Kickstart your nonprofit corporation

We've helped over 100,000 nonprofit organizations get started—let us help you form yours, too. As a nonprofit corporation, you can apply for grants, get 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status if eligible, and protect your assets.

Starts at $99 + filing fees. These costs are often tax deductible.

Why use LegalZoom to set up your nonprofit?

Get started in minutes

You can register your nonprofit organization in 3 easy steps with the leader in online business formation. We'll assemble your documents and file them directly with the Secretary of State.

Set it up right

Our tools offer step-by-step guidance to help you launch your nonprofit. We can file it with the state and apply for tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) organization at the same time.

Get the help you need

You get lifetime customer support and 100% customer satisfaction guaranteed. And we offer access to a network of attorneys to guide your launch and help your nonprofit grow.

Register your nonprofit


$99 + state filing fees
  • Preliminary name clearance
  • Articles of incorporation filing with your state
  • for missing info, discrepancies, and more
Learn more


$239 + state filing fees

Everything from Economy plus:

  • Deluxe founder's kit with your formation documents printed on archival paper, plus a personalized binder and notebook
  • Corporate minutes forms to record formal meetings and actions
Learn more

Express Gold

$359 + state filing fees

Everything from Standard plus:

  • Faster filing of your articles of incorporation with the state
  • Expedited federal tax ID (EIN)
  • Delivery of your package 2-3 business days after everything is finalized
  • 14-day trial of legal plan

    Renews automatically at $49/mo. Cancel anytime.*

Learn more

How to start a nonprofit with LegalZoom—it's easy!

  1. Tell us your nonprofit name
  2. Answer some questions online
  3. We'll complete and file your paperwork

We can help you with the rest, too!

  • Get an EIN (Employer Identification Number)
  • File for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status
  • Obtain a list of required licenses
Latina woman with short salt and pepper hair wearing a black puffer vest and green shirt volunteering at a recycling nonprofit that was started with LegalZoom.

What is a nonprofit?

Nonprofit organizations are groups organized for a good cause rather than for profit. None of a nonprofit organization's income is distributed to its members, directors, or officers.

What causes are eligible for a tax-exempt designation?

A nonprofit designation and a tax-exempt status are given only to nonprofit organizations that further certain causes. For example, organizations with religious, scientific, charitable, educational, literary, sports competition, cruelty-prevention, or public safety purposes would qualify.

Why start a nonprofit?

Get tax breaks

You're eligible to apply for state, federal, and other tax exemptions.

Apply for 501(c)(3) status

Contributions to certain types of qualifying nonprofits are tax deductible.

Protect your assets

Members and directors are shielded from personal liability for the nonprofit's actions.

Brunette woman wearing a light blue button up shirt writing on a whiteboard after forming her nonprofit organization with LegalZoom.

How to start a nonprofit in 5 steps

Conduct a needs assessment

Describe your nonprofit's mission, strengths, weaknesses, and the need it will fill to determine how to serve your community.

Complete a market analysis

Plan outreach, fundraising, and volunteer support by analyzing the market opportunity.

Create a business plan

Include services, community impact, business operations, marketing, and sources of funding.

Form your nonprofit

Make it official with a name, a business structure, filing with the state, and getting an EIN when you form your nonprofit with us.

Apply for tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit if eligible

Let us know if you'd like us to file your IRS application form for you.

Advantages and disadvantages of a nonprofit

Advantages of a nonprofit

  • Work on solving issues, creating change, and giving back
  • Obtain Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status if eligible
  • Qualify for certain government grants and loans
  • Accept tax-exempt funds from another nonprofit through fiscal sponsorship
  • Pay yourself a fair salary as part of operating expenses

Disadvantages of a nonprofit

  • Maintain records of donations, grants, funding, operational expenses, and finances
  • File an annual information return with the IRS to maintain your tax-exempt status
  • Stay compliant with bylaws that dictate how the nonprofit must be governed
  • Disclose salaries and finances for public inspection
Older man with gray hair working as a volunteer planting trees with a woman with red hair wearing a volunteer shirt working for a nonprofit organization that was formed with LegalZoom.

What qualifies as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit?

The main requirements are to operate exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, or educational purposes (among others) and to file annual reports with the IRS.

What is a 501(c)(3) not allowed to do?

Organizations can lose their 501(c)(3) tax exempt status by distributing earnings to shareholders, engaging in political activity or substantial lobbying, or failing to pursue their stated charitable or other qualifying purpose.

What is the difference between a nonprofit and a 501(c)(3) organization?

Nonprofits are organized for purposes other than generating profit and they don't distribute any income to their shareholders. 501(c)(3) refers to a specific tax status in which an organization does not have to pay federal income tax and can accept tax-exempt donations from the public.
Nonprofit (without 501(c)(3) status)501(c)(3) organization
Paperwork:Save time and money by not applying for tax-exempt status with the IRS.File annually with the IRS to document compliance for retaining tax-exempt status.
Donations/grants:Can't accept tax-deductible contributions or grants.May collect tax-deductible donations and grants.
Earnings:Pay federal taxes on earnings.Earn income that is federally tax-exempt.

Undecided if you'd like us to file for 501(c)(3) status?

You can always start your nonprofit now and decide later if you want to apply for 501(c)(3) status.

Start my nonprofit

What is the difference between an LLC and a nonprofit corporation?

In most cases, nonprofits are formed as a corporation, but an LLC can also be a nonprofit. Incorporating helps protect your personal assets, builds credibility with potential donors, and unlocks funding reserved for officially formed nonprofit corporations.
Nonprofit corporationNonprofit LLC
Structure of nonprofit:Operate within a rigid structure, including requirements for shareholders, directors, and managers.Choose an organizational structure that best fits your needs, with the flexibility to make changes.
Requirements for starting:Follow basic steps—choose a name, set up a board of directors, file incorporation documents, get an EIN, and obtain any licenses.Can be complicated—additional steps are required vs. starting a nonprofit corporation. Plus, nonprofit LLC's are not available in all states.
How to be tax-exempt:File Form 1023 with the IRS to apply for tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3).Elect for LLC to be taxed as a corporation. Then file Form 1023 with the IRS to apply for tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3). Tax-exempt status is available only if all members of the nonprofit LLC are themselves 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations.

What are the 3 types of nonprofits?

Nonprofit corporation

The most popular type of nonprofit, these nonprofits can qualify as tax-exempt, are generally protected from liability, and are eligible for grants.

Nonprofit LLC

A nonprofit LLC can only be recognized as a 501(c)(3) organization if all of its members are 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations.

Nonprofit association

An association is when two or more people come together to benefit the public without filing legal paperwork or forming an official legal structure.

Frequently asked questions

Ready to start your nonprofit?

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What our customers are saying

I am absolutely impressed with LegalZoom's ability to complete my nonprofit business and 501(c)(3) in such a short period of time.
Johnnie S., nonprofit customer
Professional support throughout every step ... Superior quality of providing important documents in an attractive binder ... Best way to start a nonprofit!
Dan N., nonprofit customer
Can't praise this process enough ... LegalZoom took a lot of the guesswork away and gave me clear direction and instructions.
Heath J., nonprofit customer


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