Sector

Charities & not-for-profit

Practical legal advice with heart

Like any other organisation, charities, not-for-profits and social enterprises need to achieve their purposes while ensuring financial sustainability. To do their valuable work these organisations must navigate an evolving regulatory, operational and governance landscape and manage funding pressures.

We help small and large charities, community trusts, clubs and societies and social enterprises find their way through this challenging landscape. 

Our multi-disciplinary team understands the nuanced requirements of these organisations, including in the key areas of establishment and restructuring, governance, compliance and tax concessions.  

Advice based on experience, and with a creative lens:

  • providing structuring advice for those wanting to establish, or expand/diversify existing, charities, not for profits and social enterprises, including through the use of trusts, incorporated societies, companies and limited partnerships and any subsidiaries
  • advising on mergers/amalgamations of existing
  • providing tax advice and wraparound services for complex scenarios, including offshore charities operating in New Zealand, establishing new organisations or branches, or New Zealand charities benefitting offshore purposes
  • establishing community housing providers and their contractual infrastructure
  • risk analysis, minimisation, commercial and compliance support
  • advising on governance, including in relation to duties of trustees and board members
  • fundraising including government grants
  • legacies through wills including disputes
  • formulating appropriate structures for social or environmental businesses
  • creating stakeholder-owned purpose-embedded business structures.
Chapman Tripp’s support has been absolutely critical… essential work done by fantastic people that’s always been of the highest quality.James Gibson, Chief Executive, BLAKE
  • Advising Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) on its establishment and ongoing operations in New Zealand.
  • Ongoing operational support, with day to day business assistance, including advising on intellectual property, employment, constitutional changes, and providing secretarial support for the Board. We assist our corporate social responsibility partner BLAKE with these services.
  • Supporting Auckland City Mission in its fund raising and contractual needs for their life changing projects including the development and build of its new HomeGround facility.
  • Advised on embedding mission and purpose for social or environmental impact into traditional structures.  
  • Advised on the merger of two substantial golf clubs with significant land holdings and other mergers of non-profit organisations.
  • Documented philanthropic gifts from individuals to organisations for specific purposes or projects, including conditions, expectations and reporting. 
  • Advised many charitable and non-profit organisations in contractual or personal disputes.
  • Advised on constitutional change for charities, non-profits, iwi organisations and community trusts in the context of their varied legislative fabric.


Phillippa Wilkie recently co-wrote Purpose-driven structures for impact entrepreneurs in Aotearoa New Zealand: Considering Kaitiakitanga and Steward Ownership. Impact-driven entrepreneurs wanting to set up business in Aotearoa New Zealand have a range of legal structures to choose from, albeit a more narrow range than in other jurisdictions. This short white paper focuses on the available legal structures in New Zealand as well as indigenous concepts of Te Ao Māori (the Māori worldview) and approaches. It also charts some developments in thinking and legislation overseas on “steward ownership”.

Read the white paper here


The Structuring for Impact: Evolving Legal Structures for Business in New Zealand report for the Impact Initiative in 2019, was also co-written by Phillippa.