Charitable Foundations

Ropes & Gray helps charitable foundations keep their focus on philanthropy, providing a comprehensive suite of services aimed at easing clients’ legal and compliance burdens at key milestones throughout a foundation’s life.


Whether you have just begun to explore the idea of establishing a charitable foundation or you are a seasoned foundation director contemplating a complicated global grant, Ropes & Gray’s charitable foundations team can help you assess your options, develop a strategy for moving ahead, and implement your plan in a way that keeps your philanthropic goals front and center.

Getting Started. If you are in the first stages of developing your philanthropic plan and wondering about establishing a charitable foundation, we can help you assess whether a foundation is the right vehicle for your family or whether there is a more effective alternative.

Governing with Confidence. If your foundation’s board of directors or trustees will be transitioning soon, is facing a difficult dilemma or wants to brush up on current best practices, we can help develop and implement procedures that will promote more effective governance.

Fulfilling Your Philanthropic Mission. If you already have a foundation but feel you aren’t doing as much with it as you would like to, we can help you take stock and create a plan to better realize the foundation’s potential.

Staying in Good Stead. If you’re concerned about a past practice or an upcoming decision, or simply want to understand best practices, we can help you review the issues, address any problems and move forward with your philanthropy knowing your foundation is in full compliance.  We’ll give your foundation a philanthropic “physical” to make sure it’s in the best possible shape.

Making Big Decisions. If your foundation is considering a major transaction—a new impact investment, a joint venture or a real estate deal, for example—we will leverage our multidisciplinary team to guide your foundation through the decision-making process.

Expanding Your Reach. If you want to take your philanthropy global, we can help you find the simplest path and successfully navigate the regulatory and due diligence challenges associated with foreign grantmaking.


Ropes & Gray’s charitable foundations practice is one of the largest in the nation. We actively represent more than 100 foundations of all sizes and at all stages of growth, from newly formed family foundations to well-established major national and international grant makers. Our charitable foundations practice complements our preeminent practice advising many of the nation’s leading colleges, universities, hospitals and other charitable institutions, as well as our longstanding practice counseling individuals and families on estate and charitable planning matters. Whether a foundation needs sophisticated tax advice, support on governance issues, or creative grantmaking strategies, the multidisciplinary Ropes & Gray charitable foundations team can provide the highest level of service.

Our top priority is to help clients achieve their philanthropic goals. That’s why we work closely with each client to tailor a customized set of services to meet the client’s needs. We have experience advising individuals and families on many different options for philanthropy, including donor-advised funds, supporting organizations, private operating foundations and traditional private foundations.