A Foundation is a structure that is generally used in similar circumstances to traditional family trusts but is familiar to clients and intermediaries with a civil law background. Foundations, unlike trusts, are legal entities and must be registered in Gibraltar. The founder provides the initial assets – known as the endowment – which are then held for the purposes set out in its constitutive documents and administered according to contractual rather than fiduciary principles.
A Foundation is run by a council (or board) that is responsible for fulfilling its purpose. At least one councilor must be a Gibraltar resident company that is licensed as a professional trustee in Gibraltar. A foundation has no shareholders and, depending upon its purpose, may or not have beneficiaries. Beneficiaries have contractual rights to enforce the operation of the foundation in accordance with its constitutive document.
A Foundation may be set up for any purpose that is capable of fulfillment and is not unlawful, immoral or contrary to the public policy of Gibraltar. Many private foundations are set up for charitable or philanthropic purposes. They are highly diverse and can vary greatly in their size, in the contributions they make or the causes they support.