What is the Social Enterprise Gold Mark?

The Social Enterprise Gold Mark is the only standard of social enterprise excellence

Achieve Social Enterprise Excellence

When milestones are reached, where does your social enterprise head next? If being the best at what you do is one of your goals, how do you know you’re on course to achieve this?

The Social Enterprise Gold Mark is a prestigious accolade, which demonstrates your organisation has been through a rigorous external assessment process to achieve a recognised social enterprise quality standard.

It offers enhanced accreditation to social enterprises which can show best practice in proof points across key business areas:

  • governance
  • stakeholder engagement
  • business ethics
  • financial transparency
  • social impact

It is not just about social impact, it’s about measuring the different elements which make a great social enterprise excellent. The Social Enterprise Gold Mark is the only quality mark to provide a comprehensive framework for achieving social enterprise excellence.

The Gold Mark was launched at the House of Commons in 2014, and there is now a growing network of gold standard accredited social enterprises, including Integrated Care 24, York St John University, and University of Northampton.

The Social Enterprise Gold Mark is a symbol of excellence for social enterprises.

It is awarded to organisations that can prove best practice across key business areas, including social impact, financial transparency and business ethics.

Social Enterprise Gold Mark holders

What are the benefits?

Proof of excellence

Stand apart from the crowd, by demonstrating excellence in governance, stakeholder engagement, business ethics, financial transparency and social impact

Prove your good business sense

Prove your good business practices, e.g. that your staff are fairly treated and rewarded, and that your profits are distributed ethically


Show the people that matter – staff, customers and partners – how you govern and operate your organisation to create social and environmental benefit

Tailored action plan

Build on what’s unique about your organisation: receive an individually tailored action plan for continuous improvement, in line with guidelines of best practice.

York St John University is delighted and honoured to have been awarded the Social Enterprise Gold Mark. This much-coveted accreditation is only given to those organisations who can demonstrate they are making a real difference to their community and the environment.

We are one of only a few universities in the UK to have achieved this status and I am deeply grateful that the hard work and dedication of the York St John teams involved have been recognised in such a positive way.

Assessment Framework

The Social Enterprise Gold Mark assessment framework has been developed for companies to show evidence on how they either strive to achieve or have achieved these goals. Applicants are externally assessed by our Certification Panel and asked to set new goals for continuous improvement on a rolling basis every three years.

Applicants are not required to meet all aspects of the framework, but should be able to demonstrate compliance with a wide variety of the items referred to.

The criteria of the Social Enterprise Gold Mark builds upon the six criteria of the original Social Enterprise Mark (which also form part of the Gold Mark assessment). The Social Enterprise Gold Mark assesses five additional criteria:

  • Robust governance
  • Effective stakeholder engagement
  • Ethical and good business practice
  • Financial transparency
  • Social impact reporting

Click here to find out more about the Gold Mark assessment framework.

How much does it cost?

The fee tier will be assessed each year at the point of renewal, so if turnover has increased or decreased, the licence fee payable will adjust accordingly.

Annual income Fee (+ VAT)
less than £100,000 £1,900
£100,000 – £200,000 £2,000
£200,000 – £499,000 £2,100
£500,000 – £999,999 £2,200
£1,000,000 – £2,999,999 £2,340
£3,000,000 – £5,999,999 £3,500
£6,000,000 – £9,999,999 £4,240
£10,000,000 – £14,999,999 £5,244
£15,000,000 – £29,999,999 £8,300
£30,000,000 – £49,999,999 £10,000
£50,000,000 – £99,999,999 £12,000
£100,000,000 and above £14,000

All fees are inclusive of the Social Enterprise Mark licence fee.

Applicants are invoiced up front for the licence fee. International applications will be subject to an additional non-refundable administration fee of £150. 

Please note – all fees are subject to regular review.

“I just want to say what a pleasure the experience of applying for the Social Enterprise Gold Mark has been.

I don’t think we could possibly have anticipated at the start of the process just how beneficial it would be to our thinking.”

How do I apply?

Check if you are likely to meet our criteria .

Please contact us if you have any concerns about qualifying or would like to discuss the criteria in more detail: call Rachel Fell on 07790 908829 or via email

Complete our short Registration Form and we will be in touch within 2 working days to discuss the next steps.

Click here to find out more about what’s involved in the assessment process.

Social Enterprise Gold Mark plaque

Social Enterprise Gold Mark assessment process_SUMMARY

Next steps

Further information

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions you may have about the Social Enterprise Gold Mark, or to discuss your eligibility.