Top Nonprofit Services
Best Nonprofit Service Overall
Most Well-Known Service
To start a nonprofit and apply for 501(c)(3) status, you need to take care of key legal steps like filing articles of incorporation and drafting your bylaws. This is known as the nonprofit formation process.
Typically, forming a nonprofit requires working with an attorney to navigate the complex legal matters involved. Attorney fees can run anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000+ for full nonprofit setup.
Thankfully, there are more affordable services designed specifically to help you form your 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. These companies handle all the required paperwork and filings to get your nonprofit legally registered and compliant.
Best Nonprofit Filing Services 2024
Below, we've summarized the top nonprofit formation and filing services available based on value, features, and more. Take a look at what each offers to decide which is the best fit to establish your 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
Best Nonprofit Service: Northwest
Want to focus on your mission rather than the paperwork? Have Northwest handle the legalities of forming your nonprofit.
1. Northwest – Starts at $29 (+ State Fees)
Northwest Registered Agent is an affordable formation service that offers everything you need to start a 501c3 nonprofit organization. What seems to separate them from everything else is that they provide everything you would want or need in a nonprofit formation service for one low price.
- A fully-formed nonprofit organization (filing all paperwork with the state)
- A full-year of registered agent service included
- Professional business address
- Free mail forwarding service
- Won’t sell your data and fully protects your privacy
- Over 200 business experts to help you indefinitely
If you want the best nonprofit formation service that offers a complete solution package with everything you need for one affordable price, we recommend Northwest Registered Agent for starting a nonprofit.
2. LegalZoom – Starts at $99 (+ State Fees)
LegalZoom is one of the biggest players in the business and nonprofit formation industry, with over 3 million customers served since 1999. They offer well-rounded packages with features that cater to a large variety of different nonprofits in all 50 states.
- Streamlined & Quick Step-By-Step Process
- 501(c)(3) Applications Completed for Additional $495
- Free & Helpful Resources like a “How to Form Your Nonprofit” Book
- Articles of Incorporation filing
- Nonprofit Corporation name availability check
LegalZoom also has a bunch of optional features that vary by levels of nonprofit formation service packages; corporate minutes forms and expedited processing are two examples. The LegalZoom Express Gold package is quite literally a one-stop-shop option for $359 plus state filing fee.
3. Bizee (Formerly Incfile) – Starts at $0 (+ State Fees)
Bizee is the most affordable nonprofit formation service with a solid track record. Since 2004, they have formed over 150,000 businesses, earning an excellent customer feedback average of 4.8 out of 5 on ShopperApproved after 11,000+ reviews. Plus Bizee offers:
- Free Registered Agent service for one year (Required by State)
- Real-time Online Order Status Tracking
- Next-Day Order Processing
- Articles of Organization filing
- Unlimited name searches
If you want the most affordable nonprofit filing service that also offers generous features, we recommend Bizee to help form your nonprofit.
4. Rocket Lawyer - Starts at $99.95 (+ State Fees)
With over 20 million customers since 2008, Rocket Lawyer is a well-oiled machine when it comes to helping you form a nonprofit. These are just the beginning below, but one thing to pay close attention to is their optional access to nonprofit-specific legal professionals who can answer questions for customers and help avoid pitfalls or delays.
- Phone Support Throughout Nonprofit Filing Process
- Ongoing Services for Nonprofit Bylaws and 501(c)(3) Exemptions
- Access to Business Attorneys and Nonprofit Attorneys
- Business name reservation
- Nonprofit paperwork filing
Additionally, Rocket Lawyer’s online legal services allow customers to enjoy discounts on nonprofit formation and other document filing services. We’ve worked with them a bunch over the last couple years and have nothing but good things to say about their speed, professionalism, and overall support.
Pros & Cons of Using a Nonprofit Filing Service
Pros of Using a Nonprofit Filing Service
- In general, their nonprofit formation processes are engineered for beginners so they’re user-friendly and easy to navigate. Any of the nonprofit registration services above can likely save you lots of time.
- While these business and nonprofit service providers aren’t law firms, they do offer tons of instructional and educational material, blank forms and customizable templates, along with customer support staff who you can contact in a variety of ways.
- Because these nonprofit filing services are the cream of the crop in this industry, they’re typically where the innovation and new services are coming from. They’re still growing and expanding every year to be more useful to customers forming a nonprofit.
- Most of the nonprofit formation providers on our list have optional upgraded services that you can choose to leverage or not, against simply getting stuck with a rigid package of bundled features that may not serve you.
Cons of Using a Nonprofit Filing Service
- If you don’t know what you need, and you don’t have traditional legal assistance, there’s a ton of pitfalls that can occur that these nonprofit formation providers may or may not be able to help with. Nonprofits can get complex fast. NONE of these services are technically better than a nonprofit law firm or specialist attorney to help you start a nonprofit.
Which Nonprofit Filing Service is Best?
At the end of the day, do what's right for your mission. Since forming a nonprofit is the most complicated entity, getting assistance from one of the nonprofit formation services above or an attorney is highly recommended.
If you’re still deciding, check out our full nonprofit reviews to focus in on your favorites. In general though, since Northwest offers the best overall pricing and features, we highly recommend their services when starting a nonprofit.
What are nonprofit organizations?
Nonprofit organizations are entities that are established to pursue a specific purpose or mission, and they do not distribute profits to shareholders or owners. Instead, any excess revenue is reinvested back into the organization to further its mission. These organizations often serve the public interest and can focus on a variety of areas such as education, health, arts, environment, and more.
What is a 501(c)(3) organization?
A 501(c)(3) organization is a nonprofit organization that qualifies for tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code Section 501 subsection (c)(3).
How do I start a nonprofit?
To start your nonprofit:
- Conduct research to identify a need in your community or a cause you're passionate about.
- Draft a clear mission statement.
- Assemble a board of directors.
- File articles of incorporation with your state's secretary of state or appropriate governmental entity.
- Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS.
- Develop bylaws for your organization.
- Apply for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status with the IRS.
- Register for state-level tax exemptions, if applicable.
- Open a bank account specifically for the nonprofit.
- Begin fundraising, grant writing, and establishing programs.
Do I need a registered agent service for my nonprofit?
Yes, most states require nonprofits to have a registered agent. A registered agent is a designated person or entity that receives legal documents and official notices on behalf of the organization. This ensures that the state has a reliable way to contact your nonprofit. It's important to choose a registered agent who is physically located in the state where your nonprofit is incorporated and who is generally available during regular business hours.
Some nonprofits choose to use registered agent services to ensure they never miss important legal notifications, while others might designate a board member or employee as the registered agent.