Legal Structure as a Tool for Accomplishing Your Goals

A veteran social entrepreneur provides a guide to those who are thinking through the thorny question of whether to create a nonprofit, a for-profit, or something in between.

from Stanford Social Innovation Review:

For Love or Lucre

Social entrepreneurs who want to start a new venture quickly confront an important question: What type of legal structure should I create? Should I start a traditional nonprofit, a for-profit, or something in between? This is not a simple question to answer, and it is in some ways becoming more difficult with the proliferation of new legal structures like the B corporation that are intended to allow entrepreneurs to meet financial, social, and environmental bottom lines.

I have started successful and unsuccessful for-profit and nonprofit ventures. My goal in writing this article is to help other social entrepreneurs navigate these waters. I am not, however, a lawyer, and I cannot offer legal advice about creating a venture. Rather, I want to guide you through the issues that you need to consider before you even begin to think about choosing an attorney or getting help structuring your social venture. Continue reading this article.

The first thing to remember is that the legal structure is simply a tool for accomplishing your goals. Deciding structure first may lock you into a direction that won’t get you where you want to go. It is important to take the time to explore your idea first; then answering the legal structure question will be easier.

The complete article is available here.