What I am about to share with you is not a condemnation of all 'non profit debt counseling services'. I simply want to you to understand that just because a credit/debt counseling company is a "not-for-profit" organization, does not mean that they are any more reputable or any less expensive to work with than a "for-profit" company.
In other words, do not assume that a non-profit debt counselor is
the better choice simply because they are "non-profit".
No matter what, the most important thing you can do when choosing a credit counselor is to make sure that you know exactly what fees they will be charging you up front and on an ongoing basis. Some 'less than' reputable debt help companies will try to charge you exorbitant up front fees (sometimes equal to a months worth of your debt payments) and try and hide them from you to boot. They do this by keeping your first month's payment for themselves instead of paying your creditors. Not only is this underhanded, it damages your credit rating and puts you even further into debt than when you started the program.
Most reputable 'for profit', and 'non profit' debt counseling companies will charge a small set up fee and a small ongoing monthly fee in order to initiate and maintain a debt management plan that will help you get out of debt. Hey, it's only fair. They are providing you with a valuable service, and the good ones do it at a fair price.
But before you even get to the point where you will be charged for their services, both for profit and non profit debt counseling companies will offer some very valuable services absolutely free. First, they will undertake a comprehensive examination of your financial position in order to determine the extent of your debt problems and to help you (and them) understand where the money is coming into and exiting your life. Next, they will work with you to prepare either a personal or family budget. This budget will be the most valuable thing you get from your debt counselor, and remember, it's free.
Summary: Whether you choose for-profit or non profit debt counseling
remember two things, find out what the fees are up front (and when they
will be charged to you), and also find out exactly what services they
offer for free. If they won't help you out in the beginning for free
(at least help you prepare a budget) look elsewhere for help.