While this phrase and topic involves a lot of grey area, and many conversations could be had about how to draw lines, in order to provide a succinct resource on Elevate, we use the following definitions and terms. The purpose of these isn’t to say one organization is doing more than another, but merely a standard in order to talk, classify, and clarify conversations and resources.

What Do We Mean by Social Enterprise?

Let’s start colouring up that grey area. There are two main ways we identify a social enterprise:

  • An organization that exists to create a positive social or environmental change, AND the product or service that it sells is how that is done. (ie: recycling a wasted resource into new goods)
  • An organization that exists to create a positive social or environmental change, AND the process of doing work to sell a product or service is significantly altered to create that change. (ie: majority of employees are from marginalized communities)

Based on these two definitions, we can see that a social enterprise must sell a product or service. This means that in many cases a nonprofit or charity would not be considered a social enterprise, though many are looking for ways to become one. In addition, just because a business “acts ethically” and perhaps engages in philanthropy, does not mean they are a social enterprise under this definition.

Types of Designations and How They Apply

Nonprofit / Charity Designation

A registered nonprofit or charity generally means that the organization exists for a social or environmental purpose. As stated before, this does not necessarily make them a social enterprise, but given their focus on impact, means they are a key part of what we would consider social impact here at Elevate.

For the purpose of this website, resources, and listings, we do not consider religious organizations and events as part of what we’re doing unless the specific job or event has relevance outside the context of the religion.

B Corporation Certificate

A B Corporation is a company that has gone through the rigorous testing developed by B Lab, a globally recognized nonprofit. The benefit to a B Corp certification is that it is a mark that is becoming increasingly more sought after by savvy consumers, it’s a community of businesses looking to lift each other up, and it’s a standardized measurement of how you can view your organization and improve it’s impact in every aspect.

The one caveat is that while a B Corp might be considered an impactful company, it does not necessarily qualify them as a “Social Enterprise” by our definition.

Community Contribution Company (C3)

As per the BC Business Corporations Act, a Community Contribution Company is a corporation that has a legal structure that permits them to limit shareholder dividends, keeping more money within the organization. This potentially allows the organization to put larger goals ahead of just shareholder returns. A C3 is also required to do extra reporting and have a specific number of directors and shareholders. Click here for more about incorporating as a C3

Limits of Job and Event Listings

Jobs We Accept – If your organization falls under the definitions above, you’re open to use the job board for any position in your company, including volunteers, contractors, and board members.

We know not every business can turn everything into impact immediately. So, if you don’t fall under any of the definitions or designations above, but are hiring for an impact role or corporate social responsibility, we want to know! Feel free to post these types of jobs on the platform as well.

Events We Accept – Our event listings fall under two categories, professional and support/community events. Professional events are for the purpose of gathering professionals together for the purpose of social or environmental impact, or communities of which this is the centre focus. Support and Public events are where we would put things like fundraisers, volunteer events, and community gatherings that are centred around social or environmental impact.

Still Confused or Don’t Agree With Our Definitions? Send a Message