Charities and social enterprise

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We help charities achieve their goals and thrive in a commercial world

We act for over 250 charities including the UK’s largest charities by assets and turnover, and high profile names such as RSPB and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Balancing your commercial and charitable goals

Unlike the traditional firms that focus solely on charities, our experts are part of a full service firm with broad experience across the commercial sector and international markets. At the same time as delivering your commercial goals, we can help you run an ethical organisation, manage your reputation and ultimately achieve a public good.

Aligned strengths mean smarter advice

Mills & Reeve is a national leader in healthcare, education and research. This combined expertise means we offer pragmatic commercial solutions that will work in the sector you work in.

Other strengths within our charity team include conservation, cultural institutions and learned/membership societies.

How we help – some recent work highlights

  • A royal charter society’s international acquisition of a research technology tool, including maintaining charitable status, completing the deal, managing IP rights and workforce issues
  • Producing a full set of key contracts for a global conservation charity to facilitate scientific, computing, data and research collaborations
  • The British Council’s the £800m Erasmus+ contract, delivered in partnership with another provider and managed by BIS
  • The University of Manchester’s £300 million public bond issue, including the development of novel structures to enable institutions to access the bonds market for smaller funds, and use bonds as a tool for alumni engagement and fundraising
  • An arts charity’s innovative grants system designed to support delivery of a national education programme, with issues around contracts, procurement, staff transfer and IP ownership
  • A health charity’s procurement and delivery of a multimillion contract for a government department, pursuant to a major departmental strategy
  • New structures to allow £200m investments into the UK while preserving favourable tax status of a consortium of USA education bodies

Our charities sector clients

Our clients include:

  • The British Council and the Wellcome Trust – the largest UK charities by turnover and assets 
  • Macmillan Cancer Support and other high profile names in health 
  • Over 120 universities, colleges, schools and academy sponsors 
  • Museums, libraries, arts bodies and heritage organisations 
  • Environmental and conservation trusts

What our clients and others say about us

  • Chambers UK ranks us in the top tier for charity law, noting our “highly-reputed charity law expertise with strong commercial law capabilities“. 
  • Legal 500 also ranks us highly, praising our “helpful and knowledgeable” experts. 
  • Clients praise our "extraordinarily helpful, extremely prompt service … [the team] assists on the law and also on the strategy”.

Legal resources you may find useful

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Charities and the third sector
Charities and the third sector