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, whilst genuinely proving it to yourself and the world?

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 across several key business areas that are central to social enterprise excellence:

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

It is not just about saying you add social value and deliver such benefits as your primary business purpose, it’s about evaluating exactly how you deliver social enterprise excellence: the Social Enterprise Gold Mark is the only quality standard to provide a comprehensive framework for helping social enterprises build towards and demonstrate this.

The Gold Mark was launched at the House of Commons in 2014, and the network of gold standard accredited social enterprises includes Integrated Care 24, The Growth Company and University of Westminster.

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.

Logos of organisations which hold the Social Enterprise Gold Mark accreditation

What are the benefits?

Proof of excellence

Stand apart from the crowd, by gaining external verification of your excellence across several key business areas, such as governance, stakeholder engagement, business ethics, financial transparency and how you report social impact.

Prove your good business sense

Prove your commitment to good business practices through the policies you have in place to promote these and the actions you take that show it, e.g. promoting employee work-life balance and adding social value through procurement.


Show the people that matter – staff, customers and partners – how you set objectives, plan and manage your organisation to create social and environmental benefit, and that their views are important in how you do this.

Tailored action plan

Build on what’s unique about your organisation: receive a report that helps you celebrate your strengths and a tailored action that can help you plan for continuous improvement, in line with social enterprise best practice.

Listen to Richard Allen of Integrated Care 24 explain how the assessment for the Social Enterprise Gold Mark supported them to embed social reporting across their organisation.

“We have been inundated with feedback from those involved by how ‘at-ease’ they felt talking with Richard and grateful that they were able to discuss (and reflect on) their areas of work through this assessment process.

Assessment Framework

The Social Enterprise Gold Mark assessment framework has been developed to help organisations of all shapes and sizes to show how they strive to achieve excellence as a social enterprise, and that they are continuously looking to maintain and build upon these standards.

Applicants are externally assessed by the Social Enterprise Mark CIC.  Assessments are regularly reviewed by an independent Accreditation Panel, who provide an oversight function to ensure assessments remain robust and consistent with defined criteria and expectations.

The Social Enterprise Gold Mark is split into two levels:

  • Social Enterprise Excellence – where an organisation has demonstrated a range of good practice across all five criteria as whole, even if they are stronger in some criteria, and less so in others.
  • Social Enterprise Outstanding Practice – where an organisation has demonstrated the highest levels of excellence and has clearly and unequivocally shown robust good practice across all the criteria.

To meet the Social Enterprise Excellence standard, organisations are not required to meet all aspects of the framework, but should be able to demonstrate compliance with a wide variety of the subject matter referred to across all the criteria.

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 £2,090
£100,000 – £199,999 £2,200
£200,000 – £499,000 £2,310
£500,000 – £999,999 £2,420
£1,000,000 – £2,999,999 £2,570
£3,000,000 – £5,999,999 £3,850
£6,000,000 – £9,999,999 £4,660
£10,000,000 – £14,999,999 £5,770
£15,000,000 – £29,999,999 £9,130
£30,000,000 – £49,999,999 £11,000
£50,000,000 – £99,999,999 £13,200
£100,000,000 and above £15,400

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 £165. 

Please note – all fees are subject to regular review.

Successful organisations must renew their licence to retain the Social Enterprise Gold Mark every year, which involves a basic assessment to confirm core eligibility requirements continue to be met, and that they have addressed any required actions agreed at their last assessment; following every third annual licence renewal they must be fully re-assessed against the standard.

How do I apply?

Check if you are likely to meet our criteria using our simple eligibility quiz.

Please contact us if you have any concerns about qualifying or would like to discuss the criteria in more detail: call 0345 504 6536 or email

Complete our short Registration Form and we will be in touch 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

Register your interest

Complete this short form to register your interest in applying for accreditation. We aim to respond within 3 working days to provide more information and answer any questions you may have.

If you check this box, we will add you to our supporters mailing list, which we send regular updates to about our network of accredited social enterprises and our accreditation services. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the email.