Charities + Social Sector

Gilbert + Tobin’s Charities + Social Sector group is a stand-out in the Australian market for its deep knowledge of, and experience in the laws and circumstances unique to charities, not-for-profits and social impact organisations.

Gilbert + Tobin is Australia’s only top tier law firm with a team dedicated to serving the charity, not-for-profit and social impact space.

Our Approach

We believe the charity, not-for-profit and social impact sectors play an essential and extremely valuable role in society. The lawyers in our Charities + Social Sector group are passionate about serving organisations and individuals with a connection to this sector and do so exclusively.

As one of Australia’s pre-eminent corporate law firms, we provide a full service legal offering, allowing our clients to benefit from our tier one, cross practice legal advice and specialisation in highly complex matters. Our clients are provided with the advice and guidance they need across all their activities and operations (not just those specific to charities and not-for-profits), which is a unique and powerful combination unparalleled in the market.

We understand running an organisation, trust or corporate foundation requires significant time, effort and commitment. We also recognise that each organisation is different, with their own unique circumstances. As a result, we strive to understand these differences to ensure our advice is practical, targeted and relevant. Our advice goes beyond the black letter of the law to help ensure our clients are protected legally, commercially and reputationally.

Our expertise includes:

  • Structuring and establishment: establishing new organisations and trusts, including advising on the most appropriate structure type, such as company limited by guarantee, incorporated association, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation, cooperative or trust.
  • Registering and working with regulators: registering organisations and working with regulators such as the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and state-based departments of fair trading (or equivalent).
  • Corporate governance and constitutions: assisting organisations and their officers with internal governance frameworks, helping ensure tax concessions at both the federal and state level (including they keep pace with changes in the law and best practice, writing, reviewing and updating constitutions and other governance documents, providing advice regarding running and calling director and member meetings, directors’ duties, voting procedures and protocols and reporting and providing corporate governance reviews and board charter solutions).
  • Mergers and acquisitions: advising on mergers and acquisitions, including group restructures and consolidations, sale and acquisition strategies, asset and business sales, purchases and transfers, share sales and member transfers and vendor and purchaser due diligence (including the establishment and operation of data rooms).
  • Accessing and complying with tax concessions: obtaining and complying with the requirements for deductible gift recipient (DGR) endorsement and access to other income tax exemption, fringe benefits tax concessions, capital gains, land tax and payroll tax relief, providing analysis of charity tax concessions, DGR and other tax issues from the initial review and application process, through to audits and ongoing compliance.
  • Fundraising, promotions, gaming, gifts and events: advising on charitable fundraising laws, licensing and regulation and the running of charitable fundraising activities and events (including liaising with relevant state regulators and the engagement of commercial fundraisers), advising on requirements regarding receipt of deductible gifts, contributions and other donations (including tax considerations) and advising on lotteries, art unions, raffles and related matters.
  • Working with others: advising on, negotiating, drafting and reviewing agreements such as joint venture and consortium agreements, memoranda of understanding and partner agreements (including devising ownership, reporting, management and operational structures).
  • Internal reviews, investigations and dispute resolution: conducting internal reviews and investigations, including advising on whistle-blower and related legislation, advising on how to manage legal disputes, providing representation from informal resolution and settlements to tribunal and court proceedings and preparation of all related documents.
  • Compliance in conducting overseas programs: ensuring organisational processes and practices align with, and mitigate risks associated with, Australian counter-terrorism financing, sanctions, anti-corruption, anti-bribery laws, ACNC External Conduct Standards and related obligations.
  • Commercial agreements: negotiating, drafting and reviewing those agreements that sit behind an organisation’s activities such as supply agreements and funding agreements (including tenders and government grant / funding agreements).
  • Schools: advising on the establishment, operation and consolidation of building funds, library funds, scholarship funds, necessitous circumstances funds and general advancement / endowment funds, and advising on the interrelationship between such entities within the broader context of school philanthropy and advising on proper use and application of school funds in compliance with legislative requirements.
  • Social enterprises: advising on establishing, funding and running social enterprises.
  • Intellectual property: advising on and helping with trade marks (including clearance checks, registration and protection), copyright, licencing and the transfer of IP.
  • Employment and volunteering: preparing, reviewing and advising on employment, consultancy and volunteer agreements, volunteer codes of practice, HR policies and procedures, performance management, employment disputes and, when required, representation at the Fair Work Commission or Court.

Wills and estates: advising on family provisions and similar laws and providing assessments of merits and prospects, advising on dispute resolution strategy and tactics, including attending mediations and representation in Court, reviewing, negotiation and amending deeds of settlement, providing general advice and guidance on wills and estates matters.

Our client base is large and diverse. It covers areas such as health, education, human rights, religion, overseas aid, welfare, environment, culture and the arts, sport, industry, public and private philanthropy and much more. We provide dedicated, specialist advice to charities, community organisations, religious institutions, education providers, social impact investors, corporate foundations and industry associations.

We are honoured to work with some of Australia’s most well-known organisations including The Fred Hollows Foundation, Cancer Council Australia, The Benevolent Society, Médecins Sans Frontières Australia, Parkinson’s NSW, Diversity Council Australia, Australian Institute of Company Directors, Amnesty International Australia, Opera Australia, Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation, Plan International Australia, Save the Children Australia, Screenwest and World Vision Australia.

Gilbert + Tobin's Charities + Social Sector Team is ranked Band 1 for Charities.

Chambers Asia-Pacific 2020

"Way ahead in its levels of commitment and its ability to understand the needs of charities".

CHAMBERS ASIA-PACIFIC