Not-for-profit Law
Legal help for community organisations

Social enterprises

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At its core, being a social enterprise means using business models and skills to solve societal problems.

The decisions to be made when setting up a social enterprise are quite complex, and will significantly impact the way the enterprise can operate in the future.

The key decision is whether to set up as a not-for-profit, a for-profit, or use a hybrid structure.  There are benefits and downsides to each approach - we cover these in our social enterprise fact sheet and guide below.

Our fact sheet is an introduction to social enterprises and covers (at a high level):

  • what is a social enterprise?
  • important factors to consider when starting a social enterprise
  • financing a social enterprise
  • choosing a legal structure for your social enterprise
  • setting up and operating a social enterprise

These issues are covered in more detail in our social enterprise guide. The guide includes information about:

  • factors to consider when starting a social enterprise, including choosing a legal structure
  • adding a social enterprise to an existing not-for-profit organisation, and
  • legal issues when setting up and operating as a social enterprise

We have a related page on new funding approaches, some of which can be used by social enterprises to help grow the organisation, such as through seeking impact investment. Go to the New Funding Approaches page to read more. 

We regularly hold webinars introducing key concepts for social enterprises. You can check our webinars page to see if any webinars are coming up.

Additional resources

There are an increasing number of programs and organisations assisting social enterprises in different ways. This list changes regularly, so we encourage you to do your own research. Some places to start are:

Last Updated: 02 August 2021

Managing contracts during COVID-19

Check out our resources to help you manage your contractual obligations during this time.
https://www.nfplaw.org.au/covid19/contracts-insurance

COVID-19 Governance Resources

We've created governance resources specifically for COVID-19 issues such as postponing your AGM.
https://www.nfplaw.org.au/covid19/governance-0