In a debate that rages as loud, and as long, as Ford vs. Holden and Apple vs. Android, it seems that if someone has an opinion about which to use between Microsoft and Google, it’s a strong one. Each of them offer similar functionality – calendar, e-mail, cloud storage, document creation and collaborative editing. Whilst our own personal files can sit in our preferred system, when it comes to a church team operating well, there must be one system in use.
Which, then, is the best system to utilise?
It depends, really.
There are some factors that may sway you one way or another, and ultimately, it’s up to each team as to what works for them and what system they are most comfortable using. The answers to these questions are hardly ever black and white. Here are the facts:
Both Microsoft and Google offer non-profit programs that make their systems either free, or remarkably low cost.
Google’s offer ranges from $0 to $7USD a month per user, with each tier offering more benefits than the previous. It includes access to all Google applications – Sheets, Documents, Drive, etc. The free version allows up to 100 participants in a meeting, with no cloud storage of meeting recordings, whilst $7USD offers a 250 person maximum and allows recordings to be stored in the cloud.
Microsoft ranges from $0 to $6.90AUD a month per user, with a similar system to Google. The free version gives up to 300 users access to the web version of Word, Excel and Powerpoint, and paid versions include access to the desktop applications. All versions include Exchange, OneDrive, Teams and SharePoint, with a maximum of 300 users in a single Teams meeting for the paid version.
2. Non-Profit Program Eligibility & Agreements
The non-profit terms and conditions do, however, contain some issues that require consideration. The first of these is within their expectations of the customer, and reads:
Your organization does not discriminate against any person or group of people in either hiring/employment practices or in the administration of programs and services, including on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Microsoft, in this regard, takes guidance from a country’s laws surrounding a religious organisation’s right to hire those who believe and uphold the same faith as they do and so this clause is not an issue within their eligibility criteria currently. 
Secondly, Google’s agreement states,
You agree that if you include content in your organization’s nonprofit profile, the content you provide may be used in other Google products and may be publicly displayed (such as in fundraising features on YouTube).
Microsoft does not require this consent, which is a clear benefit for those users who value their content being restricted to their own use and not allowed to be utilised for public use.
Google gives users 30GB for e-mails, files and data per user, whereas Microsoft gives 1TB for OneDrive, 50GB for e-mails and 1TB for the organisation + 10GB per user.
Data protection is important when managing documents and information that are sensitive. Microsoft 365 seeks to offer specialised data protection built into its software, allowing users to determine who can access, edit and send files and to terminate that permission at any point. Google provides protections within limits, allowing users to remove permissions from cloud stored documents, but this will not impact upon any locally stored documents as Microsoft’s does. If an organisation has highly sensitive documents, or concerns about staff turnover, then it is important to consider this.
Elvanto/Tithe.ly has become popular for church management, and rightly so, as it is an effective means to manage people flow, rosters, and maintain records. Google’s greatest benefit over Microsoft’s is that it is able to work with Elvanto smoothly.
Calendars in Elvanto may be edited in Elvanto, and the user is able to subscribe to a calendar which will then populate either a Google or Microsoft calendar. However, the conversation is one-sided with Microsoft as the calendar cannot be edited in Microsoft to then altar the Elvanto calendar. Google, however, has this capability, which makes it the most user-friendly option for those who use Elvanto and wish to utilise the calendar.
In conclusion, there is no conclusion. For more integrated document security, storage and non-profit eligibility, Microsoft has the clear edge. Yet Google’s ability to adapt to Elvanto and to give users easy collaborative documents, they are superior.
Holden or Ford? Up to you.
Apple or Android? Up to you. (But if you ask me, Apple)
Microsoft 365 or Google Suite? Up to you, too.