Office 365: Best Option for Small Church

Hi, I’m the office manager/IT support at a small church. We want to move everyone in the office to MS Office 365. We are a mixed PC/Apple environment of no more than 10 users. 3 of those are part-time and one is iPad only (he will need OneNote). Funds are limited. We will be replacing our 8 Evernote Premium subscriptions with OneNote. We will be phasing out an old Windows Server in favor of OneDrive as well. We no longer need the server to host ACS, and have gradually been using Dropbox more and more for file sharing, but have run into the paywall. Dropbox would be replaced by OneDrive. Currently, I am using an Office 365 Home subscription and sharing the subscription with the other 2 secretaries. Wading through the choices for nonprofits at Microsoft has left me confused. Your thoughts would be appreciated.

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From Microsoft’s website:, here you can compare the plans for nonprofits. Right now, I have an organization with out 90 users. We use the free E1 license for almost everyone, only myself and our missions pastor have the E3 license (he needs office with edit on his iPad Pro). We all use OneNote, OneDrive, and their Office apps as well.
Simply apply to TechSoup, show them your tax exempt form, and then request licensing with your Office 365 account. It was a process for us to move away from on-premise exchange and evernote, but it took me less than two days to have the accounts ready. Your timeline will vary.

If you want some help or guidance, there are several church-directed IT companies that could help you with the migration or just helping you set up the accounts. I’m sure they’ll post something once they see this listing. We use for help on big projects like that.


First off, I applaud your efforts here. I think you’re absolutely headed in the right direction!
My suggestion is to sign up for the Office 365 E1 for Non-Profits plan. As long as you are a registered 501c3 organization, that plan is 100% free. Be careful to NOT choose the “Business Essentials” or “Business Premium” offerings. While those might meet your needs today, the E1 plan offers more features and flexibility, so take the bigger product for the same price (free)!

The link below will take you to the Microsoft site which will guide you through the process of getting signed up and on your way.

One thing that often confuses people is the E1 plan (again, for free) does NOT include the installable Office Pro Plus applications for your workstations. However, you can add that product as an “add on” for each user who needs that license. The cost for that add-on is only $2/user/month.

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I’ll also add the note that while Office365 Pro Plus for $2/month is also a bargain, we usually find it easier (and slightly cheaper) for our customers to spend the $29 to get the perpetual license (also through TechSoup), and not have to worry about the monthly fees.

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That is absolutely a viable option for Office licensing, but it’s important to note the Pro Plus version is actually $40 for perpetual. Granted, most users only need standard, but the Office 365 license only provides Pro Plus. And it also allows for users to install up to 5 copies (home computers, kids computers, etc.) whereas the perpetual license only allows a single installation and only on church-owned equipment.
Like I said, perfectly acceptable in many cases, but there are additional benefits provided by the O365 subscription licensing for Pro Plus.

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Travis, those are excellent points. As many our non-profit customers are considering upgrades in the near future, we should definitely be offering that as an option. I also haven’t verified this, but I suspect that would also help some organizations get around the “50 copies per product class every 2 years” restriction, too.

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Thank you everyone. It’s the various plans that are so confusing to someone who only has to look at this every couple of years. Going for E1 for most of us, with the $2 upgrade for the installable version for a couple of users. It looks like I will eventually be able to move off of our scheduling software as well. Your help has been a blessing to me.

You’re exactly right. With Office 365 E plans there is no limit on the number of licenses you can get (either free or the $2/user/month ProPlus add-ons)

We’ve been using the non-profit o365 since 8/1/15. I love it. We have just started really using SharePoint for teams…mostly for file storage but will soon launch calendars and forums and the whole boat. I would absolutely suggest you go the o365 route. There is also the perk for your employees, if you go with one of the installed options, employees can also install it at home. As non-profits we don’t often get to give our employees perks. It felt nice to extend that small opportunity.