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Church Hiring Practices vs Software Platform Policies

Does simply clicking the box making that certification put a church in jeopardy? Possibly, and that’s the problem. I see two problematic scenarios:

  1. Integrity. If the box is inaccurately checked so the church or ministry can qualify for charitable licensing, that may be an integrity compromise. Similar to how you decide what organizations you want to support with your contributions, those solution providers are using that as a filter to decide to whom they want to donate the value of their solution. The result of inaccurately checking the we don’t discriminate box may be tricking them into donating something to someone they do not want to support. It would be more appropriate for the church or ministry to pay full price rather than falsely get approved for charity licensing (see 2 Corinthians 8:21).
  2. Legal Exposure. Inaccurately checking the we do not discriminate box is not generally an issue of law. But it can become one if the issue is sexual orientation/expression and an employee declares themselves in violation of the church’s doctrine on that issue— if the church chooses to terminate them over that issue. If that terminated person sues for wrongful termination, and if their counsel learns the church checked the box saying they don’t discriminate, the results of the suit could be unfavorable to the church.

Which Providers Are We Talking About?

Google, Microsoft, and many others have that non-discrimination language in their charity license agreements. Microsoft corrected the issue in late 2015 after working with me to understand the concern. They added a statement that religious institutions are exempt from the employment non-discrimination portion of their agreement. They did that specifically because they want to work with churches and ministries! Google has not been responsive to the church in this area.

Microsoft’s solution is challenging, however, because they contracted with a company called TechSoup to process their applications for charity licensing. Recently TechSoup changed their internal rules and now require those same certifications in the TechSoup account setup process to request a Microsoft Charity License approval, even though Microsoft states churches and ministries are exempt!

The Fix Is Now Available

Working with Microsoft again to address the TechSoup account certification issue, they created a way to complete the application without establishing a TechSoup account, and then to get access to their charity licenses without involving TechSoup! Here are the necessary steps:

  1. You need to be recognized by Microsoft as a charity to access their charity licensing prices. To complete your application for Microsoft Charity Licensing, complete the form accessible at this link: https://nonprofit.microsoft.com/en-us/getting-started. TechSoup still processes the application, but this approach eliminates having to establish a TechSoup account. It can take 2-4 weeks to get your approval, but usually happens much faster.
  2. Once you have your approval, create your tenant (that’s what Microsoft calls your M365 account). They may provide a link to do so when notifying you of your approval.
  3. Then access the Microsoft store to get your licenses! Depending on what products you choose, some or all will be free, and some may have a charity license discounted price.

It’s great that Microsoft is willing to accommodate the needs of churches and ministries who can’t check the we don’t discriminate box with integrity. They recognize our right to discriminate in our employment and hiring practices as guaranteed by the U.S. Supreme Court. It has been my privilege to help in that resolution.

 

This article about church hiring practices and software platforms is from MBS, Inc, and is used by permission.

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Nick Nicholaou is President of MBS, Inc., a team of IT strategists who evaluate, engineer, and support servers, Mac & Windows computers, and mobile devices. In MBS’ private cloud datacenter they host email, databases, VoIP phone systems, SPAM filtering, file servers, and more.