Microsoft Donates $1B in Cloud Services to Nonprofits
Microsoft is a major player in corporate philanthropy, both as an organization and through the efforts of founder Bill Gates, who donated $1.5 billion in 2014 alone. Now, the tech giant is continuing the trend.
On Tuesday, Microsoft announced in a pair of blog posts that it will donate $1 billion in cloud-computing services to 70,000 nonprofits over the next three years. That's an average of $14,285 in cloud technology for each organization—no insignificant amount, especially for smaller nonprofits.
It's all part of an effort to assist the nonprofit community, according to Brad Smith, Microsoft president and chief legal officer. Via his blog post:
It is vital that the cloud serve the public good in the broadest sense. While the marketplace is reaching a rapidly growing number of customers around the world, it is not yet benefiting everyone. If we’re going to realize Microsoft’s mission of empowering every person and organization on the planet to achieve more, we need to reach those that the market is not yet reaching. We need to reinvent our corporate philanthropy for the next decade, ensuring that we help empower people and organizations the cloud is not yet serving. This will require extensive efforts on a global basis that reflect varied needs around the world, oftentimes in ways that bring companies, NGOs and governments together in new public-private partnerships.
Smith noted that the initiative, which includes access to four different cloud-based resources—one of them a CRM platform for managing donors—will begin rolling out this year. Microsoft expects that 2016 donations will have a market value of $350 million.
In another blog post, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that the company believes cloud computing can play a "central role" in solving global problems, and that ease of access is critical if nonprofits and NGOs are to use "the public cloud for public good."
"If cloud computing is one of the most important transformations of our time, how do we ensure that its benefits are universally accessible?" she said. "What if only wealthy societies have access to the data, intelligence, analytics and insights that come from the power of mobile and cloud computing?"
While Microsoft announced it will not receive a tax deduction for the $1 billion in donated cloud software, some remained skeptical of the company's intentions. The Christian Science Monitor praised the move overall, but noted that it is a "practical effort to get more people to use the company's services." A commenter on The New York Times coverage of the announcement was less kind:
"Data-mining at it's best. Between this and the Microsoft 'education plan' to provide Minecraft for schools for more data, I can only wonder what other great ideas Bill 'Reformer' Gates comes up with to put more money in his pocket and snoop around into our children's lives. Don't be fooled. It's all about information gathering for maximizing profit."
The New York Times article indicated that Microsoft already donates an estimated $750 million a year in traditional software, and that the company will continue to do so independently of its cloud donations. Nonprofits can apply for the program here.