Microsoft Launches $5000 Azure Credit for Nonprofits

If you assist nonprofits with their I.T. needs, you may have noticed a flurry of announcements made in January about Microsoft’s plans to donate “$1 billion of cloud computing resources over the next 3 years to serve the public good” (from this official blog post).

I’ve been watching the Microsoft philanthropies home page for a while. Regarding Azure, it only says “coming soon”:

Azure for Nonprofits 1

Now here’s the trick:  ignore the “coming soon.” Scroll to the bottom of that page and choose Get Started:

Azure for Nonprofits 2

Follow the instructions to get a TechSoup Validation Token. If you’ve already validated your nonprofit status with TechSoup, this is simply a matter of visiting this page, choosing your country and language, and signing in with your TechSoup member ID. Copy a current validation token (create one first if needed), then back on the Microsoft site, enter the token it on the Sign In page.

A page comes back listing your available benefits. At the bottom of the page, I found Azure available as a benefit with a $5000 annual credit for this U.S.-based nonprofit. I’ve already signed up on their behalf, so now it shows the benefit as active:


Azure for Nonprofits 3

Signing up took only a few minutes, including getting back the welcome email. After that, you create a new Azure account from this link. A credit card is required in case you go past your $5000 limit. The Azure account now shows the $5000 balance:

Azure for Nonprofits 4

A Microsoft representative explained that Azure for Nonprofits started its “soft launch” on August 3 and that it will roll out more broadly in September. Although the credit expires after one year, he said they plan to do an “annualized refresh,” i.e. this is a perpetual donation, not just a first-year-free promotion.

You can do a lot with $416 a month in Azure credits. That’s more than enough to run a couple servers in the cloud and still have plenty left over to pay for storage, backups, etc. Thanks, Microsoft, for helping support nonprofits!

Update 3 October 3 2016

An astute reader submitted this September 26 blog post by

Bringing more cloud power to serve nonprofits


29 thoughts on “Microsoft Launches $5000 Azure Credit for Nonprofits

  1. Rick

    Do you see any way that Azure credit could be used for Azure AD Premium, Intune, or maybe even EMS?

  2. Rick

    Yes, unfortunately there’s a clause in the sponsorship email that eliminates a whole swath of things: “Special pricing does not apply to Microsoft Azure support plans, third-party branded products, products sold through Microsoft Azure Marketplace, or products otherwise sold separately from Microsoft Azure (for example, Active Directory Premium).”

    We got pretty close to getting the credit, but it fails on the last step, the MS link that has you create the Azure subscription. It’s quite odd, as it says “This offer is not available for your account,” even though we’re using the very account mentioned in the email. Perhaps it’s not completely up and running yet. We contacted support, so might hear back.

  3. Mark Berry Post author

    Are you trying to apply the credit to an existing Azure account? I created a new Azure account _after_ getting the credit email. Actually, I did it during the onboarding call a couple days later, so yes, there could have been some time provisioning. Let us know if you get it sorted out.

  4. Rick

    Yes, the “account ID” mentioned in the email (the email mentioning $5,000, etc), which is also the address that Techsoup knows. It should have been a slam-dunk, since, if anything, it should have been less confusing for Azure than if we’d used an account that they weren’t expecting, like you did. The MS email even says “Create a new subscription on the Microsoft Azure Sponsorship offer by clicking on this link and sign in with your account ID above.” That account ID is the email we’re trying.

    We didn’t go the onboarding route like you, so there definitely could be a time element here, but either way we’ll find out soon enough, and I’ll report back. Thx.

  5. Rick

    It took a couple days, but support got it worked out. The issue was that the account we were trying to use was from an “older platform” when they’ve since migrated to a “newer platform.” So the account needed to be “flipped” by the engineering team to that platform. That all sounds pretty odd, but all’s well that ends well.

  6. Mark Berry Post author

    Rick, thanks for the follow-up. Glad to hear you got it sorted! And that support knew what to do…

  7. Radule_bgd

    I was also received an email about Azure conformation but when l go to create subscription from same mail I am receiving Microsoft Azure Sponsorship is not available.
    This offer is not available for your account. Why is that?

  8. Mark Berry Post author

    Radule-bgd, are you talking about the $5000 non-profit subscription? It looks like you are in Belgrade. This offer may not be available outside the US. I would contact your local Microsoft office to inquire.

  9. Tom

    Is this a one-time benefit for only one year, or an annual benefit that can be renewed annually??

  10. Mark Berry Post author

    Tom, please see the paragraph beginning, “A Microsoft representative explained….”

  11. Rick

    Though the FAQ ( says “As long as your nonprofit remains eligible, you can reapply each year.”

    One hopes that they don’t mean from scratch.

    I don’t actually think the FAQ is gospel, since I see two errors in the Azure section alone:

    Q: What Azure services can I utilize with the $5000 (USD) credits?
    A: You can view the whole list of services here.

    That “list” includes things such as AAD Premium….

    Q: What about Azure Active Directory? Isn’t it a part of Enterprise Mobility?
    A: You have the option to pay for Azure Active Directory each way. Either through this credit, or by purchasing Enterprise Mobility licenses through our nonprofit portal.

    Yup, know about EMS in the portal, but as for AAD via the credit, um….

  12. John

    Confused – so can this be used to get AAD basic and/or premium, or not?

  13. Rick


    I eventually did figure out despite sloppy FAQs that the credit is not applicable toward upgrading Azure AD.

  14. Mark Berry Post author

    @John – It looks like the FAQ has been updated since Rick’s comment above on March 27, 2017. From

    Can I purchase Azure Active Directory Premium with this credit?
    Azure Active Directory comes in four editions: Free, Basic, Premium P1 and Premium P2. The Free edition is the only one that can be used with this credit.
    However the Enterprise Mobility + Security suite, which contains the other versions can be purchased at nonprofit rates through our nonprofit portal.
    See edition overview here:

    So basically, NO, you can only use the Free version, which I assume you would get free anyway.

  15. Bob Groger

    My client just got this email. So much for the annualized refresh.

    Dear Customer,

    In just a short time your Microsoft Azure sponsored account concludes. We hope the sponsorship has given you the opportunity to push Azure to its limits and your business to the next level.

    At the end of 10/14/2017 your sponsored account with the subscriptions listed below automatically converts to standard Pay-As-You-Go rates so you can continue to take advantage of Microsoft Azure:

    We want to keep in touch! If you have any questions, please contact your Microsoft account manager.


    Azure Business Desk

    This email is generated from an unmonitored alias. Please do not reply. For questions regarding your Microsoft Azure Sponsorship, please submit a request to support.

  16. Mark Berry Post author

    Bob, that’s interesting. It sounds like they had an invitation-only sponsored account as described here:

    I wonder who got those invitations. Is it a non-profit? Apparently that is not the same as an account that you apply for through Microsoft Philanthropies. Here’s the renewal email I got in July for one of my customers:

    Greetings from Microsoft Philanthropies,

    Thank you for choosing Microsoft Azure to make the world a better place. We wanted to let you know that your current Azure grant renewal date is 21 day(s) away. If you would like to renew for another $5,000 (US) Azure Credit, please click below.

    [Click Here to Renew]

    You can renew at any time, even after expiration. If you choose not to renew, the credit card associated with your current Azure account will begin to incur usage charges after your grant expiration date.

    We are proud to support organizations like yours and are thankful for all you do in your communities.

  17. Bob Groger

    They are a non-profit and applied with a code from TechSoup. They hadn’t done much with Azure, maybe the renewal goes to people that actually run their organization with it. I will make some inquiries….

  18. James Burns

    Please let us know – we just got the termination email too, and would very much like to renew. Thanks, James

  19. Rick

    Very strange that we’re getting different emails, assuming we all applied the same way. Our non-profit received the one that Mark quoted (i.e. what we expected), also back in July.

  20. Bob Groger

    I am wondering if the Terms Of Service when you signed up were different than when we signed up in October?

  21. Mark Berry Post author

    You might also try an Azure support ticket from the customer account. If you choose type “Subscription management,” there should be no charge.

  22. Mark Berry Post author

    Bob, James, any update on this? Were you able to figure out what is different about your subscriptions?

  23. Randall Myers

    @Mark, Bob: We were in a similar situation as Bob. First, we got an email telling us that the subscription will be converted to a standard one. However, within 24 hours we got a second email from Microsoft Philanthropies which had a link to renew the sponsorship (like the one Bob showed above).

  24. Mark Berry Post author

    @Randall, thanks for that. I assume you mean the renewal email that I posted above. That would be good news if the first email you received–the one saying the sponsored account is expiring–was just a mistake and that renewals are still being offered.

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