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Your Guide to Microsoft Donations Through TechSoup

Elliot Harmon and Matthew Palmer

The Microsoft Software Donation Program for nonprofits and public libraries is one of TechSoup's most popular resources. Hundreds of organizations request Microsoft product donations every day, but unfortunately, many don't take full advantage of everything the Microsoft donation program has to offer. By understanding Microsoft's donation limits and anticipating your nonprofit's future technology needs, you can be sure to maximize your benefit through the program.

In this article, we'll outline Microsoft's donation restrictions and limits and offer some tips on how to get more out of your donation by summarizing the rights and privileges that come with Microsoft's Software Assurance program. We’ll also provide advice on technology planning so that you can make donation requests in line with your organization's present and future needs.

Is My Organization Eligible for Microsoft Donations?

Microsoft allows certain types of nonprofits and public libraries to request product donations. For information about which organizations are eligible, see the Microsoft restrictions (the restrictions are also listed at the end of each Microsoft product description).

If you're not sure whether your organization is eligible, you can find out by using the handy eligibility quiz. In addition, for all donation requests, TechSoup verifies that your organization type is eligible for the donation after you have added products to your cart. You can use this process to determine your eligibility even if you aren't ready to make a donation request.

Of course, donations are still contingent on TechSoup Stock customer service qualifying your organization. For more information, seeRegister and Qualify at Getting Started at TechSoup Donations page.


Understanding Microsoft's Donation Limits

If your organization is eligible to receive Microsoft donations, you may request software from up to 10 title groups in every two-year cycle. For title groups that contain desktop products or license-only products (like CALs), there is a 50-product maximum. There is a 25-product maximum for title groups that contain server products that use core-based licensing. For server products that do not use core-based licensing, there is a five-product maximum, regardless of title group. This two-year cycle is based on the date that you placed your first Microsoft request.

For donation purposes, Microsoft defines a title group as functionally similar or interchangeable products. They may vary by language, edition (eg. “Standard” and “Professional”), version, or CPU version. For example:

  • If you request Exchange Server 2010 Standard Edition and 50 User Client Access Licenses (CALs), that counts as two of your ten titles, and one server product out of five.
  • Similarly, different languages of the same product are part of the same title group. Requesting 10 licenses each of Office Professional 2010 English, Office Standard 2010 French, and Office 2011 Standard for Mac Spanish would count as 30 against your 50 licenses for the Office products’ title group, but they would all count as only one of the ten title groups allowed.

You can make as many Microsoft donation requests as your tech planning requires, as long as the sum of your requests does not exceed 10 software title groups and 50 licenses per group, with server products not exceeding five in total in this two-year cycle. At the end of the two-year cycle, your limits reset. You cannot carry over unused titles or licenses from one cycle to the next. Fore more details visit our Microsoft Donation Program Eligibility and Allotments page.


Take Full Advantage of Each Microsoft Request

To find out how much you can request, log into your “My Microsoft Donations” page and check what Microsoft software you've already received and are still eligible for in your two-year cycle.

For example, if you requested donations from six Microsoft title groups but only 20 licenses of each in your first request of the two-year cycle, you can request up to 30 additional licenses of a product within each of those title groups at any time until the end of your two-year cycle. You would also be eligible to request donations for four other title groups, up to 50 licenses each.

For server products and licenses, read the product descriptions very carefully to make sure that you're requesting the correct number and type of licenses. For more information, see Making Sense of Software Licensing.


Planning Ahead to Maximize Your Donation

Much like preparing finances for your annual budget or for grant proposals, planning for technology should be at least an annual exercise. It's good to plan thoroughly by taking an inventory of your organization's current and future tech needs. If you plan ahead by taking the following steps, then you won't find yourself stuck without the software you need to do your work.

  • Take a Tech Inventory

At the end of this article, you can download a spreadsheet to assist you in a quick inventory of the software your organization has and what you'll need.

To find out if you have all your software bases covered, take a look around at what your organization currently has. In the tech planning spreadsheet, fill in the Current Quantity of Licenses column, listing the number of licenses your organization has for each software program.

  • Determine Your Needs

The spreadsheet lists important categories of software that many nonprofits need, but feel free to add any special tools that help support your mission. It pays to consider the tasks that people in your organization do most — email, share documents, crunch numbers, etc. — and visit our Microsoft donation program page to research which tools best meet your needs.

  • Fill in the Gaps

To make sure there aren't any holes in your planning, consider the number of people in your organization (including new hires, volunteers, or interns expected over the coming year) and fill in the Quantity of Licenses Needed column for each software program listed. Make sure you've checked off at least one product in each category.

  • Look Ahead


Thinking ahead over the next 24 months, here are some questions to consider as you finish your tech planning:

For more information on tech planning and taking an inventory of your tech infrastructure, consult TechSoup's Tech Beginner’s Guide.


Taking Full Advantage of Microsoft Software Assurance

Do you put off requesting Microsoft software because you think it will soon become outdated? Are you waiting until you can have the very latest version? Software Assurance is a benefit offered by Microsoft that allows you to receive complimentary upgrades on most Microsoft software anytime within two years of your initial request from TechSoup. With the Microsoft Software Assurance program, you can:

  • Receive complimentary upgrades for two years on most Microsoft software that you receive from TechSoup (there will be a one-time shipping cost for some products if you wish to receive media)
  • Request backup CDs or replace missing discs
  • Access online product training
  • Obtain special licenses for using some products on your home computer

Most Microsoft products available through TechSoup include Software Assurance – look for the words "Includes Software Assurance" in the product name.

You can only use Software Assurance to obtain upgrades that released within two years of the date you originally requested the software from TechSoup. You can still request free upgrades after your Software Assurance has expired, but you can upgrade only to versions that released before the expiration. In addition, Software Assurance upgrade requests must be obtained directly from Microsoft and do not count against your TechSoup limit of 10 title groups by 50 licenses.


More Information

This page outlines all the key points about the Microsoft Donation Program.

View three closed-captioned videos that explain important aspects of the program.