Three bonus Office 365 tools for charities

We highlight three useful Office 365 tools charities might not know about, beyond the obvious Word, Excel and Outlook.

Chloe Green | 19th Sep 18
Image shows an array of office tools such as pens, keyboard etc. We highlight three Office 365 tools charities might not know about.

More charities are taking advantage of Microsoft Office 365’s discounted non-profit pricing. But most get started with Microsoft Office 365 in order to be able to access the classic Office applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneDrive from the cloud – and never really take time to explore beyond the basics. This is a shame as there are some genuinely useful Office 365 tools for charities buried in the suite.

Here are three new, lesser-known apps within Office 365 that charities should know about.



Microsoft Office Sway logo

What is it?

Introduced as part of Office 365 in 2015, Sway is an app that helps you express ideas using an interactive, web-based canvas. Sort of like a web-based, shareable, user-friendly version of PowerPoint, Sway’s flexible design engine helps you quickly and easily produce professional, interactive and visually appealing designs such as newsletters and presentations.

Why is it good for charities?

The main draw of Sway over tools like Publisher or PowerPoint is that it needs little to no design experience to create something impressive quickly.

The app automatically adds your content such as images, text, video, social media posts or even entire PowerPoint presentations, and it creates a design for you to tweak as you wish – perfect for charitable organisations that want to create (or even get your volunteers, supporters or service users to create) something fun and informative, but are strapped for time and design expertise.

Screenshot of design view in Sway.

Alternatively, if you have a bit more time on your hands you can start with one of many blank templates and use the Sway editor.

Unlike PowerPoint it’s all stored online so you can access your sway from anywhere and share the link with whoever you choose.

Check out Microsoft’s article for more information on getting started with Sway.

How are charities using it?

Microsoft suggests Sway as a tool for creating internal communications such as training resources and newsletters in double-quick time.

The possibilities are endless, but Sway can be useful when running a specific event, as a way to share learnings with those that attended afterwards, or others that didn’t. Kingston Voluntary Action used it when hosting their recent Hack Day.

Alternatives: PowerPoint (Office), LinkedIn SlideShare  , Google Slides.



Microsoft Teams logo

What is it?

Microsoft Teams is a chat and collaboration platform that Microsoft announced would be replacing the Skype for Business online app within Office 365 last year. The idea is that Office 365 users now have a single hub within the suite for their voice, video conferencing and meetings that acts as a sort of virtual workspace for different teams to collaborate on ideas.

Why is it good for charities?

With Teams you get group chat rooms called channels in which different teams can talk and collaborate through text, voice or video chat. It’s also integrated with the other apps in the Office 365 suite such as Word and Excel, so Team members can view the latest versions of documents and collaboratively edit them.

This works well for charities because it allows them to collaborate by team, department or project, each with their own team site, and everything is recorded in Teams, so things are easy to organise and find instead of having to search through an email trail.

Go to Microsoft’s blog for more information on Teams.

Screenshot of Microsoft Teams
Image credit: Microsoft

How are charities using it?

Microsoft Teams has allowed Swedish charity Skånes Stadsmission to save time and travel costs now that teams in different locations can meet and share work virtually.

And for Singapore-based children’s charity AWWA, Teams are providing a seamless way to communicate across its various offices in the different ways they like to collaborate on information, whether it’s sharing files or more free-form brainstorming in the live chat. All of it is kept easily accessible for later, but secure.

Alternatives: Slack, Workplace (Facebook), Google Hangouts.



Microsoft Forms logo

What is it?

Launched as part of Office 365 in July 2018, with Microsoft Forms you can create surveys, quizzes and polls, and easily see the results as they come in.

Why is it good for charities?

It may be a small edition to Office 365, but it’s surprisingly versatile, allowing you to ask people for any kind of feedback or information in emails or websites, whether internally or externally – think volunteer feedback, and event organisation, measuring supporter interest, applications for services or the gathering of service user input that can be used to help guide decisions around your service delivery. Wherever you want to ask a question, it can be done through Forms.

Microsoft Forms screenshot
Image credit: Microsoft

The benefits are that it’s simple to set up and with real time responses and automatic charts built in, Forms makes it easy to understand the data right away. Forms also supports the addition of themes, logo, and images.

It’s a close rival to Google Forms, but a big draw is that it’s integrated with the rest of the Office 365 suite, so if you want your users to collaborate on a Form or share it, they can use it within other applications such as Teams, and Sway.

For more on how to use Forms, see the Microsoft blog.

Alternatives:  Google Forms, SurveyMonkey.


Does your charity make use of any of the tools above, or alternatives we haven’t mentioned? Leave your comment below or let us know on Twitter @CharityDigiNews