Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Changing Ecosystem of Change

I'm pleased to draw your attention to a newly published paper we've written with the support of The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. "The Changing Ecosystem of Change" looks at the many new enterprise forms, from social businesses to nonprofits, that are now actively producing and distributing social goods. The paper also looks at the opportunities and challenges these new enterprise forms raise for funders, and that funders raise for these enterprises.

Thursday, February 4 in the SF Bay Area is a big day for discussing these issues. Criterion Ventures, with backing from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation is holding one of its series of "Structure Labs" - working sessions for entrepreneurs to consider the many different enterprise forms and align form with mission.

B Corps, H Corps, L3Cs

Also on Thursday, my Blueprint colleagues and I are hosting a similar, shorter discussion over at the HUB Bay Area. We're thrilled to be introducing a discussion with Beth Richardson of B Lab (home of the B Corporation); Sheila Warren, a nonprofit attorney who serves on the L3C California Task Force, and Robert Wexler, a partner at Adler and Colvin and member of the Legal Working Group on New Corporate Forms, which is working on the H Corp form.

These new forms raise significant opportunities and policy challenges. They certainly matter to anyone in a start-up as the range of hybrid options designed to mix mission with business continues to expand. They also matter to funders and nonprofits, as these forms are direct outgrowths of changes in either corporate or tax law (or both) Where once the 501c3 nonprofit stood alone, these enterprises are seeking recognition for their social purposes - a set of considerations that fundamentally challenges the tax privileged status of nonprofits.

These real developments in the law are why discussions about civil society, its forms and its purposes are so important. They are why we need to consider the full range of policies that shape the social sector - from tax law to intellectual property to securities reporting. I encourage you to read the paper and join in these conversations - we're also blogging about the related topic "What Capital When?" over here.

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