Image of Simon Phelps

“The world’s wealthiest families are together using large proportions of their wealth to help others. We ensure their donations are focused and effective.” Simon Phelps, Partner - Private Client

Philanthropy: Charities & Charitable Giving

Our clients tell us that using wealth they have created to help others is one of the most rewarding things they do. However, wishes may not be executed and wealth can be wasted if appropriate structures are not put in place.

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner is expert at helping donors, founders, charities and trustees. We have helped establish, or otherwise acted for, charities with capital assets running to several US$bn/£bn - which are funding charitable causes in more than 20 countries with donations of more than US$650m/£500m a year. Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner partners sit on the board of over 100 charities.

Specifically, we provide practical and commercial advice on all legal issues affecting philanthropists and charities, including matters such as:

  • Charitable structures - including family controlled philanthropic vehicles
  • Tax efficient charitable giving
  • Advice on investments that produce a social as well as a financial return
  • Shari’a compliant structures
  • Charities - investment and trading issues: fundraising ventures, licensing arrangements, intellectual property and commercial transactions; governance; regulation and compliance; dual qualified charitable structures; trustee risks and responsibilities

Case studies

  • Charity image

    A charitable foundation to meet a family’s obligations on zakat and sadaqah

    We helped a Muslim family set up a charitable foundation in conjunction with their family business governance structure. This enabled each family member to comply with Shari’a rules.

    We worked with the family to put in place arrangements that work within Shari’a, rather than around it.

  • Charity image

    Restructuring to deliver the most practical and tax-efficient model

    Our client was a charity that runs a religious community centre and arts venue in north London. We advised on a restructuring that allowed it to find a tax-efficient and practical way to manage its many projects – from a residential property development, to trading-subsidiary and charitable activities on its 35,000 square foot site.

  • Charity image

    Charitable foundations need clear governance

    Our client wanted to set aside a portion of his wealth, on behalf of his family, for charitable purposes. We set up a charitable foundation and put a governance paper in place to make sure his objectives – for the charity and the funds – were clear.

    He appointed his children to the board to help them understand financial responsibility and they now control most of the family donations.

  • Charity image

    Charities investing in the family company

    A substantial family charity held an interest in the family business. This led to potential risks and conflicts, as trustees need to act independently, and consider the need to diversify.

    We advised on a conflicts policy, and a procedure for the trustees to take independent investment-advice on key commercial decisions, particularly those relating to their shareholding in the family business.

"The lawyers have great empathy, which is a key factor."

Chambers UK 2016 – Charities

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