Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Straddling the Line Between Business and Charity

In my law school clinical practice I have received an unusual number of requests this year from entrepreneurial organizations seeking advice on whether to form as nonprofits, for-profits, or some combination of the two.  Several of the requests have come from organizations engaged in sustainable agricultural practices who plan to grow organic produce, add value to it by processing it in one way or another, and then selling it wholesale and/or retail.  I do not know whether this rush of agricultural projects is a coincidence or early evidence of a social and economic trend in my home state of North Carolina.

The New York Times recently reported on a different sort of organization that straddles the line between for-profit and nonprofit: scooter-taxi services.  If you have been out at a bar and had a few too many drinks, you can phone the service, which will dispatch a chauffeur to your location on a folding scooter.  The chauffeur will take your keys, fold his scooter up and place it in the trunk of your car, drive you home, and then return to his office on the scooter.  The article quotes several taxi-scooter entrepreneurs about the fact that their motivations are largely charitable but the businesses can be profitable.  Some have formed as nonprofits, others as for-profits. 

I sense a Nonprofit Law exam question brewing.

TAK

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/nonprofit/2009/09/straddling-the-line-between-business-and-charity.html

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