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Choosing the Right Tech Foundation: G-suite vs Microsoft 365 for Nonprofits

Updated: Feb 16

Nonprofits need a solid foundation to build their work on. This tech foundation includes the right tools and technologies to help them communicate, collaborate, and create. While other options exist, two of the most popular options for nonprofit organizations are Google Workspace (G Suite) and Microsoft 365.


Both G Suite and Microsoft 365 offer a wide range of features and benefits for nonprofits. However, there are some key differences between the two platforms that may make one a better fit for your organization than the other.


In this blog post, we will compare G Suite and Microsoft 365 side-by-side to help you choose the right foundation for your nonprofit. We will cover the following topics:

  • Features and benefits of G Suite and Microsoft 365 for nonprofits

  • Pricing of G Suite and Microsoft 365 for nonprofits

  • Security and compliance of G Suite and Microsoft 365 for nonprofits

  • Ease of use of G Suite and Microsoft 365 for nonprofits

  • Support for G Suite and Microsoft 365 for nonprofits

We will also provide some tips for choosing the right platform for your nonprofit.

So, whether you are just starting out or you are looking to upgrade your current tools, read on to learn more about G Suite and Microsoft 365 and how they can help your nonprofit succeed.


 
Google suite logo with white background

G-suite for Nonprofits

G-suite is a suite of productivity tools offered by Google. It includes Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Forms, Google Drive, Google Meet, and Google Chat. These tools can help nonprofits to be more efficient and productive, and to collaborate more effectively with their team members.


Gmail is a web-based email client that offers a number of features that are beneficial for nonprofits, such as spam filtering, virus protection, and large storage capacity. Google Calendar is a web-based calendar that allows nonprofits to keep track of appointments, events, and deadlines. Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides are web-based word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation tools that allow nonprofits to create and collaborate on documents in real time. Google Forms is a web-based survey tool that can be used by nonprofits to collect data from their constituents. Google Drive is a cloud storage service that allows nonprofits to store and share files online. Google Meet is a video conferencing tool that allows nonprofits to hold virtual meetings with their team members and donors. Google Chat is a team messaging tool that allows nonprofits to communicate with each other in real time.


  • Pros:

    • Free for Eligible Nonprofits: Google offers G-suite for free to eligible nonprofits, making it an attractive option for budget-conscious organizations. For example, a small animal shelter could utilize G-suite to manage volunteers, track donations, and collaborate on outreach materials without incurring additional costs.

    • Ease of Use: With its intuitive interface, G-suite is accessible to users of all skill levels. This makes it a good choice for nonprofits with limited technical resources. For example, a volunteer coordinator with no prior experience could easily learn how to use G-suite to create and manage volunteer schedules.

    • Collaboration: Real-time collaboration on Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides fosters teamwork and communication. This is essential for nonprofits with distributed teams or volunteers who work remotely. For example, a fundraising team could simultaneously edit a Google Sheet to track campaign progress.

    • Integration: G-suite integrates with other Google services like Google Analytics, Google Maps, and Google Drive. This makes it easy to share data and collaborate across different departments and projects. For example, a development team could use Google Analytics to track website traffic and Google Maps to find potential donors.

Cons:

  • Limited Offline Capabilities: While Google Drive offers offline editing, some features may not be accessible without an internet connection. This could be a problem for nonprofits that work in remote areas or have unreliable internet access.

  • Privacy Concerns: Some nonprofits may have concerns about data privacy with G-suite, as Google is a US-based company. However, Google has a strong track record of protecting user data and offers a number of privacy features to help nonprofits control their data.

  • Limited Customization: G-suite may not offer the customization needed for complex projects. For example, a nonprofit that needs to create custom forms or workflows may find that G-suite is not flexible enough.


Nonprofit Discount:

Eligible nonprofits can access G-suite for free through the Google for Nonprofits program. This program also includes a number of other benefits, such as 24/7 support and a dedicated team of experts to help nonprofits get the most out of G-suite.

To apply for the G Suite Nonprofit Discount, you can follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Google for Nonprofits website: https://www.google.com/nonprofits/.

  2. Click on the "Get Started" button.

  3. Select "G Suite" from the list of products.

  4. Click on the "Apply Now" button.

  5. Fill out the application form.

  6. Provide the following information:

    • Your nonprofit's name

    • Your nonprofit's tax ID number

    • The purpose of your nonprofit

    • The number of employees you have

    • The website address for your nonprofit

  7. Click on the "Submit" button.

Once your application is submitted, Google will review it and contact you if you are approved for the discount. If you are approved, you will be able to sign up for G Suite for free.

Here are some additional things to keep in mind when applying for the G Suite Nonprofit Discount:

  • Your nonprofit must be a registered 501(c)(3) organization in the United States or Canada to be eligible for the discount.

  • You can only apply for the discount once every 12 months.

  • If you are approved for the discount, you will need to renew it every 12 months.


 

Microsoft 365 logo with light grey background

Microsoft 365 for Nonprofits

Microsoft 365 is a suite of productivity tools offered by Microsoft. It includes Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, SharePoint, Teams, and Power BI. These tools can help nonprofits to be more efficient and productive, and to collaborate more effectively with their team members.


Outlook is a web-based email client that offers a number of features that are beneficial for nonprofits, such as spam filtering, virus protection, and large storage capacity. Word is a word processing tool that allows nonprofits to create and edit documents. Excel is a spreadsheet tool that allows nonprofits to track data and create financial models. PowerPoint is a presentation tool that allows nonprofits to create and deliver presentations. OneNote is a note-taking tool that allows nonprofits to take notes and collaborate on documents. OneDrive is a cloud storage service that allows nonprofits to store and share files online. SharePoint is a collaboration platform that allows nonprofits to create and manage websites, intranets, and document libraries. Teams is a video conferencing and collaboration tool that allows nonprofits to hold virtual meetings and collaborate on documents in real time. Power BI is a business intelligence tool that allows nonprofits to analyze data and create reports.


Microsoft 365 is a powerful suite of productivity tools that can help nonprofits to be more efficient and productive. It is also affordable, with a variety of pricing plans to fit any budget. If you are looking for a productivity suite that can help your nonprofit to achieve its goals, then Microsoft 365 is a great option.


Here are some additional features of Microsoft 365 that may be beneficial for nonprofits:

  • Power Automate: This tool can be used to automate tasks, such as sending emails, updating spreadsheets, and creating reports. This can save nonprofits time and money.

  • Microsoft Forms: This tool can be used to create and distribute surveys. This can be a great way to collect data from constituents and donors.

  • Microsoft Stream: This tool can be used to create and share videos. This can be a great way to communicate with constituents and donors, or to train staff members.

  • Microsoft Viva Connections: This tool can be used to create a personalized intranet for nonprofits. This can help employees to stay informed about the latest news and events, and to collaborate with each other more effectively.


  • Pros:

    • Robust Features: Microsoft 365 offers advanced features like Power BI for data analysis, Power Automate for workflow automation, and Microsoft Teams for video conferencing. These features can help nonprofits save time and money, and improve efficiency and productivity. For example, a healthcare nonprofit could use Power BI to analyze patient data and identify trends, or a fundraising team could use Microsoft Teams to hold virtual meetings with donors.

    • Integration with Windows: Seamless integration with Windows OS ensures compatibility with existing systems. This can save nonprofits time and money on IT costs. For example, a nonprofit that uses Windows computers can easily integrate Microsoft 365 with its existing IT infrastructure.

    • Offline Capabilities: Unlike G-suite, Microsoft 365 provides extensive offline functionality. This can be a lifesaver for nonprofits that work in remote areas or have unreliable internet access. For example, a disaster relief organization could use Microsoft 365 to create and edit documents offline, even when they are in the field.

    • Security: Microsoft's robust security measures protect sensitive information. This is essential for nonprofits that handle sensitive data, such as donor information or medical records. For example, a mental health nonprofit could use Microsoft 365 to securely store patient records and share them with authorized staff members.

  • Cons:

    • Cost: Even with nonprofit discounts, Microsoft 365 may be more expensive than G-suite. However, the additional features and functionality may be worth the cost for larger nonprofits with complex needs.

    • Learning Curve: The complexity of some features may require additional training. For example, a nonprofit that is new to Microsoft 365 may need to invest in training for its staff to get the most out of each of the tools.

    • System Requirements: Microsoft 365's advanced features may necessitate upgraded hardware. For example, a nonprofit that wants to use Power BI may need to upgrade its computers to meet the minimum system requirements.


Nonprofit Discount:

Microsoft offers special pricing for eligible nonprofits, with discounts on various plans. Nonprofits can also apply for a grant to cover the cost of Microsoft 365.

To apply:

  1. Go to the Microsoft for Nonprofits website: https://nonprofit.microsoft.com/.

  2. Click on the "Get Started" button.

  3. Select the "Discounts and Grants" tab.

  4. Click on the "Apply Now" button.

  5. Fill out the application form.

  6. Provide the following information:

    • Your nonprofit's name

    • Your nonprofit's tax ID number

    • The purpose of your nonprofit

    • The number of employees you have

    • The website address for your nonprofit

    • The type of discount or grant you are applying for

  7. Click on the "Submit" button.

Once your application is submitted, Microsoft will review it and contact you if you are approved for the discount or grant.


Existing Users

Existing nonprofit users can apply for the discounts offered by Google and Microsoft. In fact, it is often easier for existing users to apply for discounts, as they will already have the necessary information on hand.

To apply for a discount as an existing nonprofit user, you can follow the same steps as you would for a new user. However, you will need to provide your existing account information, such as your username and password. You may also need to provide proof of your nonprofit status, such as a copy of your tax ID number or a letter from your government agency.

Once you have submitted your application, Microsoft or Google will review it and contact you if you are approved for the discount. If you are approved, you will be able to renew your existing subscription at the discounted price.



 

Apache Open Office logo

Honorable Mention - Open Office

Open Office is a free and open-source office suite that is a good option for nonprofit professionals who are looking for a basic, affordable suite with essential functionalities. It includes word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, database management, and graphics tools. Open Office is cross-platform, so it can be used on Windows, macOS, and Linux computers. It can also open and save files in Microsoft formats, so it is compatible with other office suites.


Advantages of Open Office for Nonprofit Professionals

  • Free and open-source: Open Office is free to use, so it is a great option for nonprofit organizations with limited budgets.

  • Cross-platform: Open Office can be used on Windows, macOS, and Linux computers, so it is a good choice for organizations with a mix of operating systems.

  • File compatibility: Open Office can open and save files in Microsoft formats, so it is compatible with other office suites.

  • Basic functionalities: Open Office includes all the essential tools that nonprofit professionals need, such as word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and databases.

Limitations of Open Office for Nonprofit Professionals

  • Fewer features: Open Office lacks some of the advanced features found in Microsoft 365 and G Suite, such as real-time collaboration and cloud-based storage.

  • Less integration: Open Office has limited integration with online collaboration tools, such as Slack and Zoom.

  • Support: Open Office has a smaller community of users and developers than Microsoft 365 and G Suite, so it may be more difficult to find help and support if you encounter problems.


 

Conclusion

Choosing between G-suite and Microsoft 365 requires careful consideration of your organization's needs, budget, and technical capabilities. G-suite's accessibility and cost-effectiveness may suit smaller organizations, while Microsoft 365's advanced features may appeal to larger nonprofits seeking sophisticated tools.


By weighing the pros and cons, along with real-world examples and available nonprofit discounts, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your mission and values.

Here are some additional considerations for choosing a productivity suite for your nonprofit:

  • The size of your organization: If you have a small team, G-suite may be a good fit. However, if you have a large organization with complex needs, Microsoft 365 may be a better option.

  • Your budget: G-suite is free for eligible nonprofits, while Microsoft 365 offers a variety of pricing plans. Consider your budget and the features you need to make the best decision for your organization.

  • Your technical capabilities: If you have limited technical resources, G-suite may be a good choice. However, if you have a team of technical experts, Microsoft 365 may offer more flexibility and customization options.

  • Your security needs: If you handle sensitive data, Microsoft 365's robust security features may be a better choice than G-suite.

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