The 7 Best Nonprofit Formation Services Available

How to Start a Non-Profit Organization OnlineNeed to form a nonprofit, but your budget doesn’t allow for hiring an attorney to handle the delicate legal matters? Do you also currently lack the free time needed to personally ensure the complex process is handled correctly (the first time)? Thankfully, there are services to streamline the process, while also saving loads of resources.

Below are the best nonprofit formation services available, briefly taking a look at what they offer and how to decide which is the best fit for your mission. Enjoy!

#1
Pick

Harbor Compliance
Starts at $1,499

A nonprofit corporation is the most complicated business structure to form and maintain. The best service that offers in-depth formation and ongoing compliance — where you can call someone and get your questions answered at any time — is Harbor Compliance. This is where they really differentiate themselves in the industry.

  • Personal Support from Dedicated Compliance Specialist
  • 100% IRS Acceptance Rate
  • Partnerships with National Council of Nonprofits and The Foundation Center

With 15+ years of experience and fabulous customer reviews, Harbor Compliance should be at the top of the list for any up-and-coming nonprofit. Plus, along with straightforward packaging, they offer tons more after formation like fundraising compliance, foreign qualifications, and annual report filing.

#2
Pick

Foundation Group
Rates Vary

Foundation Group offers a personalized approach to nonprofit filing service. Their SureStart nonprofit formation package uses consultative methods to guide you through each step of the process.

  • 100% IRS approval rate!
  • Complete formation service includes incorporation, 501(c)(3) status, charitable donation registration, and state and federal filings.
  • Great customer reviews (4.8 out of 5 on Facebook).

Whereas most companies that offer nonprofit filing do so as one of many services they provide to many types of businesses, Foundation Group deals solely with nonprofits. Their expertise in this area definitely shines through, and makes them a strong choice for nonprofit formation.

#3
Pick

CharityNet USA
Rates Vary

They’ve been in business for 13+ years, with over 25,000 nonprofits served. They offer 30+ business services for nonprofits, ranging from formation to donations and grant writing.

  • Guaranteed approval of your incorporation documents.
  • Can complete nonprofit filing in 30 days or less in some cases.
  • Excellent customer reviews.

CharityNet USA also has a reputation for tight security, with multiple layers of security on their website, and limited data access for their employees. In short, they’ll keep your info private while quickly and affordably helping you start your nonprofit.

#4
Pick

Rocket Lawyer
Starts at $99.95

Note: This pricing and service is for incorporating a nonprofit, but not receiving a 501(c)(3) status.

With over 20 million customers since 2008, Rocket Lawyer is a well-oiled machine for nonprofit formation services. 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 and help avoid pitfalls or delays.

  • Phone Support Throughout Filing Process
  • Ongoing Services for Nonprofit Bylaws and 501(c)(3) Exemptions
  • Access to Respected Business Attorneys

Additionally, Rocket Lawyer’s online legal services customers 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.

#5
Pick

IncFile
Starts at $99

Note: This pricing and service is for incorporating a nonprofit, but not receiving a 501(c)(3) status.

IncFile is an inexpensive nonprofit formation service with a solid track record. Since 2004 they have formed over 100,000 businesses, earning an excellent customer feedback average of 4.8 out of 5 on ShopperApproved after 1700+ reviews. Plus they offer:

  • Real-time Online Order Status Tracking
  • Next-Day Order Processing
  • Free Registered Agent

When it comes to incorporation and LLC formation, they’re our top recommendation but consider whether your nonprofit could use more comprehensive services.

#6
Pick

LegalZoom
Starts at $99

Note: This pricing and service is for incorporating a nonprofit, but not receiving a 501(c)(3) status.

LegalZoom is one of the biggest players in the industry, with 4 million customers served since 2003. 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

They also have a bunch of optional features that vary by levels of service packages, a 3-month QuickBooks trial and expedited processing are two examples. The Express Gold package is quite literally a one-stop-shop option for less than $350.

#7
Pick

CorpNet
Starts at $99

Note: This pricing and service is for incorporating a nonprofit, but not receiving a 501(c)(3) status.

CorpNet’s ownership group has been in the document filing industry for 20 years, accruing over 100,000 customers in that time. For nonprofits, they offer a balanced package of services including:

  • Business Information Zone Compliance Tool with Deadline Reminders
  • 24-Hour Document Prep Options
  • Automatic Annual Report Filing

There’s nothing that truly stands out about CorpNet’s services to form a nonprofit organization, but they do everything well, have impeccable customer service, and don’t leave out any indispensable features. And let’s not forget, both CorpNet’s Deluxe and Complete packages come with a full year of registered agent service.

Pros & Cons to Using a Nonprofit Filing Service

Pros

  1. In general, their 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.

  2. While these 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.

  3. Because these 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.

  4. Most of the 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

  1. 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 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.

  2. Because of this complexity, there are times when the nonprofit filing process can hit a snag and take longer than expected. Hope for and expect the best, but be ready for the process to take longer than you’d like. With this Con in mind, that’s why we recommend Harbor Compliance to be your helping hand throughout the process.

Which Nonprofit Filing Service is Best?

Winner - Which Should You Choose

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 services above or an attorney is highly recommended.

If you’re still deciding, check out our full reviews to focus in on your favorites. In general though, while Harbor Compliance is the most expensive, we feel they’re worth it due to their deep level of services and overall industry expertise.