Corporate foundations - a structure for impact

Aiming to do good in the world is one thing. Driving and delivering tangible impact for society and your business is another. Corporate foundations provide a structure through which companies can positively address pressing social and environmental issues in a way that creates maximum value for society and their business.

We help businesses to realise ever greater impact through their corporate giving. Our strategic expertise, established governance and giving infrastructure means we can flexibly support your corporate foundation to inspire your stakeholders, materialise your purpose and drive measurable positive impact in communities across the UK and internationally.

Talk to us about a corporate foundation

What is a corporate foundation? 

A corporate foundation can be structured by businesses in varying ways, it can be: 

  • An independent entity registered through the Charity Commission
  • An integrated foundation structured through a donor advised fund (DAF) provider such as CAF
  • A community engagement or corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme funded through a company’s own funds

    There is no legal definition of a corporate foundation, nor is there a one size fits all model for setting one up. The strategic approach and the optimum structure for your corporate foundation will depend on your business’ ambition, resources, requirements and the scale at which you intend to operate, be that community, national or international. 

    What all corporate foundations have in common is the intention to maximise impact for society and business.
What does best practice look like? Read our article

Why set up a corporate foundation? 

Corporate foundations set out a clear intent and consistent long-term commitment for delivering positive impact in a specific cause area or areas. Corporate foundations can:

  • Provide a framework for structured, strategic, corporate giving
  • Create clear, accessible governance structures
  • Help embed social purpose within an organisation, authentically reinforcing a company’s values in the eyes of their employees, customers, partners and prospects
  • Provide a focus and direction through which to create shared value for society and your business, and grow brand awareness and engagement
  • Create a pathway to engage with the voluntary sector and deliver impact through valuable charity partnerships

How to build a business case? Read our article
  • Video transcript
    The reason businesses look to set-up corporate foundation can vary. It can be from a stakeholder within the group, for example the board or a CEO, it can be because they are levelling up with the rest of the competition or that it’s just the right thing that they [businesses] should be doing and haven’t done yet. 

    The core principles we see behind setting up a foundation are that it provides focus for their programmes, it enables a company to connect to their employees and their customers and it can also provide a level of authenticity against their business. 

    We really think it’s important for corporates to think about why they are setting up a foundation in the first place and that can be through working with us and our advisory teams to think through 'who are your important stakeholders?', 'how can you make the best impact with your foundation?'. 

Deliver positive change through a corporate foundation

Our expert corporate team can support you at every stage of your foundation journey.

Whether you are seeking to clarify your purpose, deliberating on set-up structures, impact frameworks, engaging your stakeholders, building a business case or seeking support with an established foundation, please get in touch. We're here to help.

Get in touch
  • Video transcript
    Businesses come to CAF at different stages of their foundation journey. It might be right at the beginning when they’re starting it up and we can help them through providing strategic advice and support, helping them engage their stakeholders, look at what their governance structures looks like or even the purpose. And alongside we can provide the giving infrastructure as well. 

    Secondly, we might work with them to look at how they are rethinking the foundation they’ve already got in place, whether that’s a registered entity or another vehicle. They might be rethinking the purpose of their foundation and that can be from decommissioning an existing structure or looking at how their purpose works in the future and revisiting that. We can help from both providing strategic advice or provide the infrastructure to decommission into. 

    So whatever stage you’re at in your foundation journey, please get in touch with us because we can help with both the giving infrastructure and the strategy and advice. 

How we can support with:

Strategic advice and support


Giving infrastructure and governance


Strategic advice and support

Our impact advisory service acts as an independent critical friend for your business. We can help to you articulate the purpose of your corporate foundation, and develop a clear proposition and pathway to achieve maximum value. 

We regularly support our clients with: 

  • Developing and refining their ambitions
  • Benchmarking and bespoke research
  • Identifying the right charitable partners
  • Creating measurement frameworks for impact reporting  
  • Improving stakeholder engagement, including collaborative and co-creative approaches 
  •  Design and delivery of grantmaking to bring your purpose to life 

Giving infrastructure and governance

Our varied, cost- and tax-efficient giving infrastructure helps businesses set up and manage their corporate foundations.  

The flexibility afforded by our donor advised fund, the CAF Company Account, our Staff Charity Fund and Community Engagement Fund means we can work with you to help you build a corporate foundation that suits your bespoke needs. 

As a charity ourselves, our clients benefit from our strong established governance and due diligence. Our charity verification service ensures your donations reach legitimate charities in the UK and around the world.    

Enabling critical thinking  

Achieving impact starts with asking yourself key questions and making choices.

Critically questioning the impact you are seeking to achieve with your corporate foundation is vital to ensuring the conditions for a successful and sustainable foundation.


What positive change will your corporate foundation make and what social return are you expecting?

Why is a corporate foundation important to your business' strategy and purpose?

How will you demonstrate the impact of your foundation and engage your internal and external stakeholders?

Our collaborative approach helps drive critical thinking, giving you the capability to engage your stakeholders, reinforce your business purpose, and help your company to accelerate positive societal impact.
Get in touch

Supporting agile and ambitious corporate foundations 

Our flexibility, governance and cost enable companies to realise their ambitions for their corporate foundations.

 “We’ve positioned our corporate giving and our drive to net zero as being good for business. Our customers and prospects are increasingly asking us what we’re giving back to society. Thanks to our journey with CAF, we can now make that messaging succinct. We’re committing 2% of our profits to help improve the digital capabilities of those in need in the UK. To have that substantiated, particularly the way we’ve done it with CAF, has got real business benefits,”

- David Stonehouse, Technology Services Group, Executive Chairman

Learn how we supported TSG
  • Video transcript
    Businesses choose to partner with Charities Aid Foundation for three main reasons. Flexibility, governance and cost. Firstly, is that they want a corporate foundation that can adapt and evolve with their business and respond quickly to social change. Our giving infrastructure allows companies to build the foundation that suits them and to develop and grow the purpose of the foundation in an intentional way and on a timescale that suits them. 

    Secondly, companies can rely on CAF’s well established governance. CAF undertakes the required due diligence on UK and overseas charitable organisations and manages the disbursement of funds on behalf of the business, ultimately de-risking the process for their business. Buy operation their foundation through CAF’s registered charity status, our clients are then able to keep their foundation integrated within the business and govern their foundation internally in a way that suits them. 

    Thirdly, businesses come to us when they want to set-up their foundation in a short timeframe and want to ensure the running of the foundation is cost-effective so that they can maximise the funds going to charity. By coming through us, they are able to save on legal fees, invest in their strategies to ensure their programmes have a high impact, whilst engaging with employees and building strong relationships with their charity partners. 
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Corporate foundations

You have the ambition. We provide the expertise and infrastructure to enable impactful giving.

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