Mission Guardian – Startups

Mission Guardian Program

A legal subscription service for nonprofit organizations.
Add a lawyer to your team and safeguard your mission.

What is it?

Subscription Legal Services is a new way to think about and interact with your lawyer. Starting a nonprofit is tough. You’re passionate about the mission, but that doesn't mean you're an expert in the nonprofit sector. How can you lay the foundation for a successful organization when you don't know what you don't know?

Who is it for?

Only nonprofit clients of Birken Law Office may apply to join our full service subscription plans. The full service program has multiple levels, including a level just for new nonprofits getting started. Each plan is right sized to ensure your nonprofit gets the right services for its age and stage.

Why this model?

After years of in-house experience and private practice, one thing is clear – nonprofits avoid future problems when they have access to experienced legal advice during every stage in the startup process. But, many nonprofits have a difficult time getting their legal needs met.

Lots of nonprofit founders experience these frustrations sometime during the startup process...

  • You hesitate to pick up the phone to ask a lawyer questions. You know every minute on the phone is billable time, and wonder – is it worth the bill? As a Mission Guardian member, you never have that worry – we provide unlimited consultations on new issues.
  • You feel unable to budget for legal because you don’t know what it will be! So, you don’t hire help when you should – this can lead to expensive mistakes that slow down a new nonprofit. Mission Guardian solves that problem. You have a complete pricing transparency.
  • You try to manage the startup process yourself, cobbling together information you can find on the internet and any legal support you can get for free or cheap. You're doing your best, but you have the nagging feeling you could be doing something very wrong. Mission Guardian subscribers don't feel that way – members have expert guidance through the whole process, so you can focus on the mission.

Now you can…

• Easily call for advice when things come up

• Stop worrying about making decisions in a vacuum

• Feel secure in knowing you’re protecting the business

• Gain a strategic partner to help advance your mission

• Finally, budget for the organization’s legal spend

Mission Guardian provides all this and more!

What we provide:

We’ll help you with critical advice, so you feel safer.

Every member consult is worth over $115. This feature alone pays for the subscription! Schedule as many as you need.

Don’t use Google to search for an example, then hope it works for you. We can give you what you need, when you need it to make sure you're doing things right.

Each project, from incorporating the nonprofit to applying for tax exempt status and beyond, are on our online project menu. You always know exactly what it will cost – no surprises. Plus, subscribers enjoy a substantial discount on projects vs. non-subscribers.

Add our badge to your website and tell donors “this nonprofit cares about doing things right.”

How it works

You pay a recurring monthly fee that covers a suite of benefits to fit your organization’s size and budget.

As part of your membership dues, you get scheduled member consults for all new issues (worth over $115 every time you schedule). Schedule as many of these as you need. For example, you could schedule:

  • Just before a board meeting to touch base on issues that might come up in discussion
  • Before adding a new board member to the team
  • To get recommendations for what software to use (our advice doesn't have to be legal!)

In the member portal you’ll find an ever-expanding set of apps to generate the customized documents you need to build a strong nonprofit. You'll find things like template agreements, donor acknowledgment letters, contracts, policies, procedures, and more. Need a second copy of the agreement? Just run the app again, it’s all included in your subscription. Hiring a lawyer to create these customized resources just for you would cost more than $10,000 in billable hours – as a member you get access to all of it for one low monthly fee.

In the portal, search the knowledge base for answers to your questions or document apps. If something is keeping you up at night or on the weekend, it’s probably been a question others have asked too – check the knowledge base to get quick guidance any time, day or night.

Plus, when you need additional services, you simply purchase a project from our project menu. Unlike traditional hourly billing, you know up front what every project will cost AND you enjoy a 25% discount on project costs compared to non-subscribers.

Membership Packages

Startup Member

Fast track new nonprofit success.
Startups only.

More Info
This is the entry level subscription for emerging organizations. Full service guidance through the first two years of the founder's journey. When you move beyond the startup phase, we look to transition to a Growing Member level to increase portal content and project menu offerings This is just what you need, when you need it on a budget you can afford.

$ 150

per month

  • Scheduled 15 min consults for new issues
  • Subscriber discount on flat fee projects
  • Access to founder's necessary document apps
  • Searchable educational library
  • Founder's menu of flat fee legal services
  • Membership badge for your website
  • Complimentary Secretary of State renewals
  • Complimentary 990N filings or reminders
  • Self-assessments on industry standards
  •  –
  •  –

Growing Member

Guidance you need to protect the mission.
Affordable package.

More Info
When you move beyond the startup phase, this membership is the just-right fit. Nonprofits as businesses have more in common legally with a Fortune 500 corporation than a lemonade stand. Get the guidance you need to protect the mission in an affordable package. Using traditional hourly billing one year of undiscounted service to a growing nonprofit with staff, various programs and real estate issues could cost upwards of $10,738 in a busy year!

$ 400

per month

  • Scheduled 15 min consults for new issues
  • Subscriber discount on flat fee projects
  • Access to the full library of document apps
  • Searchable educational library
  • Full menu of flat fee legal services
  • Membership badge for your website
  • Complimentary Secretary of State renewals
  • Complimentary 990N filings or reminders
  • Self-assessments on industry standards
  •  –
  •  –

Enterprise Member

This plan is fractional general counsel.
Limited availability.

More Info
Enterprise level organizations need coordination of care. They often have to hire specialist attorneys from far and wide – they're good lawyers but not nonprofit experts and they don't know your whole organization. Keeping up with all the issues can be complicated and time consuming for an Executive Director. Are you keeping track of it all? Are you aware of all the nonprofit-specific legal issues when they come up? Relax – we've got your back. We’ll help you stay focused on your important mission work and satisfy the board their due diligence is handled with this high touch package.
For a high-touch package like this, using hourly billing, would be astronomical. A nonprofit might as well hire a part time lawyer on staff which would cost the organization upwards of $66,000 in salary and benefits (assuming the attorney has less than 8 years of experience).

$ 1500

per month

  • Scheduled 15 min consults for new issues
  • Subscriber discount on flat fee projects
  • Access to the full library of document apps
  • Searchable educational library
  • Full menu of flat fee legal services
  • Membership badge for your website
  • Complimentary Secretary of State renewals
  • Complimentary 990 filing reminders
  • Complimentary attendance at one board meeting
  • Coordination of all outside counsel
  • Dedicated email inbox
  • Dedicated counsel assigned to you
  • Monthly reporting in

Applicants to the Mission Guardian program are matched to the membership package that is the best fit for the org’s needs.

What Subscribers Say about Mission Guardian…

“Now nonprofits can protect themselves – it’s like insurance.
– S.G., Administrator

“Incredible. This I can budget for. No surprise bills. It will professionalize us.”
– M.W., Executive Director

“I don’t know what we’re going to need. Now I don’t have to – I can focus on fundraising and know we’ve got the basics covered – it’s a no-brainer.”
– Matt, Board Member

“I’d love being able to pick up the phone without worrying about getting a bill for one question.”
– Brian, New Nonprofit Founder

“The member badge is awesome – it gives us credibility when we are reaching new donors that are big for us.”
– Outreach Ministry Founder

“This is so valuable, I’ve always been worried, what if I messed something up? Now I don’t have to worry. And it shows my board I’m getting the help I need.”
– C.P., Executive Director

“Its so important to have an attorney that knows you on your side as a nonprofit.”
– J., Senior Pastor / Church Founder

“It gives me great peace of mind as a decision maker on the board.”
– Co-op Board Member

Organizations Who've Subscribed

Proudly providing subscription legal services to Minneapolis neighborhood organizations

Frequently Asked Questions

Great question! When I say ‘we’ what does that mean anyway? We means me (Jess Birken) and our employees and the extended team. That includes my Firm Manager; my Client Success Paralegal, who will manage most of your projects; and, my associate who'll work with you on drafting and problem solving. Our extended team includes a network of experienced attorneys and business professionals – we bring in the help we need to make sure we are as full service as possible.

The business pros help us create our outstanding systems (like the member portal and online automations). They help me keep your costs reasonable so I can offer services that are affordable to large and small nonprofits alike.

The extended network of attorneys are experts in their area, so, for example, if we work on an employee handbook it’s not just me doing that work but I’m being backed up by some of the brightest lawyers in employment law. They work behind the scenes and allow me to offer a comprehensive suite of legal services.

That means you only have to worry about one law firm relationship, one vendor account in your AP process and feel like your strategic partner has a finger on the pulse of life at your organization. And that’s what I love about it – we get to know you and your org and help you stay on track, keeping the mission work moving forward.

Member consults are a quick question or assessment of any new issue. Now you can vet every new issue and not worry about the cost. We make it easy to schedule online. Simply choose any time that works best for you.

Yes! New, Growing and Enterprise members may schedule as many as needed. Our goal is to help you get the advice you need early to head off expensive messes later. Each member consult is valued at over $115 but free for members. Member consults are 15-minute calls and are for new issues only (we’ll let you know if something needs to be a project) we want you to get your money’s worth out of the subscription – use the calls!

Members log into our secure member portal. In the portal you’ll find the apps that match your subscription level. You can generate a copy of what you need, customized to your situation, right from the app page. Get what you need, 24/7 – no need to wait for us to email you.

We have an ever-expanding set of apps which generate documents for you These are customized to your needs as you answer questions in the app. At the end of the questionnaire you get a customized document. The apps you have access to depend on what your subscription level is. These documents are forms, policies or contracts that our clients commonly need. They are drafted by lawyers with nonprofits in mind – so you don’t have to worry if it’s going to work for you, protect your interests, or meet industry standards.

You receive the document in editable MSWord format. Examples of documents you can generate with the apps include:

  • conflict of interest policies
  • participant waivers
  • photo releases
  • independent contractor agreements
  • one time use facility rental agreements
  • extended term space or facility rental agreements
  • grant awards or subawards
  • confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements
  • community garden agreements
  • board meeting agendas, minutes, or resolutions, etc.
  • and so much more!!

If a subscriber asks for something that we don't offer, but we think most subscribers would benefit from it, we'll build it. The list of stuff in the library really grows all the time.

No problem, we’re happy to help! Simply refer to our flat fee menu of services and purchase a ‘customize any MG form’ product. We’ll fix it right up for you. When it’s complete you’ll receive the revised document in Word format.

The project menu includes work we do for clients frequently. This includes things like custom document creation, drafting new or revised bylaws, IRS 1023 applications, application for state sales tax exemption, bylaws revision, amended articles of incorporation, property tax exemption applications, etc. New Org subscribers have access to a limited menu of startup needs like entity formation, bylaws drafting, application for IRS tax exemption, etc. If you need something that’s not on our menu, we’ll draw up a scope of work and a price for the work. As a member you get a 25% discount on pricing too!

No. Your membership is month to month. For New Organization members we typically recommend that we reassess your member level when you’ve been a member for 24 months to assess if you’ve transitioned to a growing member activity level. Memberships never expire, they are paid month-to-month and you can cancel at any time. You can manage your account directly in the member portal

If membership is not working for you anymore you can contact us about changing your subscription level or cancel at any time. You will lose your access to the member portal and your licenses to use the member badge and all licenses for use of copyrighted content in the portal will terminate immediately. All perks of membership will terminate including any complimentary services and discounted pricing. Any purchased project services may be finalized if both of us want to continue the project.

As long as you are a member of the Mission Guardian program we grant you a license to put a Mission Guardian Member badge on your website. This shows donors and funders that you care about the health and safety of your nonprofit’s resources. The website code is in the member portal and you (or your web developer) simply install it on any page of your website.

We file online 990-N (aka: 990 postcards) for our New Organization members. Your membership must be active during the period your 990-N is due, and we cannot file 990-Ns for non-members. Members who are private foundations are required to file a 990-PF and nonprofits that earn more than $50,000 in annual revenue must file a 990EZ or full form 990. We do not file those forms, sorry. Membership does not include assistance with 990-PF 990-EZ or full form 990 filings, but we can refer you to a nonprofit specialist CPA to assist you.

When you become a client, you'll sign an engagement agreement as you would with any other law firm. When you become a subscriber, you'll also agree to our subscription site Terms of Use, available at https://missionguardian.com/terms-of-use/.

We're happy to answer them! Please call 612.200.3679 and ask to speak with our New Client Specialist