Whatever the motivation, charitable giving and philanthropy is growing.

Giving is also more visible, evidenced by ongoing support from the wider population through public fundraising campaigns such as Children in Need and Sport Relief, or by wealthier individuals where their philanthropy is increasingly recognised through awards such as the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy. The most celebrated award in global philanthropy, the Medal is given biannually and is designed to honour Andrew Carnegie and is often referred to as the 'Nobel Prize of Philanthropy', recognising those who use their private wealth and business acumen for public good.

A man of many memorable quotes, on the issue of philanthropy Carnegie could not have been clearer:"A man who dies rich, dies in disgrace". This philosophy has been adopted in the Giving Pledge, a campaign encouraging the world's wealthiest people to commit to give away most of their wealth to philanthropic causes. The campaign specifically focuses on billionaires and was made public in 2010 by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

While the billionaires signing up to the Giving Pledge attracts the headlines, philanthropy is open to everyone and many people look for guidance on where to start. Individual giving has been made much easier in recent years through increased use of charity accounts and websites such as JustGiving and Virginmoneygiving.

For wealthy families or individuals, giving can either be through individual gifts or by setting up private foundations. Individuals tend to give smaller numbers of gifts of higher value, often large one-off gifts to endow foundations, whereas the resulting foundations frequently disburse more grants of lesser financial value over an extended time period, often driven by a desire to support the causes where smaller grants can make the biggest impact.

Where the scale and time horizons of philanthropy become significant many families now establish foundations and endowments, offering a more strategic way to manage philanthropy and setting clear objectives and purposes for the family's giving programme. With donors increasingly becoming actively and enthusiastically involved in their philanthropy, a foundation offers a structure for the organisation of giving and channeling of passions.

There are also many well established grant-giving charitable trusts of all sizes that continue to provide a key funding role through distributing grants to many charitable causes, yet have to navigate the challenge of keeping overheads and costs within acceptable limits while maintaining efficiency so as to maximise the amount they can give away.

Only very large foundations may be able to support a professional staff, since the cost and liability of maintaining a separate charitable foundation office can be disproportionately high.

In many cases for smaller grant-giving trusts or private family foundations a charity office service – such as Turcan Connell Charity Office – providing a 'virtual' office for charities, free from the overhead burden and risk of operating dedicated premises and staff may be appropriate. Turcan Connell Charity Office offers accounting, administration and taxation services as well as detailed legal advice on all the day to day matters which may arise in the running of a charity. It also offers assistance in developing grant-making policy, the administration of grants and the processing of applications, liaison with regulators, dedicated investment services tailored to the charity's own particular needs and the provision of meeting facilities for the trustees.

Turcan Connell Charity Office is particularly appropriate for grant-making trusts and foundations and is designed to ensure that the trustees, often the original donors and their family members, perform their legal and regulatory duties in line with the principles of good governance while allowing them to focus on achieving their charitable aims and objectives.

Turcan Connell Charity Office can also help grant-makers to programme giving in a slick, professional and well regulated manner. It can be invaluable in promoting giving, ensuring the continuation of Carnegie's great philanthropic vision.

Gavin McEwan is a Partner and deputy head of Turcan Connell's Charities Legal Team; Richard Hyder is Turcan Connell Asset Management's Head of Charity Investment.

If you would like more information on Turcan Connell Charity Office please contact Gavin McEwan or Richard Hyder on 0131 228 8111.