While I am conversant in technology and served as a Computer Consultant during college, I have never had to purchase a large amount of software for an organization before; and yet, that is exactly where I found myself last year. My organization was running Office 2003 and working to upgrade its mail server. The new server didn’t play well with Office 2003 and our IT person was busy trying to get things working properly. We needed the new software and yet fifty to eighty thousand dollars for new software simply wasn’t a possibility.
My response to many problems these days is to get online and look for a solution. Through some research I quickly learned that as a nonprofit my org qualified for substantial discounts through various programs. In the end we saved over forty to seventy thousand dollars off regular price.
If your company or a company you advise is a nonprofit it is important that you see if your org qualifies for these same discounts.
The first place to look is called Tech Soup. Tech Soup is a source of donated software and hardware. Orgs purchasing through Tech Soup are able to obtain substantial discounts. For example, instead of paying several hundred dollars per seat for Office 2010, a nonprofit can pay $31 per seat. Instead of paying thousands of dollars for a new computer, a nonprofit might pay hundreds.
Keep in mind that your nonprofit needs to go through a qualification process that can take a few weeks to a few months, depending on how busy the Tech Soup folks might be. As a result if you haven’t already qualified your organization, Tech Soup isn’t the place to go in an emergency. In some cases there are also additional qualifications based on budget or type of organization (religious organizations are not qualified.) Finally, there are some limitations for how many products you can purchase or how many times you can order from a specific vendor. For example Microsoft allows a lot of purchases, but only a limited number of times per year. Because of the limitations it is very important to plan out your Tech Soup purchases.
If Tech Soup doesn’t do it for you there are still a lot of other choices for your organization. Since we were in an emergency and I couldn’t wait for the qualification process, the company I ended up using for some of my org’s purchases is called CCBN-Nonprofits. I personally had a good experience with this company, but there are many others out there so shop around. When you purchase from a vendor besides Tech Soup your pricing will vary based upon how many seats you purchase. A seat simply means the number of people for whom you need to provide software. As a side note CCBN is an excellent choice for religious nonprofits.
Be sure you check out the number of seats you need and make certain you obey the licensing requirements. For example, my org needed copies of Office not only for each staff member, but also for the laptops we use for presentations. I made sure that we paid for enough copies of Office for every computer on which it would be installed. It is extremely important not to violate copyright law when installing software. You will get the best deal by buying everything you need at once, so consider buying an extra copy or two if you think you might be adding new employees or computers.
In the end, the lesson here is you can save a substantial amount of money if you take advantage of the numerous deals available for nonprofits. You will need to prove your org’s nonprofit status through appropriate documentation, once you do so you should have no problem qualifying for discounts through one company or another.
Good luck and happy saving.