Social purpose

What is our social purpose criteria?

To be eligible for funding from the Forward Enterprise Fund, an organisation shall have a clear social mission to create jobs and employment opportunities to ex-offenders or people in recovery. 

The organisation can be a company or a charity with trading activities that are linked to its social mission.

If the social enterprise is to be sold or merges with another organisation, the Director or Directors will make the best efforts to preserve the social mission under the new ownership.

Eligible legal structures

Individuals and organisations that have been successful in applying to the Forward Enterprise Fund will need to have one of the following legal structures before any funding can be disbursed:

  • Regulated organisations (e.g. charities, Community Interest Companies or Community Benefit Societies which pursue charitable objectives).
  • Unregulated social sector organisations (such as Companies Limited by Guarantee, Companies Limited by Shares and Industrial and Provident Societies) must be able to meet the criteria below.

If you are an individual who have not yet registered your business, you can get advice on how to do this, as part of the business support that you can apply for.

All applicants should consider the Fund’s criteria before starting an application to the Fund and be confident that you will be able to demonstrate and provide evidence that the organisation will be able to meet all of the Social Purpose Criteria.

Criteria for unregulated organisations

1. Mission lock and activities:

  • Have a clear social mission which is similar to a recognised charitable purpose
  • Carry out trading activities in support of and which are causally linked to its social mission
  • In the case of a sale of the enterprise, the director makes best efforts to preserve the social mission under new ownership

2. Profit distribution and asset lock:

  • Distribute less than 50% of post-tax profits
  • Mainly reinvest surpluses into pursuing their social mission
  • Have a constitutional or contractual lock on its Social Objects, dividend policy and an “asset-lock”

3. Public benefit and private gain, use of public funds:

  • Offer its products and services for general public benefit without restrictions and barriers, such as affordability
  • Can be established that private gain is incidental and minimal as a result of the Fund’s support
  • Have no state aid issues (de Minimis may be used where appropriate)

4. Transparency:

  • Articulate, evidence, measure and report on its social impact and charitable purpose
  • Open to undertaking an independent social impact audit
  • Have a remuneration and benefits policy which it is willing to make open, and which is reasonable and proportionate relative to the market practice for social sector organisations

If you are applying on behalf of an unregulated organisation, you should consider the above criteria before starting your application to the Fund and be satisfied that you can demonstrate (and evidence) that the organisation meets all of the Social Purpose Criteria.

For further clarification, please email

For more information on why we have these eligibility criteria, please see FAQs