Microsoft will no longer provide a wide variety of on-premises software donations through TechSoup.

Microsoft recently announced upcoming changes to its Microsoft software donation program for 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. 

Microsoft will no longer provide a wide variety of on-premises software donations through TechSoup. The first signs that Microsoft was re-examining its approach to the TechSoup program came a few years ago when the company reduced its donated products listings with the discontinuation of remote desktop server user client access licenses (CALs) and core-based SQL Server licenses. Microsoft said then that it was focusing its charitable programs on small nonprofits and cloud services.   

A far more significant change is coming April 4th 2022. No longer will nonprofits be able to procure “donated” software from TechSoup to install locally on servers or workstations, whether that’s a volume license (limit 50) of the Office Desktop Suite for $52/each or core licensing for Microsoft’s venerable server operating system for $15/core pair

Microsoft says its donation program is now focused on its generous price breaks on its Microsoft 365 suite of services for qualified 501(c)(3) nonprofits (they are indeed generous!) and an annual grant of $3500 towards Azure services for those same organizations.  

Community IT has felt for a while that the Microsoft 365 subscription version of the Microsoft Office Desktop Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) is a better choice than the old-style volume license. The TechSoup option might have been cheaper up to the limit of 50 licenses per 2-year purchase cycle, especially for clients willing to skip upgrades.

But the “evergreen” subscription version of the Desktop Suite is still favorably priced for qualified nonprofits (without a 50-seat limit), and a subscription keeps your staff on the latest and greatest version with little to no fuss. Staying current is more important than ever as Microsoft regularly adds new integrations between the Desktop Suite and other Microsoft 365 services. Therefore, we fully support a push by Microsoft away from on-premise volume licensing for desktop products and toward cloud subscriptions.  

What About Servers?

The discontinuation of the Server Operating System donations to TechSoup will be a larger pain point for some of CIT’s clients. Similar to the desktop products, on-premises licensing could be cheaper than purchasing services in subscription form, especially when running older operating systems. We have clients still running instances of Windows Server 2012 (which remains covered by Microsoft Extended Support until October 2023). It’s not an operating system you enjoy logging onto to; it definitely feels old. But if the server is getting the job done, it’s easy to justify leaving it in place, and it’s certainly inexpensive once its original implementation is paid for. 

Still, Microsoft is right that on-premises server infrastructure is increasingly becoming a thing of the past for the smaller nonprofit organization. Many of our clients are already going serverless having moved all roles and applications into cloud services. For those for whom giving up servers is not yet an option, it’s true that servers can be set up in Azure, and our clients can use their $3500 annual Azure grant towards the cost. Azure has significant advantages also:  

  1. Hardware failure is not a risk (at least not the way a hardware failure was a risk when servers were running in a server room.) 
  1. The Azure cloud is available anywhere.
  1. Azure is going to keep you from falling behind with that 10 year-old operating system (it simply won’t be an option.)  
  1. You can easily add Azure resources when you expand and grow.  

Nonetheless, the bottom line is that some of our clients will be maintaining on-premises servers for a while longer and the changes to Microsoft software donation program and its TechSoup options may be a loss for them. We’ll be encouraging these clients to procure licensing they anticipate needing for upcoming projects before the April 2022 changes. 

Fortunately, Microsoft will continue to offer “charity pricing” which is available from TechSoup as well as other major Microsoft volume license resellers (CDW, Dell, etc.). At TechSoup, these products are listed as “discounted” instead of “donated” products. Charity pricing has historically been about twice as expensive as TechSoup’s donated product pricing but still roughly half the cost of retail/commercial licensing.  

Ready to support your staff with Managed IT?

At Community IT Innovators, we’ve found that many nonprofit organizations deal with more IT issues than they should have to.

Do you feel that a lack of knowledge around IT is hindering your nonprofit’s success?

Is your current approach to IT resulting in recurring issues that endanger the success of your mission?

Are you consistently behind on operating updates? Do you worry about impending cybersecurity issues?

Community IT has been serving nonprofits exclusively for twenty years. We offer Managed IT support services for nonprofits that want to outsource all or part of their IT support and hosted services. For a fixed monthly fee, we provide unlimited remote and on-site helpdesk support, proactive network management, and ongoing IT planning from a dedicated team of experts in nonprofit-focused IT. We regularly present webinars on all aspects of managing nonprofit IT, including IT budgeting to take advantage of discounts and donations, so that changes to the Microsoft software donation program won’t take you unawares.

If you’re ready to gain peace of mind about your IT support, let’s talk.