Is Office Pro Plus still a cost-effective choice for your charity?

Following the changes to Microsoft’s donation programme that came into force on April 1st  2018, a number of software packages are no longer available as donated products for charities on Charity Digital Exchange. These include some versions of Microsoft Office.

Microsoft has two versions of the desktop productivity software available at volume licensing (for multiple users) – Office Standard and Office Professional Plus.

The two versions have both previously been available to charities as donated software, but Office Professional Plus is no longer available as donated software on Charity Digital Exchange. Instead, it is sold as a discounted through authorised Microsoft resellers.

Office Professional Plus is still available through Charity Digital, but as a discounted product instead of a donation, at a far higher price than previously, while Office Standard will continue to be available as a donation at its current price.

Under this new model, it may no longer be cost effective to carry on renewing your Microsoft Office Professional Plus license. If your charity is thinking of buying or renewing Microsoft Office, read on to find out what your options are.

What you get with both


Office Standard and Office Professional Plus have most of the same features and applications – both come with the fully-functioning desktop applications Word, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher and Skype for Business.

All desktop applications in Office Standard and Office Professional Plus are the full-featured programs, which means each program comes fully equipped with the advanced features that are omitted in online-only versions of the software.

The core functionalities in both versions are also the same – both versions of Office are tightly integrated with Microsoft’s cloud storage applications including OneDrive, OneDrive for Business and SharePoint, so you can access your files across devices from the cloud.


What you get with Office Professional Plus


The only difference with Office Professional Plus is that it comes with one extra application – Microsoft Access, a database management application which works as a front end to databases such as Microsoft SQL Server.

This also includes some enhanced functionality around data management so that Access data can be linked to external sources and integrated with SharePoint Server.


The price breakdown


Product Price
Microsoft Office Standard £22
Microsoft Access £30
Microsoft Professional Plus £163


Although still a roughly 26% discount from the retail price, Office Professional Plus is now considerably more expensive than when it was available as a donation – Charities can now purchase Office Professional Plus through Microsoft’s discounted software programme at a price of £163, compared to the previous donated price of £30.

Office Standard is still available as a donation on the Charity Digital Exchange platform for just £22.

The only difference between the two is that Office Professional Plus comes with Access. Instead of paying more for Office Professional Plus just to get Access, charities can get donated versions of Office Standard for just £22 and then get Microsoft Access as a standalone product for £30, totalling just £55.

For that reason, it’s far more cost effective to go for the two donated products, than to take the discounted option.

Additionally, if you are already registered on the Charity Digital Exchange platform there are no extra steps to go through to get a new license, and all your donated software can be obtained from one place – simply make your donation request as usual.


Office 365

Alternatively to the above, organisations can get Office applications as part of a subscription to Office 365 – Microsoft’s cloud productivity suite.

Office 365 Business Premium, E3 and E5 versions of the suite come with both full desktop versions of Office applications, and browser-based lightweight versions for quick document editing and storing in the cloud. Access is included with Business Premium, E3 and E5 versions.

Or if your document needs are very light you may wish to move to Office entirely in the cloud. Online-only versions of Office applications with basic functionality come with the basic, free version of Office 365 (E1 or Nonprofit Business Essentials).

Office 365’s paid-for versions are available at a discount for charities on Microsoft’s website.

Other alternatives include G Suite, which comes with Google’s own in-browser versions of the main Microsoft Office applications.