Gift vs. Sponsored Research Policy: Quick Reference Policy Summary

Purpose: This is meant to serve as a complementary table to the Policy on Distinguishing Gifts vs. Sponsored Awards and as a reference in the event of questions. The table highlights general characteristics of these two funding categories. In the event of questions, please contact Alumni and Development Services at or the Office for Sponsored Programs at

Table 1: Gift vs. Sponsored Award Summary
  Gift Sponsored Award
Benefit received by funder from activities funded

Serves philanthropic or personal interest of funder, but does not serve the primary business purpose of the funder

No benefit received

Serves the primary business or mission interest of the funder, whose basic activities are integrally related to the research plan

Benefit received

Specificity of intent of funder Funder seeks advances in a general area of research or education; or seeks advances in a specific area, but without prescribing specific strategies or workplans Funder seeks implementation of a specific research or education plan, with well‐defined objectives, strategies, workplans and/or deliverables
Value exchanged

Funder essentially receives no personal or institutional value in return for the funds given, other than intellectual satisfaction that the activities have been undertaken

No deliverables provided

Funder expects and receives implementation of, and a report of, the University’s funded activities; funder’s own mission and/or research agenda is advanced through the University’s funded activities

Deliverables provided

Scope of work More generally defined; typically no time frame or period of performance More specifically defined with a clear period of performance
Persons performing funded activities Often left to discretion of University, school, department or one named individual Key personnel (or the equivalent project leadership team) are named in proposal, and changes to key personnel must be pre‐approved by funder
Budget specificity and restrictions Budgeting is general in nature and terms, and funder pre‐approvals are not required as long as funds are used for the stated purpose Budgets are specific, and variances from proposed budgets (within designated parameters) require funder pre‐approval
Progress reports May be required but are most often general in nature and content Required, and must outline progress toward the specific research or project plan
Terms of funding Less detailed Often detailed, with standard, detailed terms and conditions for all funding from that sponsor
Accountability for use of funds More moral than legal More legal than moral
Ability of funder to recoup funds Generally very difficult to recoup, except in cases of deliberate, proven use of restricted funds inconsistent with terms of a restricted gift Established ability of funder to terminate the agreement and/or demand repayment of funds, if specific research or project plans have not been implemented
Method of documentation Letter of intent of funder in making award Binding (often signed) agreement between University and funder, binding University to implement specific research or project plans