Application Information

Do you want to prove your social enterprise credibility?

Social Enterprise MarkTo stand out from the crowd, and prove your social enterprise is creating social value, you should apply for Social Enterprise Mark accreditation.

To qualify, you must meet the Social Enterprise Mark qualification criteria, which is summarised below.

Below you can review the criteria, necessary documentation and the annual licence fees for the Social Enterprise Mark.

Or does your organisation want to be the best at what it does, striving to achieve social enterprise excellence?

SEM_APPROVED_LOGO_RGB_PORTRAIT_AWIf your organisation is seeking enhanced accreditation, showing best practice in proof points across the following areas, then you should apply for the Social Enterprise Gold Mark.  

  • governance
  • business ethics
  • financial transparency

Qualification Criteria

To qualify for the Social Enterprise Mark, you must meet the following criteria:

Social purpose (including environmental purposes) will typically be evident within the governing documents of an organisation, e.g. Articles of Association, Company Rules.

Independency means the organisation can demonstrate they are autonomous and able to manage their affairs in line with other Mark criteria, without undue control by shareholders/members who do not share similar purposes.

Trading income is defined as income from fees, contracts, the sale of goods or services (this includes some income labelled as grants that have been competitively tendered for, or commissioned by other agencies).

An organisation’s governing documents should include clauses that clearly commit 51% or more of any annual profits generated to its own social purposes, or others. Annual accounts will help corroborate this and that expenditure does not compromise this commitment

*Please note it is not mandatory that your organisation makes a profit, but at least 51% of any profit made will need to be dedicated to social/environmental purposes.

An organisation’s governing documents should include clauses that clearly state that – after satisfying all debts and liabilities – any residual financial or physical assets will be dedicated to social purpose

Applicants must be able to describe and/or provide evidence of how they are fulfilling their social purposes and the social benefit they help deliver.

Fee Schedule

There is an annual licence fee for the Social Enterprise Mark (payable as a single annual payment or as staged instalments), which is calculated based on the turnover of your business. The fee tier will be assessed each year, so if turnover has increased or decreased, the licence fee payable will adjust accordingly.

Annual income licence Fee
less than £100,000 £250 & VAT or £25/month
£100,000 – £199,999 £350 & VAT or £35/month
£200,000 – £499,000 £450 & VAT or £45/month
£500,000 – £999,999 £550 & VAT or £55/month
£1m – £2.99m £690 & VAT or £69/month
£3m – £5.99m £760 & VAT or £76/month
£6m – £9.99m £1,500 & VAT or £150/month
£10m – £14.99m £2,200 & VAT or £220/month
£15m – £29.99m £3,300 & VAT or £330/month
£30m – £49.99m £5,000 & VAT or £500/month
£50m – £99.99m £6,000 & VAT or £600/month
£100m and above £7,500 & VAT or £750/month

All fees are subject to VAT – the annual licence fees shown above are exclusive of VAT, the monthly fees are inclusive of VAT.

Applicants are invoiced up front for the licence fee. In the unlikely event that an application is unsuccessful, the licence fee will be refunded, minus an assessment fee.

International applications will be subject to an additional non-refundable administration fee of £150.

Please note – all fees are subject to regular review.

Next Steps

Aspiring Social Enterprise accreditationIf you don’t yet meet the criteria for the Social Enterprise Mark, you may be able to apply for the Aspiring Social Enterprise accreditation.

This entry-level accreditation  has been developed specifically to support aspiring social enterprises to get started on the pathway to social enterprise good practice.

Group Applications

Part of a group of companies?

Big Issue Group logosIf you’re the parent company or a subsidiary of a parent company, you could apply for the Social Enterprise Mark for the whole group at the same time. Why not all benefit from the status of being an accredited social enterprise and demonstrate that your entire company operates to the same ethos of ‘Trading for People and Planet’.

For example, The Big Issue Group, comprising The Big Issue, Big Issue Invest and Big Issue Scotland, holds a group licence for the Social Enterprise Mark.

By submitting a group application, it is likely that you will benefit from a considerably reduced licence fee. For group applicants, the group’s combined turnover will formulate what their Social Enterprise Mark license fee will be, instead of each individual company applying for the Mark separately with separate tiered fees.

To find out more about submitting a group application, please get in touch with Rachel on 07790908829 or and she will answer your questions and could start your application for you today!

Criteria Checklist

Below is our Mark Holder checklist to make sure you can meet the qualification criteria. Please answer the following questions to see if you are eligible to become a Mark Holder.

You will need to answer questions referring to relevant details from these documents, therefore it is important that you have access to the information they contain.

You will need to confirm that no other public or Government agency, or other private corporate bodies hold decision making control of the organisation.

You will need to prove that at least 50% of your income comes from trading. Trading income is defined as income from sales, fees, contracts, service level agreements but NOT pure grant awards, investment income, donations and loans. This information can be found in your company annual accounts.

If your organisation has been operating for less than a year, you will need to provide evidence that the organisation has started trading, e.g. business bank statement, VAT return, contracts in place. You will also need to pledge to earn at least 50% of income from trading within 18 months of achieving the Mark.

Your constitution should ideally define your social objectives, but at the very least confirm that you are trading in support of a clear social and/or environmental purpose, and that a principal proportion (51% or more) of any profit made* by the business is dedicated to such purposes, as well as any remaining assets, if your organisation was to close.

*Please note it is not mandatory that your organisation makes a profit, but at least 50% of any profit made will need to be dedicated to social/environmental purposes.

You must confirm how you have strived to fulfil your social purpose over the previous year. This involves answering a set of questions designed to explore this.

If you are still unsure about whether to apply, please review the key benefits for your organisation.

How the application process works:

  1. Please start the application by completing the registration form – you will then be directed to the main application form
  2. After your application is submitted, we will start the assessment process to check you meet the criteria
  3. If your application meets the criteria, you will be given provisional approval, at which point you will be invoiced for the annual licence fee
  4. Once the invoice is paid, you will be granted full approval and sent a Welcome Pack within 2 weeks of approval
  5. You will be able to use the Social Enterprise Mark logo immediately to promote your status as an accredited social enterprise