Marc Lane, arguably the most prolific writer in the social enterprise sector, last year wrote another one of his useful books, entitled: Social Enterprise: Empowering Mission-Drive Entrepreneurs. It’s a good book to glance through, and even more important, to have nearby on your bookshelf for when you have a legal question about social enterprise. For a lawyer, he writes pretty well — which is high praise!
If you find Marc’s book easy reading and want more, pick up a copy of Bruce Hopkins book, The Tax Law of Unrelated Business for Nonprofit Organizations. But with both books on my bookshelf, Marc’s is the one I pick up first when I have a legal question.
The other place I look is the compilation of tax and legal issues collected from postings on the npEnterprise Forum discussion forum, available at http://bit.ly/n4BqNZ.
OK, back to Marc’s book. Empowering Mission-Driven Entrepreneurs is organized into ten chapters that address important topics (mostly from a legal perspective) including business model, business form, governance, raising capital, and measuring impact. Unrelated income tax issues come up often, but this is not a book only for nonprofits. There’s a separate chapter on for-profit governance issues, and about different kinds of hybrid organizations. These are essential issues for every social enterprise to grapple with. It’s not enough to say that your lawyer will take care of these things; as a social enterprise entrepreneur or manager, you need a good understand of these things too.
It would be great if every board member of a social enterprise kept a copy of this book, as it addresses many of the social enterprise questions I’ve fielded while working with boards of directors over the years. Social enterprise boards would be stronger and more effective if this were required reading.