Is it a gift or a sponsored project? New guidance on making the critical distinction

From: Simon Atkinson, Vice Chancellor for Research
Sent: Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, 9 a.m.
To: KU Lawrence faculty and academic staff; KU Lawrence grant coordinators

Dear Colleagues,
It’s clear that external funding is essential to supporting research, scholarship and creative activity at the University of Kansas. It helps our scholars travel to archives, field sites and specialized facilities; invest in state-of-the-art equipment; hire students, postdoctoral fellows and research staff; manage massive amounts of data, and so much more.
What can be less clear, however, is how to distinguish between various types of external funding. The terms grantscontracts and gifts are sometimes used interchangeably, but the intended use of the funds is critical in determining whether they should be accounted for as sponsored projects (processed through the KU Office of Research) or gifts (processed through KU Endowment).
Clarifying the distinctions is crucial because faculty and staff who secure and manage external funds must meet KU’s legal obligations and liabilities. Together, KU Research and KU Endowment have developed a gift or sponsored project characteristics matrix and a process for determining where funding opportunities fall within that matrix. The process mirrors the KU policy on differentiating between sponsored projects and gifts but adds a layer of review and decision-making.
Regardless of whether funds are classified as sponsored projects or gifts, approval(s) must be obtained from the appropriate compliance committee(s) if any of the funds will be used to support activities that involve human subjects, animal care and use, radiological hazards or biohazards. Approval(s) must be obtained prior to spending funds in support of such activities, per federal regulations.
We hope the new matrix adds clarity for recipients and managers of external funds. Please direct questions to
Simon Atkinson
Vice Chancellor for Research