Microsoft Philanthropies has committed to donating $1 billion in Microsoft Cloud Services to nonprofits and universities during the next three years. The commitment is part of a three-stage initiative by the software giant to use its cloud computing tools for the public good.
“We’re committed to helping nonprofit groups and universities use cloud computing to address fundamental human challenges,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said via a release. “One of our ambitions for Microsoft Philanthropies is to partner with these groups to ensure that cloud computing reaches more people and serves the broadest array of societal needs.”
Microsoft Philanthropies was created as an organization within the company focused on worldwide digital inclusion. The three-pronged initiative includes:
- Making Microsoft Cloud Services such as Microsoft Azure more available to nonprofits through the donation program. Microsoft Philanthropies anticipates providing services to 70,000 nonprofit around the globe over the next three years;
- Expanding the Microsoft Azure for Research program by 50 percent. The program grants free Azure storage and computing resources to aid faculty research at the university level. Over 600 research projects are currently provided free cloud computing through the program; and,
- Combining donated resources with last-mile Internet access and community training. Microsoft Philanthropies and Microsoft Business Development plans to support 20 public-private partnerships focused on connectivity and training in at least 15 countries by the middle of 2017.
The donation program will launch this spring and extends a similar Microsoft initiative that has provided resources such as Microsoft 365 to organizations over the past two years. Nonprofits currently using resources through the program will not lose them due to the new offerings and there is no “plug out” timeframe for organizations that receive cloud-based resources, according to a spokesperson.
Microsoft’s announcement has raised eyebrows in the industry as the company’s products serve as the backbone to other platforms in the industry. Sources have raised concerns that Microsoft’s donations could undercut such companies specializing in software for nonprofits.
Smith, in a blog post, indicated that he anticipates tech donations to nonprofits to near a market value of $350 million in 2016. Organizations interested in applying for tools such as Microsoft 365, Power BI Nonprofit and Enterprise Mobility may do so by visiting http://www.microsoft.com/about/philanthropies/product-donations/. Applications for products such as Azure will be taken through the same mechanism beginning this spring.