Our Digital Leadership 101 programme gave us an opportunity to reach a wide range of groups we hadn't supported before and we were suprised to find that many charities were paying for their Office 365 subscriptions.  Admittedly this was a small fee per user per month, but when totted up even across a small organisation, this could cost hundreds of pounds a year.

Luckily, registered charities are able to switch their subscriptions to save costs.  It is a bit of a long winded process to migrate from an existing commercial (paid for) Office 365 subscription to a non-profit subscription but it is fairly straightforward.  You do need to follow a number of steps and we have outlined these below to help organisations make this transition.  Please note that you will need to be using an Office 365 Global Administrator account in order to complete this process.

Follow these 10 steps

  1. First register with Charity Digital Exchange. If this has not already been done, then the process can be started here.  There is a useful guide here that takes you through what to do. 
  2. Once registered, you will need to obtain a 'Validation Token'.  In the 'My Account' section navigate to the 'Validation Token' tab and click on the 'Add a new token' button.
  3. You will also need to know your Office 365 tenant name. It is the xxxx part of xxxx.onmicrosoft.com. If you don’t know what this is, please see this guide for assistance
  4. Once you have the validation token, you will need to contact Microsoft to enrol your organisation in the non-profit program. You may be able to do this by raising a service request, through the 'Admin Centre > Support> New Service Request'. Otherwise we could contact Microsoft on your behalf, but we may need to be your authorised partner to achieve this.  
  5. If you are asked for your Office 365 Tenant ID (not your Tenant name) then this can be found in the Azure Active Directory portal, see here for further guidance.  
  6. Microsoft will ask for the Validation token that you obtained from Charity Digital Exchange earlier. They will then validate this with Charity Digital Exchange (this is just to verify that you are eligible for the non-profit subscription).
  7. Once approved, you will be notified that this has happened, usually through the main email account registered for your tenant.
  8. To purchase the new plan, in the Office 365 Admin Centre, select 'Billing and Purchase Services', and then click on the 'Non-Profit Plans' tab. Select the appropriate non-profit equivalent of your existing plan. Please remember to select the number of licences that you require - you're not restricted in terms of numbers but you can also increase this in future. You can see your existing subscriptions under ‘Billing > Subscriptions’ in the Admin Centre.
  9. To switch users from the old plan to the new non-profit plan, you will need to remove the licence for the paid subscription and assign the licence for the non-profit subscription. This is achieved through the 'Admin Centre > Users > Active Users', select the user to be re-licenced, and click on the edit button alongside 'Product Licences'. In The product Licences window, you should see the original subscription as 'On' and the new subscription as 'Off'.  Click on the slider bar of the new subscription to turn this 'On' and click on the slider for the old subscription to turn this 'Off'. Check that the licences are correct and click on the 'Save' button at the bottom of the panel. I would suggest doing this for one user first and then when you are comfortable with the process, repeating it for the remaining users. For detailed information on this step, please see this guide. 
  10. Once all users have been assigned a licence on the new subscription and no users have a licence on the old subscription, you can cancel the old subscription. I would suggest leaving 48 hours before cancelling the subscription to ensure that all users have been reassigned a licence correctly. There should be no disruption to email and data access, as all you are doing is switching licences rather than actually transfering accounts.  To cancel the subscription in the Admin centre, go to the 'Subscriptions page', or choose 'Billing > Subscriptions'.  On the Subscriptions page, choose a subscription and from the 'More actions' menu, choose 'Cancel subscription'. Review the important dates, provide feedback about why you are cancelling, then choose 'Cancel subscription'.  Your subscription will now appear in a Disabled state, and will have reduced functionality until it is deleted.    


Need some help?

Superhighways has migrated 50 small charities to the Office 365 cloud and provides regular training on Office 365 apps. We can also provide bespoke training for your staff - get in touch with us if you would like to explore the full benefits of your charity's Office 365 subscription.


 This blog has been produced as part of our Digital Leadership 101 series of training and advice for CEOs and trustees of small charities, funded by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and run in partnership with The FSI, NAVCA and London Plus.