Software is an unavoidable part of any nonprofit's budget. Even if your software is free or donated, implementing the software and training your staff to use it mean time and money. In this article, we'll talk about a few donation programs and discount resellers as well as a few software companies that donate products directly to nonprofits. Knowing what discounts and donations might be available to your organization, you can make a more informed decision about what software to invest time and money in.
Direct Donations and Discounts from Vendors
Several manufacturers provide nonprofit organizations with donated software if you're willing to jump through a few hoops. A few examples are provided here; for other software companies, check the company's website for the community or philanthropy section.
If your organization isn’t eligible for Microsoft product donations through TechSoup, you may still be eligible for discounts through Microsoft’s Volume Licensing program. Microsoft-authorized resellers cater to government, health, education, and charity organizations. If you are eligible for donations through TechSoup but have received your quota for the year, this is a great next place to turn. See Licensing Options for Industries for details.
Dynamics CRM Online is available to nonprofits at a discounted price directly from Microsoft.
For more information and resources, see Microsoft's NGO Portal.
Technology Leadership Grants: Through the Technology Leadership Grants program, Microsoft gives grants of money and products to a few national nonprofits. Past recipients include the American Lung Association, the American Red Cross, Second Harvest, and The Nature Conservancy.
If your nonprofit is unable to request Adobe product donations through TechSoup’s regular Adobe or Adobe Special Donation programs or you need more products than the partner’s restrictions allow, you can also buy products from an Adobe-certified reseller. Adobe maintains a list of resellers that sell substantially discounted products to nonprofits.
In addition to the donation program through TechSoup, donated ArcGIS licenses are available directly from Esri for schools, environmental organizations, and some other nonprofits. See the Esri Grants page for more information.
Donated FileMaker Pro licenses are available from Good360 (formerly called Gifts in Kind International). Read below for more information on Good360. If you need ten or more licenses, FileMaker also offers a volume licensing program for nonprofits. Any U.S. nonprofit with 501(c)(3) status is eligible. Discounted FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Server are also available through TechSoup’s program.
Discount Resellers and Donation Programs
Several discount software programs provide substantial savings to nonprofit organizations on many popular applications. While some resellers require only proof of 501(c)(3) status, others impose further eligibility restrictions.
Program Summary: TechSoup, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, distributes donated and discounted products from dozens of companies such as Microsoft, Symantec, and Adobe. A nominal administrative fee is applied to each product (usually less than 10% of the product’s retail value). There are no registration or shipping and handling fees.
TechSoup is a great first place to look for software donations and discounts (as well as refurbished hardware and online technology services). We carry the latest versions of Microsoft Office, Windows, Windows Server, Norton AntiVirus, and Adobe Creative Suite, as well as numerous offerings from smaller software companies.
Program Guidelines: All nonprofits must provide a copy of their 501(c)(3) documentation to be eligible for TechSoup donations and discount programs (valid U.S. public libraries are also eligible for many products). For donations outside of the United States, check with the appropriate TechSoup partner. For a list of eligibility restrictions by partner, please visit the TechSoup partner restrictions page.
Ordering: In order to request products, you must register yourself as an individual user and then register your organization. This tutorial will guide you through the process.
Program Summary: CCB Nonprofits provides discounts of up to 70% on many software titles to nonprofit organizations. CCB works with several software publishers including Adobe, Corel, McAfee, Microsoft, and Symantec. CCB has also secured special pricing with Acer, Apple, Dell, HP, and other manufacturers for hardware discounts.
Program Guidelines: 501(c)(3) documentation is required for nonprofit discounts. Discounts are also available for those in the health care industry.
Ordering: Organizations can place orders online or by phone.
Program Summary: Several software companies (Autodesk, Citrix, Novell, and more) coordinate product giving programs through Good360, which is a nonprofit organization. Good360 also offers donated office supplies, toys, clothes, and more. To cover costs, Good360 charges a handling fee. Good360 serves nonprofit organizations as well as American Indian reservations.
Program Guidelines: Good360’s annual registration fee is $150 if your organization's annual budget is less than $1 million and $300 if your budget is more than $1 million.
Ordering: Although Good360’s donation offerings change weekly, an up-to-date list of software and hardware donations is available here.
Program Summary: Genesis Technologies sells software and hardware to nonprofits, schools, and churches at discounted rates. Vendors include Adobe, CakeWalk, Corel, Microsoft, Quark, Symantec, and Wacom.
Program Guidelines: Customers must fax 501(c)(3) documentation to Genesis Technologies after placing an order.
Ordering: Organizations can place orders online or by phone.
The list of donation, discount programs, and sellers above is just a sampling of what products are available from major software companies for the nonprofit sector. If you find a piece of software that is way out of your price range, it never hurts to ask the manufacturer for a donation, or at least a discount. Smaller software companies may not have a philanthropy department, but might be willing to help a nonprofit out when they know your story and situation.
There are also an increasing number of resellers, discounters, and donation programs available to the nonprofit community. This article will never be able to capture and vet them all so it’s good practice to do some research on how they administer their donations and discounts – whether there’s a flat membership fee to access them, an administrative fee, or a commission charged for services.
It always helps to have a thorough understanding of the software you are looking for and what you will be using it for before you make a phone call, subscribe to a service, request a donation, or send a letter. Even if it’s available for a terrific discount, implementing software that you don’t need won’t help you meet your mission.
See TechSoup's Technology Planning section to gain a solid understanding of how new technology fits in with your organization's mission and share your resources for donated and discounted software in the comments below.