If you are contacting us for specific advice, note that as a social enterprise itself, the Centre charges a fee for its expertise.

Our organization does not have core funding to offer free specialized supports.

We do publish free information, which we encourage groups to review. Please visit our News & Publications section.

The Centre holds a niche area of expertise in the area of legal structures for social enterprise; and is called upon to provide technical workshops to organizations, and to advise governments on policy relating to this area.

The menu of structures or ‘containers’ that can hold social enterprises in Canada includes non-profit organizations, charitable organizations, co-operatives, traditional taxable corporations, community contribution companies, sole proprietorships, and partnerships.

We provide tailored consulting advice to groups on which legal structure is best for a new social enterprise launch, but more often, how to use existing structures to accommodate the addition of a social enterprise. This includes Canada Revenue Agency compliance issues for charities and non-profits wishing to add business activities to their existing social programming.

Cost: $75+GST (hourly, by phone)

In the Centre’s early days, we delivered general social enterprise workshops, to mixed groups of participants. We soon discovered that providing sessions targeted to specific organizations or sectors enabled more robust discussion, and provided a greater sense of comfort, for folks to ask detailed questions.

One such session represents the most popular offering of the Centre, in the form of a dynamic introduction to social enterprise principles and practices. Topics covered include:

  • Social enterprise ‘101’ – What is it? Why do it?
  • An overview of the Canadian social enterprise landscape
  • Common pitfalls, best practices and examples, and lessons learned
  • The legal context – compliance for registered charities and non-profit organizations
  • Possible next steps – an overview of venture selection and lean start-up

If your group is interested in an in-person session delivered at the site of your choosing, we would be delighted to provide a quote. There is no limit to the number of participants in your session.

Traditionally, the pathway to developing a successful enterprise is thought to involve, at the very outset, robust feasibility research and a solid business plan. Until very recently, conventional post-secondary and community-based business programs invariably took this approach. Many still do.

An alternative approach to business start-up is emerging. Inspired by the ‘lean manufacturing’ approach introduced in Japan by Toyota in the 1990’s, ‘Lean Start-Up’ is an approach that ‘favours experimentation over elaborate planning, customer feedback over intuition, and iterative design over traditional ‘big design up front’ development’.

Stanford, Harvard, Berkeley, and Columbia are among the universities leading the charge. Harvard Business School has even wound down its renowned MBA Business Plan competition in favour of lean start-up competitions.

In light of this shift in thinking, which saves time spent behind the computer and fast-tracks enterprises into the real world to test their feasibility, the Centre now rarely takes on traditional social enterprise business plan projects.

If your group is interested in actively exploring the lean approach with us, let’s chat.

For non-profit organizations considering applying to CRA’s Charities Directorate for charitable status, we can assist with the decision-making, ensuring that the group makes the most appropriate choice for its unique circumstances.

Supported by a specific charity lawyer with deep and durable experience in this area, we work with non-profit clients to build the strongest application for charitable status.

Communications take place by phone and email, accommodating clients across Canada.

Our rate (which is shared with the lawyer) is the lowest that we have encountered for such work; and to date, every one of our charity applications has been successful.

Cost: $1,500+GST ($250+GST deposit required)

Through the lens of charity compliance, we undertake a thorough review of the charity’s operations, and recommend next steps if required.

This process can take place in-person, or remotely.

Areas covered include analyses (as applicable) of:

  • Charitable objects language versus actual activities
  • Flow of grants to qualified donees
  • Donation receipting
  • GST / HST (determining whether registration is required)
  • Employment of staff versus contracting
  • Annual charity return (T3010) accuracy, including social enterprise reporting
  • Social enterprise compliance within the charitable structure

Cost: varies, project fee is based on the size and complexity of the charity


BC is a hotbed of crowdfunding in Canada: a fresh way to support social enterprise launch and growth?

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA’s) 2015 conference in Vancouver. I approached this event with an eye to learning how crowdfunding might be used by groups wishing to fund their social enterprise start-ups or growth plans. […]

Structure Shop – slideshow on legal structures for social enterprise, including BC’s C3 option

Supported by legal experts, the BC Centre for Social Enterprise, under its fee-based, non-profit project ‘The Structure Shop’, assists groups to navigate the Canadian menu of available legal structures for social enterprise, to find the best fit for their projects. […]

Mobilizing Private Capital for Public Good: Priorities for Canada

Here is the link to the G7 document Mobilizing Private Capital for Public Good: Priorities for Canada (Sept 2014). This paper outlines tangible recommendations for legislative and regulatory change, to enable social enterprise in Canada. […]