Treatment of Gifts and Sponsored Projects at UO

Guiding Principles 

There are situations when it can be unclear as to whether incoming funding is a sponsored project that should run through SPS or is a gift that would be managed by the UO Foundation. This guidance is intended to help with those determinations and ensure we: (1) focus on the sponsor's overall intent for the funding, (2) ensure that administrative burden is limited in transactions, and (3) keep funds unrestricted when possible in order to maximize their use. This guidance is provided to navigate the differences between these types of funding arrangements and facilitate a decision in uncertain situations.


  • Contract: A contract is a type of sponsored project that is issued by a sponsor for the acquisition of goods or services from the recipient. A contract is usually either cost reimbursable or fixed-price.
  • Cooperative Agreement: A cooperative agreement is a type of sponsored project that involves substantial involvement and participation in the scope of work by both the sponsor and the recipient to carry out a public purpose.
  • Deliverable: A tangible outcome, product, or service that is required to be delivered to the sponsor as part of the terms and conditions of a sponsored project.
  • Donor: A donor is the contributor of a gift to the university.
  • Gift: A gift is a contribution received by the university (usually through the UO Foundation) to further the mission of the institution. Funds are usually for restricted uses but can sometimes be unrestricted by the donor. The university makes no commitment of resources or services, other than to use the gift as the donor specifies. The contribution is a nonreciprocal transfer in that there is no implicit or explicit statement of exchange, purchase of services, or provision of exclusive information.
  • Grant: A grant is a type of sponsored project used to conduct research or other program that carries out a public purpose.
  • Product: A product is a result produced from a sponsored project, e.g., a publication, piece of intellectual property, etc.
  • Report: A report is a technical or financial update that is required by a sponsor as part of the terms and conditions of a sponsored project. Reports can be required during the project (e.g., quarterly, annually), in addition to at the end of a project (a final report).
  • Sponsor: A sponsor is the entity that funds a sponsored project (i.e., a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement). Sponsors can be federal agencies, state entities, other institutions of higher education, local government, non-profit organizations, or industry partners.
  • Sponsored Project: A sponsored project is a grant, contract, cooperative agreement, or other arrangement formalizing the transfer of money or property from a sponsor to the university with the intent to either carry out a public purpose or provide a direct benefit to the sponsor. Sponsored projects are managed by SPS. A sponsored project generally may have one or more of the following characteristics:
    • Return of unexpended funds to the sponsor.
    • Restrictions on data use imposed by the sponsor.
    • The right of the sponsor to audit the project, program, lab or related documentation such as financial data or lab notebooks.
    • Ownership of data or intellectual property resulting from project/program vesting with UO, with an option to license to the sponsor.
    • Preferential sharing of the project/program results or resulting research resources with the sponsor.
    • A penalty for non-performance.

Funding Matrix

Category Gift Sponsored Project (Grant) Sponsored Project (Contract)
Intellectual Property Terms None (UO owns) UO owns, with license option to sponsor. UO owns, with license option to sponsor.
Publication Terms None (UO retains full publication rights). Donor may request acknowledgment of support. UO retains full publication rights. Sponsor may request acknowledgment of support and advance copies of publications. UO retains full publication rights. Sponsor may request acknowledgment of support and advance copies of publications.
Scope of Work None. If a research project, considered "Departmental Research" under Uniform Guidance, Appendix III. Defined by PI in proposal Detailed scope of work defined by the PI and/or the sponsor
Budget Usually none Detailed budget and justification Detailed budget, or bottom line budget if fixed price, with budget justification
Maximum Deliverables Acknowledgment and Stewardship Report Detailed technical reports and financial reports Detailed technical reports, financial reports, and other deliverables as required
Typical Payment Mechanism Advance payment Usually cost-reimbursable Cost-reimbursable or fixed price
Documentation Letter from Donor identifying funding as gift or charitable contribution Award agreement stipulating payment, reporting, and other terms and conditions Formal contract stipulating payment, reporting, IP rights, confidentiality, and liability terms
Unexpended Funds Retained Returned to sponsor, carried forward (with approval), or reprogrammed (with approval) Retained, if fixed cost agreement
F&A Costs None Full F&A, except where limited by the sponsor Full F&A, except where limited by the sponsor

General Criteria

The answers to the following questions will help guide determining whether an externally-funded activity is a gift or a sponsored project.

  1. Is the funding source a governmental entity (federal, state, or local)? If yes, then that funding is treated as a sponsored project and is administered by Sponsored Projects Services. If no, go to number 2.
  2. Is the funding source other than a governmental entity, but has characteristics of a sponsored project as defined above? If yes, then the proposal and/or agreement and payment will be processed and managed by Sponsored Projects Services. If no, then the funding is likely a gift and will be processed and managed through the UO Foundation.
  3. If you are unsure, a SmartSheet form (embedded below) has been developed to assist with making these determinations. It should be filled out as soon as possible in the submission process by a department that is receiving funding where the award mechanism is unclear. SPS and UO Foundation Relations staff will review these submissions on a case-by-case basis to make the final determination. If you have any questions, please email