Microsoft believes technology can do amazing things. That's why they partner with thousands of charitable organisations around the world to help them all achieve their missions. Whether you’re a small organisation serving a single community or a global charity serving millions of people, Microsoft can help through software donations, training and resources.

The Microsoft software donation programme for charities and public libraries is one of Charity Digital’s most popular resources.

Eligibility and entitlement guidelines

For information about the types of organisations that are eligible for Microsoft donations through the Charity Digital Exchange programme and to check the frequency and entitlement quantity per organisation, see the pages on Microsoft’s eligibility and entitlement guidelines.

Volume Licensing products

All Microsoft products donated through the Charity Digital Exchange programme are Volume Licensing products.

This means that organisations and libraries must use slightly different procedures to install and track their software than they would for software obtained through a retail channel, such as a local store. They also have access to benefits that would not be available with retail software.

The information below lists some of the features of the Volume Licensing programme that organisations encounter frequently.

Volume Licensing Service Center

You use the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) — a Microsoft website — to obtain installation keys, download software, order installation discs, and access other benefits included with your Microsoft donation. The first step is to create an account on the VLSC website.

This account with the VLSC is separate from your Charity Digital Exchange programme account, and Charity Digital Exchange programme Customer Services has no access to it.

Each request you place through the Charity Digital Exchange programme is assigned an authorisation number and a license number. Charity Digital forwards these to you together with the information needed to set up a VLSC account if this is your first request.

Volume License Agreement and Product Use Rights

When you register at the VLSC, you agree to abide by the terms and conditions of your agreement. These terms and conditions establish general rules for use of the Volume Licensing software. Each application also has product use rights.

One product-use right that many organisations don’t know about is the right to install most desktop applications (but not operating systems) twice: first on your main workstation (your licensed device) and then on a portable device such as a laptop or tablet.

The original installation and the portable device copy must be the same version in the same language and the software on the portable device can be used only by the single primary user of the main workstation.

Software Assurance

Microsoft donations through the Charity Digital Exchange programme always include Software Assurance.

Software Assurance is a Microsoft programme that allows recipients to receive free upgrades to new versions of their products. Software Assurance adds value to your software donation in a number of other ways - your organisation can get: Microsoft e-learning courses, cold backups for disaster recovery, and multi-language packs.

Software Assurance benefits last for two years. Near the end of the two-year Software Assurance period, you will receive an email informing you that your Software Assurance is about to expire. This doesn’t mean that your product license will expire. You can continue to use the product, but you cannot access its Software Assurance benefits noted just above.

Installation media

For most products, if you need replacement discs or want to install software for different languages or versions, you can obtain the installation media from the VLSC. There is no charge to downloaded software installation kits, but you must convert the files (which are in ISO format) to a format that can be used for installation. You can also order products on disc for a charge of £15 per product.

For a few products, installation media is not available through the VLSC. For such products, call Microsoft Worldwide Fulfilment at 020 3147 4930. Worldwide Fulfilment charges a £16.00 shipping and handling fee.

If you receive an unusable disc through the Charity Digital Exchange programme, email You may also call us at 020 7324 3390.

Refunds and returns

If you want to return or exchange any of the Microsoft donated product you've received, you’ll need to return the entire Microsoft portion of your request and place a new request. An exchange consists of returning the items and then placing a new, revised request for the items you want.

If you received media disks, returns can be accepted only if the disks are in their original, unopened packaging, none of the software has been installed, and you received the shipment no more than 60 days previously.

If you want to return or exchange one or more items received through the Microsoft software donation programme, please notify Charity Digital Exchange programme Customer Services of the impending return by calling 020 7324 3390.

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

Other resources from Microsoft

A charity that has additional software needs should investigate Microsoft's Charity Open License program. This programme allows organisations to purchase Volume Licensing software at reduced prices.

See Microsoft’s charity website for information on grants, free software, help and training, and stories about how organisations are addressing common challenges with Microsoft technology.

Getting help

The Charity Digital Exchange programme features detailed guides of some Microsoft licensing requirements. One example is the Guide to the Volume Licensing Centre, which is linked to from every Windows Server product page.

You can also find valuable resources to help you select and maximise your Microsoft software acquisition in blogs and advice articles on the Charity Digital website.

Our Customer Service team can assist you with questions about the Microsoft donation programme — see Contact Us. Microsoft also offers online product support.