Free Microsoft Office 365 for Churches

Fall 2013: Microsoft has started giving away free accounts to its Office 365 product to non-profits, including churches. It has always offered non-profit discounts to 501(c)3’s but this is different.

This is entirely free. This is their flagship, full-featured Office 365 product.

  • Free Word
  • Free Powerpoint
  • Free Excel
  • Free Access
  • Free Outlook (email)
  • Free Publisher
  • Free Video conferencing

The biggest advantage for a church office is that ALL your files are automatically BACKED-UP on line as you work on them.

The other big advantage is portability:  Work on your files from anywhere, any device. 

The paradigm is shifting. The days of installing ‘standalone” copies of Office are numbered in your office. And the good news, is that you stand to GAIN from this evolution!

Read about Office 365 here, and sign up for a trial.

Why I’m recommending it…

I’m a Presbyterian minister who writes about tech subjects for churches and develops software for Christian education. Surprisingly, almost no one in the Church is talking about the advantages of moving church offices to the CLOUD.  Yet, they struggle with antiquated Office products, and File Backup is a major issue that they talk about, but most don’t DO anything about.   Office 365 solves that.

Please notice that I have no ‘ad’ for this product on this page. I don’t own MS stock, and I don’t work for them.


Office 365 is the ONLINE VERSION of Microsoft Office. It is computing in the “cloud”.

While “cloud” might sound like a scary buzzword to some, it makes complete sense for offices, and it’s actually where MOST SOFTWARE IS HEADED.  In a few years, you may not be able to buy a standalone version of Office anymore. It will just be available on the cloud by subscription, –or free if you’re a 501(c)3.  This evolution is made possible by today’s high-speed internet.

“Cloud” is just another way of saying the software and files are “online.”  You access them through your internet connection, and can do so from ANY computer.   If you use Google Docs or GMAIL, then you are already computing in the cloud. MS Office 365 is the same concept, but a different, more full-featured product.

UNLIKE Google Docs and Gmail, these are fully functional Microsoft Office designed “Office” products. You install free “Office apps” on your computer, which access and work with the files stored online.  If you don’t have the apps on your computer, you can access your files through your internet browser.  (Note: Windows 8 comes with pre-install Office apps which are designed to connect to Office 365, and can open your old files as well.)

  • When you click “save” the app saves the doc online to your cloud account.
  • When you click “open” to work on a doc, your app looks in your online cloud account.

These “apps” for each Office program give you all the functionality of the ‘standalone’ installed versions of Office product you have previously been used to.


Backup, Backup, Backup!  
Your files are securely stored and backed-up online. Your important church files are no longer stored on one harddrive that can break or be stolen. Microsoft’s servers are secure and are constantly backed up.

Portability:  Access and work and print on your files anywhere
Access from any internet connection. Work from anywhere.

Work from any compatible computer or device.  Your docs are saved online, not on one device’s harddrive (though you can save docs to a specific computer if you like.)

Allow others to access shared files and work on them together.

Did I mention it’s FREE?

It’s a matter of “WHEN,” not “IF”

Office computing “in the cloud” is here and will eventually be THE WAY most offices wordprocess, powerpoint, spreadsheet, and do email.  If you use Google Docs or GMAIL, then you are already familiar with computing in the cloud.

Transitions are hard, especially with entrenched staff. But Do not let techno-phobic staff and their poor tech habits hold back the normal progression of office innovation and SECURITY.  Teach them.

Make the transition BEFORE  your office harddrive CRASHES or gets corrupted or stolen.

Tech Transitions take time.

Your non-techie staff will GROUSE. But please remind them they work for church members who expect efficiency and the church’s data to be SECURE (not “backed up” by promises).  It’s the church members who decide how things should be done, and who ultimately pay for harddrive crashes, not staff.

You’ll want a GOOD high-speed internet connection, and at least Windows 7, if not 8, to make the transition go smoother.  So perhaps getting new computers is a good time to also transition to the cloud.

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