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Microsoft Software Donations Programme - FAQs

What is the Microsoft Software Donations Programme?

As part of Microsoft’s Affordable Access to Computing Programme, Microsoft operates the Software Donations Programme through the Charity Digital Exchange programme, providing support and software donations to eligible registered charities in the UK.

Microsoft UK’s aim is to build UK prosperity, both socially and economically, through their Citizenship programmes.

How can I find out if my organisation is eligible?

Please see Microsoft Eligibility Criteria for further information.

Which products are available through the Microsoft Software Donations Programme?

Please see the Microsoft Directory for further information.

How much software can my organisation request?

Your organisation's first donation request after 26 July 2011 marks the beginning of its recurring two-year cycles. Within a two-year period, each eligible organisation may request:

Eligible organisations are no longer limited to requesting donated products from a maximum of 10 title groups during their two-year cycle. Instead, organisations can simply request up to 50 licenses or 25 core based licenses of each donated product and up to 5 donated server products that don't use core-based licensing per two-year cycle.

  • After two years, a new cycle begins, and the Entitlement is reset.


Is there a minimum amount of products and software assurance that I need to order?

There is no limit to the number of times an organisation can make a Microsoft donation request within the two-year cycle, organisations can simply request up to 50 or 25 of each donated product and up to 5 donated server products that don't use core-based licensing per two-year cycle.

How soon will we get the License?

Once your order has been accepted and processed, you will receive your volume license activation email within 3 to 5 working days.

What format will my order come in, and how will I receive it?

Orders are fulfilled using Microsoft Open Licensing. This means that instead of shipping full packaged product and paper licences to you, you will receive:

  • An e-mail, sent to your organisation's registered e-mail address, advising you that your Open Licence order has been accepted and processed by Microsoft, which will include:
    • Your Authorisation and Licence Agreement numbers.
    • Directions on how to download licensing agreements from the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Centre website.
    • Product licence key codes that can be used with the media to install the software.

You will receive two types of licenses:

  • Software from the Charity Digital Exchange Programme is covered by an agreement between your organisation and Microsoft. You register this agreement at the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Centre website using the agreement license number and authorisation number sent to you by email from Microsoft. The agreement covers all products in your donation.
  • Individual software products need a license key or setup code for activation. For many products, you must retrieve a Volume License Key (VLK) from the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Centre website.

You can use the VLK or setup code to install the product only as many times as the quantity of that product in your donation.

License-only products such as client access licenses (CALs) are covered by the donation agreement but (with the exception of Small Business Server 2008 CALs) do not require keys or codes for activation.

What is Software Assurance? How does it apply to my donation?

Software Assurance is a Microsoft programme that allows recipients to upgrade licences to any new release of eligible products within two years of the initial request. This means free upgrades for software that comes with Software Assurance within this two-year period. Software Assurance replaces the need to request upgrades for your organisation's volume licences.

Additionally, if you return to the Charity Digital Exchange shop within the two-year ordering period to request additional licences for a product that has undergone a version upgrade, it will not count as an additional title toward the limit of ten titles per two-year period. The number of licences you order will, however, count toward the 50 licenses per title limit.

When you make a donation request for a Microsoft title or licences in the Charity Digital Exchange shop, the product description will state clearly if the product comes with Software Assurance. For products that come with Software Assurance, your organisation will receive free upgrades for two years from the time of your original donation request.

What should I do if I want to return my order?

Please note: If you have accessed the license keys on Microsoft’s Volume Licensing Service Centre website or installed the software, you will NOT be able to return the software.

If you want to return or exchange any of the Microsoft donated product you've received, you will need to return the entire Microsoft portion of your request and place a new request for the Microsoft items you want.

Since all Microsoft products are download-only, returns will be accepted only if none of the software has been installed, and you received the donation no more than 60 days previously.

If you want to return or exchange your Microsoft software donation, please email the Customer Service team of the impending return to

The donation limits on your account will normally be reset within eight business days after a return is complete.

Note that products available through the Get Genuine Windows Agreement for Small and Medium Organisations have different policies than products available through the standard Microsoft Donation Programme.

How can I find out more about Microsoft?

One of the areas in which Microsoft works, to make a difference socially within Citizenship, is through Community Affairs. Microsoft has successfully established an extensive network of non-profit partners who they work with to support community-based programmes and local projects which will enable more people to have access to technology. They give to a range of major charity projects both financially and through gifts in kind. In addition they support the investment of their employees in the community. For more information about Microsoft’s wider Citizenship programmes, please see Microsoft UK Citizenship.


You can also visit their Partner Profile.