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    Philanthropy Legal Services

Private individuals and companies with social responsibility on their agendas will often wish to use their wealth for philanthropic causes.

Modern day philanthropy is not just reserved for titans of industry. The growing emergence of responsible business and universal concern over issues of inequality and sustainability has led to unprecedented numbers of businesses, individuals and families in a position to respond, to commence their philanthropic journey.

Philanthropy is a wide term which encompasses giving up valuable time to donate expertise and experience, grant making and the art of strategic giving. We can help you  decide how best to approach philanthropy, recognising that you may wish to play an active, high profile role, or you may choose to remain anonymous and leave the decision making to others. We advise on impact, risk, tax and reputation and can make introductions to others who can help to enhance your philanthropic journey, whether that is in the UK or internationally.

Your choices may involve establishing a charitable foundation, supporting an existing charity or giving through a donor advised fund. If you’re more entrepreneurial, you may be interested in championing philanthropy as part of your responsible business agenda to help differentiate and demonstrate your brand values and social purpose.

Our philanthropy legal expertise

We can advise you on all aspects of charitable giving, including the duties and role of charity trustees, charity governance, charity tax reliefs and on regulatory matters. We can assist you on how to structure your cross border or offshore giving, including dual qualified charitable structures.

Our philanthropy specialists work with our taxation, estate planning and corporate experts to create the most appropriate structure in line with your individual requirements.

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Corporate philanthropy

Corporate philanthropy is now a significant funding stream into the charity sector and private and public companies are increasingly setting up their own charitable subsidiaries (charitable foundations) to provide them with a clear platform to demonstrate their charitable giving which in turn demonstrates their responsible business credentials.

We have supported many of our corporate clients to set up, and manage, charitable foundations and we have helped them to structure and develop grant giving programmes that deliver maximum impact. We have also applied our charity law expertise to help our corporate clients to make a difference by engaging in partnerships with charities, including engaging in commercial participator (or cause related marketing) activity.

The benefits of a charitable foundation include:

  • providing the platform for your company’s philanthropy in a transparent and accountable way
  • providing greater opportunities for staff and customer engagement
  • to demonstrate social business credentials and to show customers, employees and investors that the brand is a ‘force for good’ and to enhance your company’s brand and reputation
  • to give back to communities in the UK and internationally where your business has a presence; and
  • the opportunity to donate funds and other assets in a tax efficient way.
Family philanthropy

We have been advising families on their philanthropy for over one hundred years and have grown our capabilities as family ambitions have become more complex, and intertwined with changing family situations bringing different tax and legal issues, and new risks. Each family is driven by its own situation and determination, and wish for involvement and visible outcomes.

Some families seek to repurpose their estates, family enterprises, and businesses, and see a new philanthropy project as part of this. Some have been spurred by the immediacy of pandemics and inequality issues, and the need to build businesses and create jobs which improve communities. Younger members seek to achieve things quickly and with new people, and community groups, which may involve overseas associations.

Clients come to us with existing or recently realised assets whilst others come with new funding and many see family philanthropy as a way to unite the family around a core value. Whatever the motive and the situation, we will put together the arrangement that works for them within an overall wealth plan to safeguard the family brand, business and investment ethics.  Some see this as key to securing the new sustainable high growth opportunities.

Philanthropy projects may involve commercial arrangements with international organisations, and unknown people with complicated wealth stories, bringing new financial and reputational risks to the overall family portfolio. We advise on each project in the context of the risk to the overall portfolio as well as the project itself, presenting the choices and the risks, and the timing implications.

International philanthropy

As issues of inequality and climate threats become part of daily life, and more people and business determine to use their power and influence to confront them, we are increasingly engaged in working with our clients to achieve what matters most to them in confronting these challenges. For some it is going alone to pursue a particular project, for others its working with other people committed in the same way, or businesses with a relevant connection to the cause, or bringing in local state bodies, or stakeholder communities. Whatever the arrangement sought we will devise the framework that suits you, and your overall situation, bringing in our firm wide specialists who can alert you to the risks and the choices, as they deal with the tax and legal issues, the commercial and operations issues, as well as your reputational concerns.

Sports philanthropy

The worlds of sport and charity frequently collide as sports personalities use their personal brand and wealth to make a difference to projects, campaigns and charitable activity with which they have a personal connection, experience and valuable perspective.

Likewise, commercial sports organisations, sports regulatory bodies and professional and amateur teams and competitions are placing integrity at the heart of their culture and brand. We are helping our sports clients to demonstrate their affinity to particular causes, and use their influence to raise funds and awareness of popular social, charitable or environmental initiatives.


Sustainability Hub

Visit our Sustainability Hub for important updates and insights.

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Meet our philanthropy lawyers

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