NatWest SE100: insider tips for an award-winning application

Entering the NatWest SE100 Index and Social Business Awards is your chance to be noticed among the best and brightest of social enterprise in the UK. With the deadline approaching fast (25 April), we’ve got some top tips to wow the judges and give you the best chance of being selected. Don’t start your application without them...

Professional awards are often shrouded in mystery. Supposedly there’s a knack for writing prize-winning entries, and some organisations even hire in specialist award writers. 

But you don’t need an expert wordsmith, nor even to spend a whole day on your SE100 application. What you do need are these three key tips for applying, plus our guidance for each of this year’s six categories. 


Three things to remember


1. Set aside one hour

You will need around one hour to complete your application. You can also return to the survey to pick up where you left off and edit previous responses until you are ready to submit your entry.

2. Give enough detail and evidence 

It is always tempting to tell a great story, but remember that we need clear examples of outcomes, facts and figures to back up your claims!

Some questions are optional, but the more answers you provide, the more points judges can score you, which will increase your chance of making it into the top 100.

3. Get your accounts 

You will need your full annual accounts (balance sheet and P&L) and any impact information you have to help you provide accurate answers.


Social Business Awards: what the judges are looking for

A complete application will automatically be considered for the SE100 Index, the list of top 100 social enterprises. If you want to also be considered for one (or more) of our top awards, you’ll need to fill out more detail. Make sure you read the tips below. 



Leader of the Year

We know people want to give leaders the praise they deserve but remember to back that up with hard evidence. If you say somebody is fantastic in the way they support their team then make sure you give an example to demonstrate what they did.

Impact Management Champion

All social enterprises deliver positive impact – that’s the point, right? But surprisingly few of them actually collect evidence to demonstrate the impact they have made, or to back up the stories they tell about changing people’s lives. To be an Impact Champion you need to provide this evidence – and demonstrate how you have used this to learn how to change and improve what you are doing.

‘Impact is clearly at the heart of everything that the organisation does’ -  SE100 judges on the 2020 Impact Management Champion (joint winner), Shared Interest Society 

Climate Champion

If the world is burning then – as mission-driven ventures – social enterprises have a responsibility to do something about it. If you are entering this award we want to hear about the specific initiative that you are delivering and how it’s making a difference for the planet. Can it be replicated, shared and achieve enough scale to make a real impact? And, alongside this specific initiative, how are you taking responsibility and action more generally for the climate crisis?

Note that this category is not just for social enterprises whose primary focus is climate action; if you’re working in another unrelated area but making great strides on climate action too, we want to hear from you.

Social Investment Award

Why is this deal the UK’s deal of the year? What makes it particularly unique, innovative or impressive? What can others learn from what you have done with this investment and from how you have done it? Our judges are also interested in how the investor and investee have managed and delivered impact, how they have balanced the power dynamic and who else has been involved (is this a great example of collaboration, for example?).

‘A real investee-led deal… truly innovative’ - SE100 judges on the 2020 Social Investment Award winners, Social and Sustainable Capital and Hull Women’s Network

Growth Champion 

Getting bigger is not a meaningful goal in itself – but if you can grow your social business successfully and sustainably (ie meeting your costs and making a profit to reinvest) then growth means you can also increase your impact. To be our Growth Champion you need to show how much you have grown – but also how well. In other words, how sustainable is that growth (or is it just because you won a big grant or contract as a one-off), how entrepreneurial (did you come up with a great idea for a new revenue stream) and what it is that this growth will achieve?

Resilience Award

Sometimes this is about a heroic struggle for survival – so what hit you and how did you cope or recover? In other instances it’s not so much about being a hero but being realistic and patient – have you shown strength in the longer term on behalf of the social mission you are there to deliver? What can you share that others might learn from on their way to cultivating a successful social enterprise model?


You can enter as many categories as you like, but your organisation must be based in the UK. Read our full criteria and FAQ for more information – and don’t forget to apply by Sunday 25 April.