NatWest SE100 2020: Criteria and FAQ

Update April 2020: Our NatWest SE100 Social Business Awards ceremony could not go ahead earlier this year (originally planned for 26 March 2020) because of concerns around the Coronavirus-outbreak. Since this time, the situation has changed considerably for everyone. However, all of this year's SE100 applicants have not been forgotten and the SE100 Index as well as the SE100 award winners will be announced over the course of May 2020, in our special SE100 Collection. We hope that recognising the achievements of the UK's top social enterprises over the past year will give us all some positive news to be proud of.

What is the SE100?

The NatWest SE100 Index was devised in 2010 by Pioneers Post and NatWest to recognise and reward the leading 100 social enterprises across the UK each year.

More than just a celebration of the best and brightest, the Index also serves to gather insight and market intelligence about the UK social enterprise movement, and to put some hard facts and figures behind the fantastic stories of change that characterise the sector. It aims to forge a better understanding, within social enterprise and more broadly, of the exciting, pioneering and successful organisations that identify themselves as social enterprises in the UK. 

Read more about the 2020 edition here.


How does it work?

After the closing date for entries, our panel of judges – experts in the field of social enterprise and social investment – will select 100 nominees demonstrating best business practice in eight categories: Growth, Impact, Trailblazing Newcomer, Resilience, Storyteller, Leadership, Social Investment and Environment. One award-winner in each of these categories will also be selected. The decision of the jury will be final and binding.

The Leadership Award will be presented to an invidivial; all others are presented to organisations.

The full SE100 list (Social Enterprise Top 100) plus the eight award-winners were due to be revealed at a special celebration event on 26 March 2020, in central London. However, the event had to be cancelled due to concerns around the Coronavirus-outbreak. The SE100 Index as well as the SE100 award winners will be announced over the course of May 2020, in our special SE100 Collection

What are the criteria?

The SE100 is open to UK-based mission-driven businesses. With the following criteria in mind, the jury will be looking for real pioneers who moved the social enterprise and impact investment sector forward in the past year:


Growth: for social ventures that have experienced positive, financial growth from one year to the next thanks to an entrepreneurial and sustainable business model 


Impact: for enterprises that take considerable measures to demonstrate and communicate the social or environmental impact of their business, using this to improve their performance and win new business


Trailblazing Newcomer: for new enterprises (under 3 years of trading) who have made great strides to become a leader among their peers, combining solid growth with a commitment to proving their positive impact


Resilience: for social ventures that continually deliver positive social or environmental change and repeatedly achieve impact goals, successfully tackling challenges and overcoming difficulties​


Storytelling: for social ventures that have created and delivered a brilliant communications campaign to drive the impact and scale of their activity


Leadership: for social enterprise bosses demonstrating excellent leadership, effectiveness and inspiration in taking the team on a mission-driven journey to success



SE100 Investment

Social Investment: for groundbreaking or innovative deals in social / impact investment



SE100 Environmental categoryEnvironment: for organisations doing pioneering work in the social enterprise space with a focus on environmental issues




How can I submit my entry?

Every UK-based social enterprise can apply themselves, or they may be nominated by a third party (however, since detailed business information is required in most cases we expect business themselves to apply). 

For the social investment category, either the investor or the investee may apply. The award will be presented to both jointly.

All the awards use the same application form, which is also the form for the top 100 assessment.

You must choose at least one of the eight categories above.

Your entry must be submitted via online form, however if you want to view the entry form, you can also download the PDF here


What are the timelines for the SE100 2020?

  • Applications close on Friday 31 January 2020 but please enter as soon as possible, as we will not be able to accommodate technical glitches encountered at the last minute.
  • Shortlisting and due diligence for the Top 100, demonstrating best business practice per category, will be done during February 2020.
  • The judges will select eight winners – one per category – out of the Top 100 in late February / early March 2020. Their judgement is binding.
  • The full SE100 list 2020 including the eight Social Business Award winners will be announced on – keep an eye on our special SE100 Collection for the announcements
  • Post-event, Pioneers Post will be in touch with all Top 100 social enterprises to gather more in-depth information, which will be analysed and presented in a detailed Insights Report. The 2019 SE100 Insights Report will be published soon.


Why should social enterprises enter?

Those listed on the SE100 will benefit from:

  • Recognition as one of the UK's top social enterprises – joining a prestigious cohort of the country's most pioneering social businesses from the past ten years
  • A listing on a high-profile news story (one of the most-visited pages on
  • A special digital badge that can be used on your website to display your achievement 
  • Opportunities for further media coverage on Pioneers Post throughout the year
  • A discounted subscription to Pioneers Post – giving you unlimited online access to thousands of features, interviews and expert advice


The eight award-winners will benefit from all of the above, plus:

  • An opportunity to present their achievements to 300+ people at the SE100 celebration on 26 March
  • A trophy custom-designed and made by a social enterprise artist
  • A free ticket to our Good Leaders event on 3 June 2020 – our new event designed especially for  high-flying leaders from social enterprises and mission-driven businesses 
  • A free annual subscription to Pioneers Post

In addition, every entry to the SE100 helps inform our Insights Report, which takes the temperature of the country's leading social enterprises and will be made publicly available. (Data will be anonymised; we will only cite your business name if you grant us permission to do so.)

Here's what some of our previous winners have to say:

“The award has been a major talking point with investors, staff and the social enterprises we work with. It really makes us feel proud that our peers and industry have recognised what we’ve achieved, in conjunction with our partner St.Mungo’s. Winning has also put an even greater spotlight on homelessness, and helped us raise awareness of the issue to a wider audience.” - Resonance, 2019 Investment Award 


I've been listed on the SE100 before, can I enter again?

Yes, the SE100 recognises the top 100 in a given year, so you are more than welcome to apply again.

How much does it cost to enter?

Nothing! We don't want fees to be a potential barrier to recognising the best of the best, so there's no entry fee. 

Tickets to the SE100 celebration event will also be free and open to all, but must be booked in advance. Keep an eye on our website for details of tickets.

Want to support us? Check out our subscription options.


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What are the eight categories?

The Top 100 social enterprises on the SE100 demonstrate best business practice in the following eight categories:

  • Growth
  • Impact
  • Trailblazing Newcomer
  • Resilience
  • Storyteller
  • Leadership
  • Social Investment
  • Environment

Each category corresponds to an Award. 

Six of the categories – Growth, Impact, Trailblazing Newcomer, Resilience, Storyteller, Environment – will see an Award presented to an organisation. The Social Investment Award, recognising the most groundbreaking or innovative deal, will be given to the winning investor and investee jointly. The Leadership Award will be given to an individual.


Why is there an Environment category this year?

This year we've introduced a new category for enterprises that take considerable measures to demonstrate and communicate the environmental impact of their business.

This category recognises that action on the environment and on climate change is increasingly a concern for social entrepreneurs, and aims to encourage and support those leading by example.  It reflects widespread sentiment among entrepreneurs that environmental responsibility is vital – 75% of UK social enterprises consider environmental impact equally or more important than cost, and nearly two-thirds expect to increase their focus on sustainability in the next few years. Yet, we also know that many are still unclear about what to prioritise and about where their responsibility lies. Our new Environmental Champion award will help to put a spotlight on the social enterprises pioneering environmental causes while retaining their social ethos. 

(Read our feature on how social enterprises are reacting to the climate crisis here.)


Can I enter more than one category?

Yes. Each category will require you to submit certain information, so as long as your entry is complete for multiple categories the judges will consider your submission.


Why is the SE100 based on an entry form this time, and not on our SE100 profile as in previous years?

Our SE100 was initially based on detailed data collection, submitted by social enterprises, that provided an extensive “Index” of the social enterpirse sector – no one was collecting this data at that time. As we grew to more than 3,000 organisations it became harder to collect in-depth information.

Now that Social Enterprise UK publishes its "State of the Sector Report" on a regular basis (with average turnover, size etc.), we wanted to return to the original idea of a Top 100 and specifically focus on gathering more in-depth insight from the top 100 social enterprises in any given year.

Once the Top 100 list is defined, the teams of Pioneers Post and NatWest will undertake further research into these 100 enterprises. This provides added value with more in-depth information, so we'll work with a smaller sample but more in-depth data, in order to gain valuable business insights for the sector.

This information also functions as an example for other social enterprises, aligning with Pioneers Post's mission to "help you do good business, better".


What happens with our information?

Your confidential information will be stored on a secure database and will not be shared publicly. It will be only shared by our team of co-ordinators and judges for due diligence purposes. Key facts about winners and shortlisted candidates will be shared as part of the publicity for the awards.


Where can I get more information?

Please send all enquiries to: You can also contact our the Pioneers Post team by calling 020 3941 2400.


Read more stories from previous SE100 winners in our NatWest SE100 Collection