The Email You Can’t Live Without

If your nonprofit is still operating in the dark ages regarding email and calendars, pay attention.

Image courtesy of cicciodylan via Flickr

Image courtesy of cicciodylan on Flickr

Microsoft is now offering Office 365 for FREE. Office 365 includes services that only the biggest, most sophisticated nonprofits used to be able to afford:

  • Shared calendars among your whole team
  • User-friendly webmail that functions just like Outlook
  • Full integration with tablets and smartphones — all email folders, calendar, and contacts sync across multiple devices. For example, sent mail from one device shows up in sent mail on all other devices, and your office contacts automatically show up in your smartphone.
  • All data is stored in the cloud, making a lost/stolen device no big deal

SPARC began using Office 365 about two years ago. It changed everything about how we do business. When I found out Microsoft was beginning to offer it for free, I couldn’t believe it.

Now, all nonprofits everywhere have literally no reason not to use this product.

There are other options out there if you want these services — namely Google Apps for Nonprofits. I will speak from experience, though — I found Google Apps too scary to set up. Google’s approval was terribly cumbersome, and install and implementation seemed way over my head (and I’m pretty computer savvy).

Make no mistake: migrating to Office 365 is something I’d recommend hiring an IT contractor (SPARC used HyperFormance) or engaging a qualified, experienced volunteer to do for you. But this is a one-time investment for invaluable returns.

Want help deciding if this is the right product for you? Check out TechSoup’s article on the subject. (Please note: I am not an affiliate with Microsoft and receive no benefit for recommending their product.)

One last thing: if you, like me, are an avid user of mobile devices, then you could upgrade to a more advanced license for Office 365. This enables you to use full versions of Microsoft Office on your tablet and smartphone. You can create and edit documents directly on your mobile device. You can upgrade on a user-by-user license, so most of your team can stay on the free version, and only those often working out-and-about can use the upgrade (currently $4.50/user/month).

Question: What does your organization use for advanced email/calendaring?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 thoughts on “The Email You Can’t Live Without

  1. We are using the Outlook 365 product for email and we love it. It integrates well with the Windows Outlook application, and I like using it on my iPhone.

  2. We switched to the free Google Apps for Education back in 2010 and have never looked back. It has been immensely useful with our mix of in-office and remote staff and accommodates all different types of platforms across Mac or PC, even those who still prefer to use Outlook. I didn’t find it difficult to set up; the hardest part was coaching folks who had only used a pen & paper calendar to become comfortable with using the online shared calendar. The one feature we have mixed reviews on is Drive. For basic .doc or .xls sharing, it’s fine, but for some high-powered spreadsheets, Drive formats them incorrectly (we ended choosing another cloud service, SugarSync, for all of our file storage & sharing). The email & calendar, and especially gChat however… we couldn’t work without them, now! Seeing that my colleague in another state is active online, and that I can chat a quick question or ask if this is a good time to call to follow up on a previous message – this is an invaluable resource to us.