3.2.2 Your involvement with the Standard Mark

All groups receiving support from the Booster Programme are expected to work towards or have secured the Community Shares Standard Mark for their community share offer. However, a Booster investment is not wholly conditional on receiving the Standard Mark so there may be exceptional cases where societies receive an equity investment without the award.

Participants are expected to engage with Community Shares registered practitioners to undertake the Community Shares Standard Mark assessment. The Community Shares Unit maintains a live national directory of registered practitioners capable of providing business support to community groups and societies planning to make a community share offer.

Practitioners are people who have been trained in community shares and/or have experience of developing community share offers, including some who have been board members of societies that have made a successful offer. The directory identifies what regions practitioners work in, and their trade sector specialisms. It also identifies their expertise in business planning, community engagement, governance and/or offer documentation. There are three types of community shares practitioner:

  • Licensed practitioners: These are practitioners who are licensed to review share offers and award the Community Shares Standard Mark. They can also provide other forms of support as advisers, mentors or developers of business plans and/or offer documents.  The Standard Mark is a final independent peer review of the quality of your share offer, so it’s a good idea to use a different practitioner for the Standard Mark review.
     
  • Foundation practitioners: These are practitioners who have completed our practitioner training programme, and have demonstrated their understanding of the Community Shares Standard Mark.  Typically, these practitioners will be experts in specific aspects of community shares, but are not licensed to conduct Standard Mark reviews.
     
  • Registered practitioners: These are practitioners who are registered with the Community Shares Unit, and are working towards becoming either foundation practitioners or licensed practitioners. Those who are working towards becoming licensed practitioners can review your offer for the standard Mark under the supervision of the Community Shares Unit.

For those groups participating via Pathway 1, you can use your development grant to pay for business support. You are not obliged to use practitioners listed on our directory, except when you are commissioning a Standard Mark review of your share offer. However, we will encourage any practitioner you nominate to become a registered practitioner.

It is up to you to negotiate a support contract with your nominated practitioner and to agree their charges. Your application for a development grant must include details of this agreement, specifying the nature, volume and cost of support. We expect any practitioner you use paid for through this programme to participate in our research and learning activities. 

If you have any questions on the content included within the guidance, please contact the team.