Massachusetts recently passed legislation authorizing a new type of entity: the Benefit Corporation. The legislation became effective December 01, 2012.
Benefit Corporations operate as For-Profit entities, with the key distinction being that officers and directors are expressly permitted to make decisions taking into account the general public benefit of their actions, such as social and environmental impact, as opposed to traditional for-profit corporations that are beholden to maximizing investor interests above all other concerns. Benefit Corporations will be administered under Chapters 156D (business corporations) and 156A (professional corporations), except as otherwise provided within 156E (Benefit Corporations).
Note that several other states have Benefit Corporation legislation enacted, including California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Vermont and Virginia. Legislation has also been introduced and is pending in various other states.