Is It Right For You? (Pros, Cons & More)
Are you looking to form a nonprofit, but you don’t want to go at it alone? The DIY option can be confusing due to the multiple layers of compliance necessary for nonprofits, and it’s hard to identify which nonprofit formation provider has the best deal.
As a complement to your own research, my team and I spent many hours researching the details of all the popular online nonprofit services. My goal is to provide you with the info you need to make the best decision for your business.
In this LegalZoom nonprofit review, we’ll go over the pros and cons, pricing and features, customer reviews and much more. Let’s find out if they’re a good fit for your future organization!
LegalZoom’s satisfaction guarantee ensures that if you’re not completely happy with their services, they’ll refund any fees you paid to LegalZoom as long as you request your refund within 60 days.
With nearly 4 million customers served since they opened their doors back in 2001, they have a client volume that most competitors can’t touch, and speaks to how popular LegalZoom is.
Their website is protected at all times by Norton Web Security, which scans for malware and other vulnerabilities while encrypting your private data.
They understand that a “one size fits all” approach doesn’t work for nonprofit formation, with 3 service packages supplemented by some a la carte features. It’s easy to find the level of service that’s right for your business.
When it comes to customer feedback, LegalZoom stumbles a bit. It’s not overly critical, but it is a mixed bag, which is to be expected somewhat with a company of this size. The bigger your operation, the higher the likelihood that some unsatisfied customers will slip through the cracks.
With LegalZoom, you have the option of 3 nonprofit formation packages, ranging from $99 to $359 (plus state fee): Economy, Standard and Express Gold. Keep in mind that none of their packages include a 501(c)(3) application which costs an additional $495 if you would like them to handle that as well.
What It Includes: The basics of formation come with this package, including a name availability check, and the preparation and filing of your articles of incorporation. In addition, you get their Peace of Mind Review in which they double-check your forms for potential mistakes, 10 sample membership certificates to provide proof of membership, and LegalZoom’s newsletter and nonprofit formation guidebook.
Who It’s Right For: Any entrepreneur looking for the basics of nonprofit formation should be interested in this package. It doesn’t include an EIN — or a 501(c)(3) application, obviously — but other than that it’s got everything you need and nothing you don’t.
What It Includes: Everything from the Economy package, plus a customized nonprofit kit and seal to keep your important documents organized, 20 customized membership certificates, and minutes forms to maintain records for your business meetings.
Who It’s Right For: The kit and seal are largely symbolic these days, so I’m not sure this package is all that valuable. This package costs $140 more than Economy, and while there probably is $140 of value here, this is only a good deal for you if you would buy all of these features separately, because the pricing for this package isn’t exactly a steal.
What It Includes: Everything from the Standard package, plus rush order processing, 2-day delivery of your completed filing, a 3-month trial of QuickBooks Online, and expedited processing for your federal tax ID number or EIN. Please note that this does not include your actual EIN, which costs an extra $49 to add on to Express Gold.
Who It’s Right For: This is basically the “I’m in a hurry” package.
In my opinion, most customers should be able to get by with adding an EIN to the Economy tier. Most nonprofits do need an EIN, which makes it a bit odd that it’s not included in any of LegalZoom’s formation packages, but a total of $178 for nonprofit formation and an EIN is still a solid price point.
Customer feedback is not exactly LegalZoom’s strong suit, but it’s not a huge concern either. The largest collection of online reviews for LegalZoom is on SiteJabber, where they hold a respectable but unremarkable 3.1 average score out of 5, while feedback on other sites falls a bit further on the critical side of the scale.
Their happy customers praise them for their turnaround times and friendly customer support, while their unsatisfied clients bring up issues like inconsistent service reps and billing confusion.
Customer Reviews Section Last Updated 8-14-17
Conclusion: It’s tough for a company of LegalZoom’s size and reach to satisfy every single customer, so the mixed nature of their online feedback is not surprising.
Considering how many hours I’ve invested into learning the ins and outs of nonprofit formation services, I’ve determined that some of them simply offer better values than others. Of course, the reason we’re here is still to figure out which provider has the best balance of pricing and features for your company.
LegalZoom is a solid nonprofit formation service due to their satisfaction guarantee and their impressive brand power. Still, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the competition, so let’s also take a look at Harbor Compliance, my personal favorite.
Pricing: Harbor Compliance’s base rate is $1,499, compared to LegalZoom’s $99 price point.
Features: Harbor Compliance includes your 501(c)(3) application in their $1,499 price, while LegalZoom charges $495 for this service. Additionally, they include an EIN ($49-79 at LegalZoom) and a year of registered agent service ($159 at LegalZoom). Finally, Harbor Compliance guarantees the approval of your nonprofit formation filing. If you compared the pricing and features of these two, they’re fairly equal.
Customer Support: LegalZoom has pretty good customer service with extended phone support hours, but Harbor Compliance is known for their next-level support. Every customer gets assigned a Compliance Specialist who helps you through every step of the process. There’s no phoning into an anonymous call center — instead you call or email the same person every time you have a question.
Experience: LegalZoom has formed over 1 million businesses since 2001. While Harbor Compliance is a newer company that formed in 2012, they’ve helped 10,000+ customers since then.
Pricing Starts at
In Business Since 2001
Anyone wanting a company with a proven track record and basic nonprofit formation features
Pricing Starts at
In Business Since 2012
Anyone wanting top-to-bottom formation and ongoing compliance
It’s a possibility, but not always recommended seeing as nonprofits can have some tricky compliance requirements. Providers like LegalZoom can alleviate this concern, leaving you more time to actually start your organization. If you do want to go the DIY route, check out our comprehensive how-to guide.
If you’re unsatisfied for any reason, simply request a refund within 60 days of purchase and they’ll pay back any fees paid to LegalZoom.
With Norton Web Security protecting their site, you can feel confident in your security with LegalZoom.
They certainly do. Simply give them a call or send them an email at any time. It doesn’t matter if you formed your nonprofit last week or months ago, they’re willing and able to assist.
LegalZoom scores a 4.4/5 in my book. Their brand popularity is impressive and they have a satisfaction guarantee that serves as a nice safety net too. However keep in mind this service is only for incorporation and not for getting tax exempt.
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