Starting with a meeting in 2007 titled “Exploring New Legal Forms and Tax Structures for Social Enterprise Organizations,” the Aspen Institute’s Nonprofit Sector and Philanthropy Program has been bringing legal scholars and practitioners together to grapple with this question and related issues. Under the auspices of the Fourth Sector Network, many of the same individuals are also working on this question.
As of this writing, these groups have not achieved a consensus as to whether new or revised organizational and tax laws are needed to encourage and incentivize the growth of social enterprise. Indeed, some participants have suggested that existing legal and tax regimes already allow nonprofit social enterprises to operate broadly at the intersection of philanthropy and business and they express skepticism that any legal reform is needed. On the other hand, many participants advocate broad change, including revisions in federal tax and state corporate laws to accommodate new forms of social enterprise such as the “Charitable LLC,” “B Corporations” and the “Socially Responsible Corporation.”
LawForChange will follow these groups and report significant developments as they emerge.