We help people and corporate organisations fulfil their philanthropic ambitions by providing astute and clear advice, rooted in decades of experience in the charity sector.  We also help family and corporate foundations, once established, on an ongoing basis in relation to the full spectrum of legal issues.  

How we help

Individual philanthropists

Individual philanthropists come to Bates Wells for our intricate understanding of charity law, our practical advice and our many years of experience. We’ve advised on major gifts to significant institutions. We’ve established charities for City financiers, celebrities and high net worth individuals. And we’ve worked with families and friends to establish foundations in memory of loved ones.

We can help you to decide on a philanthropic structure.   And whatever structure you decide on, we can steer you through any governance issues, from day-to-day considerations through to managing complex issues on an ongoing basis.

For family foundations, we can advise on how best to structure your charity as a collaborative exercise, drawing in the younger generations to shape the giving of future family members.

If you’re considering gifting a major donation to a charity or institution, we can guide you every step of the way – we’ve advised on some of the largest donations ever made to universities like SOAS and Oxford.

We are able to work collaboratively and seamlessly with your private client lawyers to achieve your philanthropic ambition, bringing our unparallelled sector experience to the table.

Corporates and corporate foundations

Philanthropy for corporate organisations can take many forms. Perhaps you partner with a charity as part of your CSR activity – or maybe you make one-off gifts directly. You may be considering more structured options, like donor advised funds or a charitable foundation.

Whatever your approach, we can help. Our years of expertise have given us a practical, real-world understanding of how the law applies to corporate giving.  Our advice is always tailored to your unique situation.

When it comes to corporate foundations, we’ll guide you through establishment, mindful of protecting your business’ name and interests whilst maintaining the independence of the foundation. We have a unique insight into the Charity Commission’s guidance on charities working with non-charities – we were heavily involved in the consultation. We understand not only the letter of the law, but also how to apply it practically and reasonably - including in relation to employee involvement.

We advise on all aspects of the company/foundation relationship, from stakeholder management to dealing with mission drift. We appreciate the need to balance the interests of the corporate within the overarching charitable aims and independence of the foundation and are experienced in advising on the on-going management of this relationship.  We understand the practicalities and the priorities and can help every step of the way.

We advise numerous foundations that have been set up by blue chip corporates including Asda, Vodafone, Goldman Sachs, Diageo, Nike and Estée Lauder.  We can draw on our unrivalled charity expertise to advise on all the issues you might encounter in carrying out your charitable work from governance issues, drafting and negotiating your grant and sub-grant agreements to making social investments.

Donor advised funds

Establishing a donor advised fund can throw up a host of complex charity law issues. Our team has seen them all. We’ve set up a wide range of funds, helping clients to meet regulatory obligations while fulfilling donors’ philanthropic ambitions. Our advice is always practical and commercial – and we can provide specialist insights on social and impact investing opportunities.

If you need advice on any issues relating to philanthropy, we're here to help. Just contact Laura Soley or Clarissa Lyons.