Gift or sponsored project determinations

The following steps should be taken when determining if a funding opportunity or award is a gift or sponsored project. This process mirrors the KU policy to assist PIs in determining whether a source of external support should be treated as a sponsored project (processed through the KU Office of Research) or a gift (processed through KU Endowment).

Decision-makers will collaborate with each other, resulting in an objective determination.

The chair or director of the department/center/institute makes an initial determination at the pre-award stage based on evaluation of the funding opportunity, using the gift or sponsored project characteristics chart (below). All initial determinations are subject to review and approval by KU Endowment and the KU Office of Research.

If a department/center/institute cannot determine if a funding opportunity is a gift or a sponsored project, the KU Research Pre-Award unit should be consulted. The Pre-Award unit will confer and provide a written decision. Decisions are subject to change.

In cases where it is more difficult to make a determination, the KU Research and KU Endowment Corporate & Foundation Development teams will review the information jointly and make a decision. The Pre-Award unit will provide written documentation of the resolution to all parties.

In cases that are particularly difficult to resolve, the Vice Chancellor for Research and the Senior Vice President of Administration at KU Endowment will review the information jointly and make a decision. The Pre-Award team will provide written documentation of the agreed-upon resolution to all parties.

Certain terms or conditions automatically require review by KU Research:

  • Work involving research risk factors, such as IRB, IACUC, COI, export controls, environmental safety and/or restricted research elements (required delay of publication; indefinite or permanent delay of publication; limits on access by foreign students, scholars, faculty or staff; restrictions on access to campus facilities in ways that disrupt the overall research and teaching activities of the university; may have primarily harmful consequences for human beings).
  • Subawarding work to another institution or entity
  • Financial audit

All factors must be assessed in the determination of a gift or sponsored project, as a single factor most often will not be determinative. Proposed in-kind gifts (such as equipment, facility usage and personnel) will be handled in accord with KU's Guidelines for Acceptance of In-Kind Gifts policy.

Gift or sponsored project characteristics


Gift or sponsored project characteristics
Funding opportunity characteristicSponsored projectGift
Project requires compliance review (e.g. IRB, IACUC, COI, etc.)X 
Submission requirementsSponsored projectGift
May involve funder-defined scope of workX 
Limited numbers of submissions permittedX 
Proposal submitted in response to an RFPXX
Faculty-defined scope of workXX
Source of fundsSponsored projectGift
Funding provided by governmental agencyX 
Funding provided by private (for-profit or nonprofit) entityXX
Funding provided by an individual X
Funder remains anonymous X
Funder's intentSponsored projectGift
Deliverables due to sponsorX 
Charitable purposeXX
Funding a professorship or endowment X
Award terms & conditionsSponsored projectGift
Use of funds governed by funder guidelines/policiesXX
Funds are revocableX 
Funds are irrevocable (unless gift conditions are unmet, unspent funds may need to be returned) X
Specific period of performanceXX
No specific period of performance X
Prior approval required for budget, scope and/or date changesXX
Facilities & administrative (indirect) costsX 
Actual cost reimbursementX 
Fixed fee or milestone-based reimbursementX 
Funder may audit expensesX 
Funder may terminate unilaterallyX 
University may terminate unilaterallyXX
Funder may request project recordsXX
Funds are restricted X
Detailed financial and progress reportingX 
High-level financial and summary progress reporting (no detailed financials) X
No financial or progress reporting X
Must return unexpended funds (if agreement is cost-reimbursable) XX
May negotiate re-allocation of unexpended fundsXX
Anticipated outcomes generated from use of fundsSponsored projectGift
Sponsor receives tangible benefits (i.e., projects, services)X 
Public benefitsXX
IP owned by funderX 
IP owned by universityXX
Possible publication restrictions or required pre-publication reviewX 
Publication encouragedXX