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How Much Does It Cost to Start a Nonprofit?

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Nonprofit?
Susan Guillory
Susan GuilloryUpdated March 2, 2023
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Just like starting any business, it takes money to get a new nonprofit off the ground. Right away, you’ll need to pay a fee to establish a nonprofit in your state, as well as a fee to file for nonprofit status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). On average in the U.S., it costs about $859 in state and federal fees to start a nonprofit organization. On top of that, you'll likely face other administrative and operating costs, such as legal fees, office rent, equipment, supplies, marketing, and staff. Read on for a closer look at how much it costs to start a nonprofit organization, as well as tips for how to get the funding you’ll need to get up and running.

What Are the Costs Associated With Starting a Nonprofit?

How much it costs to start a nonprofit organization will depend on where you plan to open it, the type of nonprofit you want to create, and whether you’ll need office space and staff. Here’s a look at some nonprofit startup costs you may need to budget for.

Filing Fees

To get your startup nonprofit going, you’ll have to pay some filing fees. This includes incorporating with the state where you’ll be running your nonprofit (for specific costs see the chart below). Once you have your articles of incorporation, you’ll need to apply for tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). There are two options. If you file Form 1023, the fee is $600; if your nonprofit meets certain criteria, you can file form 1023-EZ and pay only $275.Recommended: Nonprofit vs Foundation: Similarities and Differences 

Legal Fees

To officially form your nonprofit, you’ll likely need some help from a lawyer to make sure you are doing everything correctly. You may be able to get by with an online legal service or you may need to hire a lawyer. In some cases, lawyers will reduce or waive their fees to assist a nonprofit.

Office Space and Equipment/Supplies

Unless you are able to operate your nonprofit out of your home, you’ll need to rent an office and pay monthly rent, utilities, and internet fees. Whether or not you work from your home or a rented space, you’ll need to account for any equipment or office supplies you'll need, including computers/laptops and some type of fundraising software


Unless you plan to run the nonprofit on your own, you’ll likely need to hire some staff. These may be part-time, full-time, or freelance. What their roles will be and how many employees you’ll need will depend on the size and type of nonprofit you’re forming. You’ll also want to budget a salary for yourself.


To achieve your mission, you’ll need to get the word out about your nonprofit. A strong marketing program can help advocate for your mission, as well as attract donors and volunteers. Marketing costs may include a website, blog, newsletter, and social media. You may be able to do some of these things yourself; other projects will likely require hiring outside help, such as a website designer.Recommended: Guide to Starting a Nonprofit Animal Rescue

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Nonprofit in Each State?

Once you’ve developed your nonprofit idea, written your mission statement, and assembled your board, you’ll need to establish your nonprofit as a business in your state. The fees and required forms to do this will depend on what state you plan to operate in. Here’s a look at fees for name registration/reservation and nonprofit articles of incorporation for each state.
StateNonprofit Startup Fees
AlabamaName registration: $28Domestic Nonprofit Filing: $200
AlaskaName registration: $25Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $50
ArizonaName registration: $10 Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $40
ArkansasName registration: $22.50 online; $25 paper applicationNonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $45 online; $50 paper application
CaliforniaName reservation: $10Registration of Unincorporated Nonprofit Association: $10Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: no fee
ColoradoName registration: $25Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $50
ConnecticutName registration: $60Charitable Organization Fee: $50Certificate of Incorporation: $50
DelawareName registration: $75Articles of Incorporation: $89
FloridaName reservation: $35Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation:  $35Designation of Registered Agent: $35 
GeorgiaName registration: $50Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $100
HawaiiName reservation: $10Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $25
IdahoName registration: $60 + $20 for manual processingNonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $30 + $20 for manual processing
IllinoisName registration: n/aNonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $50
IndianaName registration: $20 (for 120 days)Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $30
IowaName registration: $10Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $20 
KansasName registration: $30 (for 120 days)Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $20
KentuckyName registration: $20Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $8
LouisianaName registration: $25Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $75
MaineName registration: $5/monthNonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $40
MarylandName registration: $25Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $100 
MassachusettsName registration: $30Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $35
MichiganName registration: $10Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $20
MinnesotaName registration: $30 by mail; $50 in-person and onlineNonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $90 online and in-person; $70 by mail
MississippiName registration: $25Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $50
MissouriName registration: $25; $30 for LLCNonprofit Articles of Incorporation:  $25
MontanaName registration: $10/yearNonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $20
NebraskaName registration: $30Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $30 in-office; $25 online 
NevadaName registration: $25Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $50
New HampshireName registration: $50Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $25
New JerseyName registration: $50Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $75 
New MexicoName registration: $10Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $25
New YorkName registration: $20Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $75
North CarolinaName registration: $30Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $60
North DakotaName registration: $10Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $0
OhioName registration: $39Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $99
OklahomaName registration: $10Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $25
OregonName registration: $50Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $50
PennsylvaniaName registration: $70Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $125
Rhode IslandName registration: $20Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $35 
South CarolinaName registration: $25Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $25 
South DakotaName registration: $10Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $30
TennesseeName registration: $20Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $100
TexasName registration: $40Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $25 
UtahName registration: $22Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $30
VermontName registration: $50Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $125 
VirginiaName registration: $10Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $50 + $25 filing fee
WashingtonName registration: $30Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $60
West VirginiaName registration: $25Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $25
WisconsinName registration: $10Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $35
WyomingName registration: $60Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation: $50
Recommended: 9 Steps to Starting a Nonprofit in Georgia

Funding Methods for Nonprofits

Once you have an idea of how much money you will need to start a nonprofit, your next question will likely be — where can I get it? The good news is that there are a number of different funding options for nonprofits at all stages. Here are a few you may want to consider.


When you’re launching a new nonprofit, a startup grant can give the funds you need to rent office space, hire employees, market your nonprofit, and initiate programs. Grants for new nonprofits are offered by grant-giving foundations, local and state governments, and corporations. You might start your search at

Small Business Loans

While loans are generally associated with for-profit businesses, nonprofit businesses can also sometimes qualify for different small business loans. If you have strong personal credit and your startup nonprofit is already generating revenue, you might try applying for a loan through your local bank or credit union (if they lend to nonprofits). Otherwise, consider exploring alternative business loan options, which are typically offered by online lenders. Recommended: Guide to Opening a Nonprofit Thrift Store


There are many different types of crowdfunding, but the type nonprofits typically use is the donation-based crowdfunding model. This involves asking large amounts of people to donate small amounts of money, typically via an online crowdfunding platform. You can launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise startup funds for your nonprofit or to fund a specific program within your organization.Recommended: Guide to Crowdfunding for Nonprofits 


Fundraisers are often the primary means a nonprofit uses to generate revenue. You may choose to do a mix of virtual and in-person charity events, such as a walk-a-thon, gala dinner, concert, trivia night, or online auction.Recommended: 5 Essential Nonprofit Financial Documents

The Takeaway

The answer to the question, “how much does it cost to start a nonprofit?” isn’t a cut and dry. Total startup costs will depend on your state’s filing fees, whether you need to fill out a Form 1023 or 1023-EZ with the IRS, and what type of office, equipment and staff you’ll need to launch and operate your nonprofit. If you’re interested in pursuing nonprofit financing, consider using an online lending platform to streamline your search and help you compare your options. With Lantern by SoFi’s loan comparison tool, for example, you can quickly get access to multiple loan options matched to your organization’s needs and qualifications with just one application.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the startup costs for nonprofits?
What is needed to start a nonprofit organization?
What expenses do nonprofits have?
Photo credit: iStock/SDI Productions

About the Author

Susan Guillory

Susan Guillory

Su Guillory is a freelance business writer and expat coach. She’s written several business books and has been published on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, and SoFi. She writes about business and personal credit, financial strategies, loans, and credit cards.
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