Advising clients

Using the Guide to Giving Framework

A great starting point if you would like to support your clients’ philanthropy, is to use the newly designed Guide to Giving Framework. This will help you guide clients of all types – those new to giving with little idea of where to start, those setting up their own foundation with clear objectives, or those who have been giving for generations and want a change in direction or deeper involvement.

Becoming familiar with the five-stage framework to better giving will be invaluable as you support your clients at any stage of their journey:

  • Setting objectives
  • Developing a strategy
  • Giving tax effectively
  • Selecting charities
  • Assessing impact.

Each stage of the framework highlights the relevant options available to clients depending on their needs, resources and objectives. A useful overview of each option is provided along with helpful resources to learn more –research reports, latest news and specialist advisors who you can contact for further advice. 

If you have clients who are just starting out, and want to explore their most suitable options, The Giving Navigator is here to help. Through a variety of filters that you can work though with your client (do they want to give time or money or both, do they already have a structure, do they know what cause to support etc), this tool takes you to the relevant page of the framework.

How to be a philanthropy advisor

Ceris Gardner, a partner at Maurice Turnor Gardner LLP, is one of the UK’s leading experts on tax, estate planning and family governance, and charity and philanthropy. We ask her what kind of support she provides her clients around their giving, and what benefits this brings to her practice.

We typically help clients who are looking to start their giving and want to set up a structure. However in the past few years, we have started doing much more than simply advising on and implementing  the most suitable structure for each client. We have more general discussions with the client about what causes they want to support, whether they want to be involved in their local community, what they want to achieve or how to involve their family. We have many clients, for instance, that want to give back to the country of their origin, often India or Africa, and help provide better educational opportunities.  Last year we researched our clients and asked them, if fiven £2m to spend on charitable causes what would they do. 63% of our respondents said that they would like to see exactly how their money is being spent by getting as involved as possible.  A substantial number (77%) said they would prefer to set up their own trust or foundation aligned with causes that they are passionate about.  This tallies with our experience of philanthropy at work.  At the same time, 68% of people said that they would prefer to be anonymous or very low profile, which we found quite surprising.  


We have learnt that clients often want guidance on how to distribute the funds within their structure and we are in a great position to refer them to specialist advisors who can help them choose effective charities, support their local communities or undertake bespoke research on the issue they care about. So we do so much more than talking through the technicalities of the most tax-efficient and suitable structure.


The benefits of providing philanthropy support is mainly the much closer relationship we build with each client when discussing issues they really care about. Clients are more likely to stay with our firm, refer others and come back to us for further support if they gain our trust and good advice around their giving.  Philanthropy really is an effective ‘relationship-builder’.


If I was giving advice to a lawyer with no prior experience in philanthropy who wanted to start supporting their clients’ giving, I would suggest that they take part in the wide range of events and activities that are available. For example, The Philanthropy Programme, a joint education initiative between Philanthropy Impact and STEP (Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners), offers a series of events covering the philanthropy spectrum from the advisors standpoint with good networking opportunities and Philanthropy Impact also offer a range of informative roundtables and seminars for advisors and charities in London, throughout the UK and in Europe. Both TPP and PI programmes are available to members and non-members and offer networking opportunities. STEP has Charity and Philanthropy Special Interest Groups which also offer informative talks and they run courses on providing philanthropy advice. The Institute of Philanthropy and NPC offer courses for philanthropists and the Charity Tax Group is another useful resource, providing specific tax information to charities of all sizes. I would also recommend practitioners read as widely on the subject as possible, and talk to those who are involved: I’ve found that people in the private client / philanthropy world are incredibly generous with their time!

Practical exercise

It can be helpful when providing advice on giving to clients to put yourself in their shoes. The following practical exercise is useful to help you think about the kinds of issues your clients may raise.

Pretend you are one of your clients, and assume you have been given £10m to set up a foundation. Using the guide to giving five-stage framework, ask yourself the following key questions:


  • What do you want to achieve with the foundation?
  • What causes do you care about? What would you like to change in the world?
  • Do you want to give your time and expertise as well as money?
  • Do you want to distribute all the funds within a specified time period or set up a permanent endowment?
  • Do you want to involve your family?
  • Would you consider social investment?
  • Do you want to pro-actively find charities to support or will you accept proposals?