Many charities are facing a challenging and uncertain future at a time when their support and services are critical for so many. At the same time, philanthropy is having a resurgence.
Forward thinking responsible businesses, influential donors, and families with new philanthropic enterprises are applying their wealth, connections, and expertise to confront the challenges that impact the causes that matter to them the most.
All charities from well known international charities to smaller community foundations are having to reinvent how they engage with those they depend on for funding and involvement and how they reach out to their beneficiaries.
Charities are businesses and need to comply with the same laws and pressures as any other commercial ‘profit making’ business. The only exception is that efforts and funds raised are spent furthering distinct charitable purposes for the public benefit. As a trustee or executive of a charity you will be contending with a changing regulatory and legislative environment and facing increasing pressure from regulators and the charity’s funders to act professionally in accordance with good governance requirements.
Part of the beauty, but also a challenge of the sector is that charities come in all shapes and sizes. Some have necessary complex corporate structures with a large body of involved active members, some are companies limited by guarantee, Royal Charter companies, charitable incorporated organisations or grant giving charitable trusts.
In trying to survive and thrive in a rapidly changing world you may be looking for new ways to raise funds, collaborate with others or to develop or engage with new technology to enable your charity to continue to provide first class support for beneficiaries and to raise funds as efficiently and effectively as possible.
We know the sector (including its many sub-sectors) inside out and we offer a wealth of expertise and personal first-hand experience helping trustees and senior leadership staff through mergers and restructuring, transformative projects, exciting collaborations, and also difficult periods caused by membership issues, lack of funding, legislative unintended consequences or internal disputes. We have established long term relationships with our clients and want to be there to help you throughout your charity’s journey.
We are experts in charity and philanthropy and the wider not-for-profit sector. We act for all types of charities. Some by their nature require specialist knowledge and focus including:
As the number of those serving in the armed forces continues to significantly decrease, mergers, consolidations and other forms of working together are enabling armed forces charities to achieve more effective fundraising and use of resources.
We have over a century of experience of advising military charities. We currently work with many of the major charities representing each of the armed services, undertaking work across fundraising and commercial contracts, governance, mergers and legal compliance. Many of our military clients defy classification or work across the services and we make a special effort to get to know the unique spirit of each of charity that we act for.
It is challenging time for many of our educational clients and our multi-disciplinary team of experts have a strong track record of acting for:
- many well-known and successful schools within the independent sector,
- further and higher education institutions; and
- a number of professional bodies within the education sector engaged in the production of specialist publications and the training and assessment of candidates for different levels of academic and professional competence.
Our school clients are requesting our assistance on a diverse range of innovative strategies, such as the ability to pursue international aims, the development of lucrative alternative income streams, and mergers and collaborations with others in order to achieve efficiencies and economies of scale without compromising the delivery of a first class education to their pupils. We provide support on a wide variety of issues including charity law and governance, employment law, property and construction matters, dispute resolution and data protection. We are also well placed to provide broader strategic advice and advise on commercial arrangements with third parties
The trustees of faith charities, like those of most charities, face many challenges and many of these challenges have a legal dimension.
- Their charity may have a constitution which is cumbersome and out of date, perhaps acting more as a hindrance than a help to the efficient deployment of the charity’s resources
- The charity may have buildings which are out of date and too large (or too small) and which the charity could use more effectively if they were modified; these buildings may be of heritage quality; the charity may be responsible for consecrated ground; it may have investment properties to manage
- The charity may have issues in managing its reputation – something vital to any charity
The charity may wish to use and protect its intellectual property more efficiently
- If the charity provides services to young people or to other vulnerable people its trustees will wish to ensure that they comply with both the law and good practice in providing these services
- The trustees may wish to expand their fundraising activities, perhaps embarking upon commercial fund raising activities
- A legacy to the charity may be disputed
- If the charity employs staff its trustees will need advice on employment and pension law issues
- The trustees may be thinking of a merger or winding up of their charity
All these issues may raise sensitivities not present in quite the same way with a non-faith based charity. There may be clashes between the religious aims of the charity and the secular law. The charity may have to comply with old and obscure legislation. It may be answerable to different regulators.
At Charles Russell Speechlys, we can advise on all these issues. We bring together a wide range of expertise within the firm to provide a joined up service.
Royal Charter Companies
We have acted for three leading chartered bodies for almost a century, evidence of our long-standing client relationships.
We understand the complexity and nuances involved in these particular organisations, and our extensive experience positions us well to provide timely and relevant advice.
We represent a variety of clients, ranging from livery companies, sport and professional bodies to defence, education and medical charities. Many of these organisations are very old and well known, but all are keen to ensure that they have a modern and appropriate governance and structure, while continuing to retain their historical character and identity.
Our expertise extends to petitioning for new or supplemental charters, advising on process and documentation, assisting with the obtaining of regulatory and other consents as well as advising on and drafting amendments to charters, byelaws, statutes, rules, regulations and ordinances, and the accompanying resolutions which need to be passed by the relevant trustees and members.
The COVID-19 pandemic has raised the profile of NHS charities and many have seen an unprecedented stream of donations which need to be prudently managed and spent in the best interests of the charity. We can help NHS charities to gear up to respond to increased interest from corporates and others and to demonstrate necessary organisational independence from the relevant NHS trust whilst simultaneously negotiating recognition as a strategic partner to provide funding and services to benefit patients and wider communities. In providing vital funds and services to support the NHS, NHS charities must take care to ensure that such provision and services are above and beyond what the NHS can provide.
Increasing concerns around sustainability and inequality have led to individuals, families and businesses wishing to give effectively and in a more strategic way.
This means we are advising clients every day on the choices they can make to achieve their philanthropic goals. This is core to what we do in using our skills, our wider capabilities and connections for good purpose.
Our team includes leaders in the philanthropy world and our advice is empowering our individual and corporate clients to start and enhance their philanthropic endeavours. Find out more about philanthropy, sustainability and impact.
Meet the team
Charities & Not-for-profit
We offer our charity clients a comprehensive service covering the full range of legal disciplines.Read more
Trust and confidence in the charities and not-for-profit sector
We recently surveyed our clients to gain an insight into the current issues and pressures for charities and other not-for-profit organisations. Download our report which summarises our findings.Read more
Charles Russell Speechlys become a Corporate Member of Philanthropy Impact
Charles Russell Speechlys are delighted to become a Corporate Member of Philanthropy Impact.
Sustainable Investing: From ESG Integration to Impact Investing
We have a wide perspective on the range of issues that fall within the spectrum from ESG to impact investing.
Pro bono partnership between Charles Russell Speechlys and Social Business Trust
Our partnership with Social Business Trust (SBT) is going from strength to strength.
Setting up a charitable foundation and sustainable investment
Heather Maizels and Sarah Rowley discuss aspects of philanthropy, including setting up a charitable foundation and sustainable investments
How have philanthropists responded to COVID-19 impact? What trends have we started to see?
Philanthropists have responded quickly since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.
COVID-19: Charity Update
COVID-19 has placed charities and not-for-profits under financial pressure, yet their role is more important than ever.
A charitable celebration
Charitable giving in Surrey
Community Fund for Surrey
Learn about our approach to philanthropic giving.
Automatic disqualification: the rules change on 1 August 2018
Charities should have systems in place to check whether any of their trustees or senior managers will now be disqualified.
Sarah Rowley provides an update on the topic of 'safeguarding' following recent scandals in the sector.
Alan Kitcher joins Charles Russell Speechlys as Head of Trusts & Probate
Charles Russell Speechlys has appointed Alan Kitcher as Head of Trusts and Probate.
George Duncan featured in The Guardian's article on plans to build a car park on historic graveyard
Charles Russell Speechlys promotes eight to Partner
A further four have been promoted to Legal Director and 22 to Senior Associate.
Charities’ wrongs – can the law remedy them?
Sarah Rowley was recently quoted in The Times in an article focussing on the Oxfam GB case in Haiti.
Sarah Rowley comments in The Times on whether the law can right charities' wrongs
Supporting good causes this Christmas
Whether supporting a cause close to your or raising funds, there are a number of important issues to consider
Charles Russell Speechlys Community Fund recognised by Business Magazine Awards
Charles Russell Speechlys Community Fund in Guildford recognised with Community Legacy Award,
Launch of the Fundraising Preference Service
In 2015 a cross-party parliamentary review committee conducted a review of the way charity fundraising is regulated.
The segregation of boys and girls in a mixed sex school
The segregation of boys and girls in a mixed sex school
What to do with the assets of a religious group that no longer exists?
In 2016 the High Court heard a case which involved strange byways of Victorian church history but which also involved wider issues