Wouldn’t you love for your non-profit organization to have access to some of the tools that you use for business? Think about being able to collaborate on documents, securely share access credentials, centrally store policy and process information, have video conferences and more. Just imagine. But as we know from being in the private sector, all that software is really expensive, so how can you possibly make that work when your organization doesn’t make any money?
This was the struggle I was having.
I volunteer for a couple non-profit organizations and one, in particular, was in desperate need of some collaboration tools and secure password storage. It just so happened that one of the board members stumbled across a free-for-nonprofit program from Dreamhost for our web hosting a year prior, so it occurred to me that maybe other companies might do the same. So, I started to dig. And I was amazed at what I found.
Discovering Free Software
It turns out that many companies- from small to large- offer their products and services to non-profit organizations for free, or for a significantly reduced price. This includes things like Microsoft Office 365, box file storage, and even Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS.
The process to obtain these is surprisingly easy, but only so long as you know it’s out there, so I’m hoping that this article provides you at that first stepping stone, and then a bit of the basic steps you need to make it all happen.
Step by Step: Obtaining Free Software
First, you need copies of your non-profit documentation. For most organizations that means you need your proof of 501c3 status. You will also need your complete tax information, including your TAX ID or EIN, and your tax return for last year.
Next, login and create an account at techsoup. This is where you’ll need to provide documentation, tax IDs, etc. Techsoup is an aggregator for companies who are willing to provide free or reduced-fee software (and hardware) to non-profit organizations. My understanding is that companies like Microsoft leave the final qualification of your eligibility to techsoup, and techsoup makes a little money through small administrative fees and other sources. But the great news here is that you can obtain techsoup approval, and then all of the individual requests for software become incredibly easy.
Note that not all who are willing to offer software and services for free are registered with techsoup. For example, Dreamhost offers a very generous free shared hosting platform, and Password Boss offers a wonderful multi-user password manager database - again for free- but not through techsoup. What I’ve found is if you cannot find what you are looking for, try searching for the thing you need, and “501c3” or “nonprofit”, and you will often find something.
And if you happen to be someone who is looking to pay for a solution, can I suggest that you first try to give your money to one of these great organizations that so kindly offer their services to non-profits for free. I mean, seriously, how wonderful of these companies to give back?
If you’re looking for a little additional help or would even like someone to give you a hand to setup one of these services (Microsoft Office 365, for example, can be a little daunting to get setup for the first time), iuvo Technologies would be very happy to provide some of our time for free to get you started. Simply reach out to me at email@example.com or give me a call at 781-722-3211 and I’d be happy to get you pared up with someone to give you a hand.
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