Companies with a nonprofit soul: L3Cs and B Corps

What happens when a business develops a non-profit mindset, and wants to use income for social good? Or a nonprofit develops an idea for a profitable business model?

There are a growing number of legal and taxation structures for businesses large and small who want to do good in the world, yet remain a for-profit enterprise.

This post is a companion piece to the panel discussion "L3C: Companies with a Nonprofit Soul" at the 2014 Association of Fundraising Professionals Breakfast.

Panelists speaking: Rob Stenson, Priscilla Mendenhall, and Sy Rotter. Moderator: Lisa Bunker. Organized by Heather Hiscox.

Social Enterprise Structures

501c3: The 501c3 designation allows for federal tax exemption of nonprofit organizations, specifically those that are considered public charities, private foundations or private operating foundations. They must be organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals. (Source: 501c3.org)

L3C: A low-profit limited liability company, also known as an L3C, is a new kind of limited liability company (LLC) that combines the financial advantages of the traditional LLC form of business with the social benefits of a non-profit entity. In addition, as a variety of LLC, the L3C generally shields its owners from the debts of the enterprise. (Source: Marc J. Lane) Essentially, it is an LLC where the social mission is its primary purpose.

B "Benefit" Corps: B Corps are corporations certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. (Source: BCorporation.net)

L3C Resources

Local Social Enterprise

B Corps Resources

Panelist Contact information

Priscilla Mendenhall: Priscilla@dishesandstories.org, tel. 202-746-1022
Lisa Bunker: Lisa.Bunker@pima.gov
Rob Stenson: rstenson@goodmans.info
Sy Rotter: syrotter@wlousa.net