Developing and Sustaining Social Enterprises

In this section of the site, we provide information and resources to give those interested in the social economy a better understanding of what it takes to get their organization off the ground and sustain them over time.

Below you will find a brief explanation of the distinctions between different types of entities as well as the pros and cons of each.  There are also links to useful resources in planning and organizing your social enterprise.  The sub-menus that follow provide a variety of links, guides and tools relevant to six key areas: Legal and Taxes provides legal, tax, and business information to those needing assistance in starting out.  Governance offers guidelines and information relevant to structuring and guiding the development of inclusive, participatory organizations aimed at maximizing social impact.  Funding supplies a variety of tips and resources for budgeting, financial planning, and procuring funding from lending and grant based institutions as well as information regarding micro-credit and local currencies.  Promotion provides information related to how to communicate and promote your mission and social goal effectively to local communities and constituent networks.  Advocacy highlights  the importance of cultivating inclusive social networks to pursue social action within the public domain. Consultants and Advisory Services offers a list of organizations and individuals that support a wide range of tasks including legal and tax advice, organizational and development help, and strategies all related to company development and sustainability.

Getting Started

Choosing the specific type of entity you and your group want to form

Among the most important decisions to be made involves choosing which type of entity you and/or your group want to use to launch your social enterprise.

There are many different types of legal entities, including Non-profit Associations, Tax-exempt, Non-profit corporations, Cooperatives, Partnerships and joint ventures, limited liability partnerships (LLCs), for-profit C Corporations.

The Cooperative Development Institute provides an excellent overview of the key distinctions between these entities along with a brief list of pros and cons.  Most importantly, they provide a brief Q&A section that helps you to think about which legal form is right for your group.

Click on the link below for more information

Another helpful resource is found in the “Introduction to Social Enterprise Resource Package” put out by the Canadian Centre for Community Renewal’s Centre for Community Enterprise.

See the following PDF for specific steps in social enterprise development as well as a checklist assessing your readiness and getting started in planning your social enterprise development work

Steps in SE Development

For more on the procedure for starting a traditional non-profit see:

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