Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How does my social enterprise become certified?
1. Complete the online form
Society Profits uses the free online form on the Good Market platform for primary curation. The form can be completed from a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Help and tech support are available on the platform and by email.
It takes an average of 15-30 minutes to sign up and complete the Good Market form. The Certified Social Enterprise questions at the end of the form take an average of 45 minutes. The Good Market form is usually processed within 24 hours. If it is approved, a free basic profile will be published on the Good Market global platform, and your profile will be added to the Society Profits network.
Society Profits reviews the Certified Social Enterprise questions and sends a follow-up email. If all criteria are met, supplementary documents are requested.
2. Submit supplementary documents
After receiving confirmation from Society Profits that the criteria are met, submit supplementary documents to Society Profits by email. These documents are for internal use only and will not be displayed, shared, or made publicly available.
Registration and governing documents
Financial statements detailing revenue and profit distribution
Impact statements detailing social and / or environmental impact
Submit a signed Social Enterprise Public Declaration to be displayed on the Society Profits website and your website.
3. Pay annual license fee
After paying the annual license fee, you will be:
Recognized as a USA Certified Social Enterprise
Able to use USA Certified Social Enterprise brand resources
Included in USA Certified Social Enterprise search results on the Good Market platform
Eligible for social procurement opportunities through the Buy Social USA network.
Q: How does my company become a social impact buyer?
A: Just use the link at the bottom of the Buyers Page to get in touch with Buy Social USA.
Q: Will it cost us more to buy from social impact companies?
A: This is a common fear amongst procurement managers but research shows that companies involved in social impact procurement find the goods and services they buy to be of equal or higher quality with little or no increase in price point. Social impact procurement is an emerging market in the US and as such there is not a lot of US based research, but Society Profits is part of a global network of similar companies that have been working in this space for many years. We can put you in touch with similar companies all over the globe so that you can ask real questions and get first hand answers, from companies that have done this already.
Q: How is Social Impact Business different from Small Local Business?
A: A bit like ripples on a pond, buying goods and services from a social impact business not only supports the local economy, it also directs all of its focus and profits towards solving social and environmental issues – 59% of social enterprises actively employ people disadvantaged from the labor market, 31% are based in the 20% most deprived areas in the country, 84% employ local people, 12% of social enterprise leaders are African American or from ethnic minorities, 40% are women. Social enterprises are also outstripping Small & Medium Enterprises (SME’s) for growth of sales (52% to 40%). A study in Maine showed that $100 spent in a local store rather than a national box store, created $300 of local spend. Another study in Canada showed that spending $100 in a social enterprise created $450 of local regeneration, local spending, social and environmental impact.
Q: What is Social Impact Procurement?
A: Simply put, social impact procurement means buying your companies regular goods and services directly or indirectly from social impact business sellers. Research from Procurious showed that in 2018 the main point of procurement in most corporations and publicly funded organizations was cost reduction (38%) and risk management (22%). However, these same companies are projecting that by 2030 the focus will shift towards driving supplier innovation (29%) and sustainability (25%) with risk management third (18%). Social Enterprises are both innovative and focused on risk reduction. 59% developed a new product or service in the last year (22% SME). By nature of their social and environmental mission they also reduce environmental impact, avoid modern slavery, tackle water scarcity and so much more.
Q: Why is Social Impact Procurement better for the community and environment than Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?
A: The average annual spend for CSR at the top Fortune 500 companies is around $10m per year but procurement / purchasing of everyday goods and services runs into the $billions for these same companies. The corporate gift market is $125B alone. Social impact businesses offer a wide range of products such as office supplies, refreshments, food and beverages, waste management and janitorial services, security, event management and staffing agencies, web development, social media, marketing and PR services, corporate gifts, training and human resource services and so much more. These goods and services are held to the same standards as any of their other vendors. In addition to this they are giving back to local communities, the environment and the most at risk in our society. How’s that for scaling CSR! Of the $23trillion annual GDP spend, 37% is state and federal government spending on goods and services. If governments made purchases from social enterprises it would save tax payer dollars.
Q: How do I know I am buying from genuine social impact businesses?
A: Society Profits is the only provider in the US to offer the third-party verified accreditation program, USA Certified Social Enterprise. This accreditation was founded over 12 years ago by the Social Enterprise Mark CIC company in the UK and then adapted for the US. At Society Profits we use and uphold the globally recognized standards for defining a social enterprise that were framed by the Social Enterprise World Forum.
Certification is an independent guarantee that the companies business remains ethical, credible and commercial. USA Certified Social Enterprise is an excellence framework that encourages social enterprises to develop their capabilities and continuously improve. This means that buyers can rest assured that each of their suppliers has been externally, independently verified as a genuine social enterprise.
Q: How is the USA Certified Social Enterprise accreditation different from B Corp?
A: We are all for certified B Corps existing, and for some social enterprises that was the only choice available to them up until now! Here are some of the most important differences between being a certified B Corp versus a USA Certified Social Enterprise:
1. Certified social enterprises must be reinvesting and spending more than 51% of their profit in social or environmental impact - B Corps do not have this stipulation.
2. You can become a certified B Corp by achieving 40% of their standards (80 points out of 200), to be a certified social enterprise you must meet the criteria 100%.
3. B Corp only certify for-profit companies. The USA Certified social enterprise accreditation looks at the principals of social enterprise not the legal entity type. Companies must be able to demonstrate 51% or more reinvestment of profit into impact, have an asset lock and be an independent organization.
Q: Can I be a non-profit and a social enterprise?
A: In the USA, being a social enterprise doesn't have a specific business entity type. Some other countries have types of company, like a Community Interest Company in the UK, that is Government Regulated to ensure it complies with global social enterprise standards such as asset lock and use of profits. Here in the US we rely on a set of principles and criteria for determining if your company is a social enterprise or not. The main criteria is about use of company profits or surplus revenues. That is why certification is so important! Simply put, we prefer the term Not-For-Private-Profit as a good explanation. Please feel free to Contact Us to learn more. We pride ourselves on our transparency. Our Public Declaration criteria ensures that all information submitted by a social enterprise is publicly available before certification is awarded.
Q: Is Society Profits a membership organization?
A: No. Plain and simple - we have no interest in being a membership organization. Society Profits is absolutely a network builder, but we like to do that in collaboration with existing, amazing local membership organizations and networks. We see ourselves as a service provider for social impact businesses in the US looking for certification. We charge an annual license fee for taking companies through the USA Certified Social Enterprise accreditation process because it costs us money to provide a thorough, third-party accreditation. This helps us to cover our overheads. We dedicate all surplus revenue to growing the social enterprise movement in the USA.
Q: Have a different question? Ask away! Our aim is to be transparent and trustworthy so that you can rest assured we have done our homework and you can buy with confidence from USA Certified Social Enterprises.