, the data would still be accessible so that it can be recovered back to a repaired or new machine.  The OneDrive data is secure and only accessible from the user login. 

Migrate from Dropbox to SharePoint.

Benefits: SharePoint is similar to Dropbox but is more user friendly.  It also facilitates users to collaborate and see when another user is in a file. 

Backups of email, OneDrive and SharePoint data. 

Benefits: Microsoft say that it is the organizations responsibility to protect and backup its data.  No security is fool proof and could just be a ticking time bomb. Altaro backup will be introduced providing a scheduled managed backup of email accounts, OneDrive and SharePoint 4 times a day offsite to a secure cloud storage location. 

MNIS managed the whole process, contacting staff, arranging dates & times to carry out the work, providing advice, best practice information and training were needed to users.  The implementation took roughly 1 day and was spread over a week to fit in with the user’s workload. 


Hanseatic Union Logo

We were lucky that MNIS called us, with their help and support we were able to secure the Microsoft offering for office. They have been exceptional in migrating all our software, email and files to the new cloud system, and have been on hand to offer tips and advice. We are a very small team, without an IT department, so having MNIS Ltd on our side has made a massive difference to the efficiency of our IT systems.

One of the things I love about MNIS is that you go to them with a problem, and they come up with a solution that not only solves the problem but is actually a better idea that moves the whole business forward.  I love these people and would recommend them to everyone working in the Charity sector.

Julie Chaplin