MLK Day Musing: Does Your Business Give Back?

By: Donna Ray Berkelhammer. This was posted Monday, January 16th, 2012

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Martin Luther King Day has become a day of service for many communities and individuals.  It made me think: what are businesses doing to give back? One strong Triangle trend is social entrepreneurship and its related focus on the triple bottom line.  

I am inspired by entrepreneurs who base their business model on improving the wider community/environment.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Image via Wikipedia

In August 2010, our legislature became one of the first to enact the low-profit limited liability company (L3C), which is a hybrid business form combining profit-making with socially responsible missions.  It can be the perfect venture for educational, scientific, literary or religious businesses that don’t want the hassle of complying with non-profit reporting requirements, or that have some activities that are not permitted by the federal tax code.

The L3C can be structured to take advantage of both non-profit and for-profit sources of capital.  It may offer marketing advantages by attracting socially aware investors and partners.  It may also attract private foundation program-related investments.

The biggest disadvantage, however, (and this is not a small disadvantage) is that the federal tax authorities have not ruled whether investments in L3Cs qualify as program-related investments.

We have a wide range of supports here for social entrepreneurship, including  informal meet-ups. formal academic programs at Duke and UNC,  community-based efforts to increase and support social entrepreneurism, and paid consultants.

How is your business giving back on a day-to-day basis?

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