Amongst all the reports and books published about social enterprise in the last four years, four stand out.
Any organization considering social enterprise should have its staff and directors first review Doing Well While Doing Good (2008). It distils the lessons learned by the Toronto Enterprise Fund and recipients of its funding. In addition to a brief but useful readiness diagnostic, the booklet explains six factors key to successful "social purpose enterprise."
For a comprehensive guide to social enterprise, turn to The Canadian Social Enterprise Guide (2005). Published by another funder (the enterprising non-profits program) the Guide can be used as a development primer or for general reference. Building Community Wealth (2006) is written by social enterprise trainers and consultants. Unique to this book is a wealth of diagnostic checklists, including a whole chapter devoted to exploring the entrepreneurial characteristics of an organization.
All these publications are essential to organizations that are engaged in social enterprise development in Canada, or thinking about it. A fourth must-read is The Limits of Social Enterprise (2007), a no-holds barred assessment of the Community Childcare Assistance Program, that was established to increase childcare spaces for the working poor in the United States.