Microsoft, which has long been a contributor to various charities and nonprofits over the years, has announced the formation of a new program that would give participating nonprofits something they could actually use: licenses for Office 365.

The new effort, Office 365 for Nonprofits is part of Microsoft's broader Technology for Good program, and will deliver eligible organizations unlimited licenses of Office 365 Enterprise E1 for Nonprofits.

The program is only for organizations that have recognized charitable status in the 41 nations in which the program has been initially rolled out. So it doesn't include, for instance, nonprofits like schools or universities; trade associations; fundraising events or political organizations.

Though the number of users who can participate in this program is unlimited, it should be noted that the E1 plan is the cloud-only version of Office 365. If participating organizations want to upgrade to the Office 365 Enterprise E3 for Nonprofits plan, which includes additional features as well as desktop versions of Office 365 software, it will cost $4.50 per user/month.

And, of course, Microsoft will be classifying this software as a donation to the organizations involved in the program, which gets them a nice tax break in the various countries where the program is launching.

Still, while this may seem like yet-another cynical move by a big corporation to make points for charitable giving, the fact is that Microsoft's donation to nonprofits is actually providing a lot good. The cloud version of Office 365 has a lot of functionality, and nonprofits are still reeling from the global economic downturn and slow recovery.

In that context, free productivity software really hits the spot, and taken as a whole, this is a pretty nice program for nonprofits.