Social Impact


Miller Thomson’s Social Impact Group is the largest national team of lawyers in Canada dedicated to helping charities, non-profit organizations and social enterprises meet their legal needs and accelerate their social impact. Clients from philanthropic foundations to active charities to member-based associations depend on us to deliver strategies that propel them ahead of changing regulations, effectively address general legal issues, and design innovative structures that unlock sustainable new sources of revenue. The Social Impact Group offers unmatched experience and expertise across Canada’s voluntary sector and beyond. Our forward-looking advice helps clients anticipate and address all manner of legal issues and position themselves for long-term impact and success.

We offer services in both English and French and our clients range from national and international charities and non-profit organizations to social enterprises of all shapes and sizes. They include universities, colleges, schools, religious institutions and groups, hospitals, social agencies, environmental groups, member-benefit organizations, social clubs, trade and professional associations, and social housing organizations. Our lawyers have the voluntary sector expertise and front-line experience to help organizations achieve their mission.

The Social Impact Group offers clients a value-added approach catered to each organization’s needs. Whether advising on tax compliance strategies and structures for charities and non-profits operating across multiple jurisdictions, helping to secure and structure mission-related investments, or restructuring charities and non-profits to generate revenue from innovative sources, we have the specialized knowledge and experience needed to help organizations achieve a sustainable long-term advantage.

Nationally, we help our clients:

  • Incorporate in jurisdictions across Canada
  • Comply with annual corporate requirements – meetings, minutes, and filings
  • Consider and implement governance and by-law changes
  • Anticipate and resolve corporate governance issues and disputes
  • Plan and execute corporate integrations and restructurings
  • Protect against liabilities
  • Conduct internal compliance audits and advise on risk management
  • Obtain charitable status
  • Comply with Income Tax Act (Canada), Taxation Act (Quebec) as well as Canada Revenue Agency and Revenu Québec requirements
  • Understand provincial laws on investments, privacy and fundraising
  • Harmonize foreign and domestic operations of registered charities
  • Maximize the impact of fundraising and gift agreements
  • Engage in social enterprise and social finance
  • Create governance and operational policies dealing with issues such as investments, gift acceptance, and conflicts of interest
  • Address general legal matters, including real estate, employment, health law, charitable gaming, education law and intellectual property needs
  • Provide direct advocacy support on complex matters

Notable matters

Our national team has delivered value-added legal counsel in a variety of recent engagements, including:

  • Establishing new organizations and working with them through the startup phase
  • Advising small and large charities and not-for-profit organizations under Canada Revenue Agency audit
  • Merging chapters of national organizations into one entity
  • Advising social entrepreneurs on mixed purpose structures
  • Drafting agreements to structure collaborations between organizations
  • Establishing relations between Canadian charities and affiliated foreign charities
  • Advising advocacy organizations on political activity limits
  • Restructuring the governance of a long standing non-profit to meeting changing needs

Social Impact Newsletter

Read the latest issue of Miller Thomson’s Social Impact Newsletter


Legal Industry Reviews

Miller Thomson’s Robert Hayhoe and Stephen Hsia co-authored an article on “Canadian charities funding organizations abroad: New rules make it easier” in the February 2023 edition of the Legal Industry Reviews.


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