Corporate & Foundation Relations

Gifts and sponsored programs: definitions


A gift is the voluntary contribution of external support to the University of Washington, without any expectation of economic or other tangible benefit in return beyond what any member of the general public would receive. The primary beneficiary of a gift is the general public and not the donor. Gifts are accepted and processed by Gift Services, University Advancement.

Sponsored programs (grants and contracts)

A sponsored program is a mutual exchange involving the University and an external organization. Sponsored programs are not a purchase or sale of goods or services or “work for hire” arrangements. Sponsors may provide funding, equipment or other tangible items, such as goods or services, for research, training, education programs, analytical services or other rights or goods.

The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) uses the term “sponsored program” to refer to grants and contracts. All sponsored programs require completion of an eGC1 in order to process the proposal and subsequent award.

GIM 34 describes the criteria used to classify an award as a sponsored program. And OSP has a glossary of terms related to sponsored programs.

The difference between a grant and a contract

In general, sponsored programs for the benefit of the sponsor are classified by OSP as contracts. With few exceptions, clinical trials are classified as contracts. Awards made under a master agreement between the University and a company are always classified as contracts.

Some indications that an award is a contract include, but aren’t limited to:

  • The sponsor retains intellectual property.
  • The sponsor requests specific deliverables for exclusive use by the sponsors.
  • The sponsor restricts publication.

Because they are not considered philanthropic, contracts are not included in unit totals in the monthly Summary of Philanthropic Support (SPS).

Who determines if funding is processed as a gift, a grant or a contract?

University Advancement created an intranet page where you will find job aids to help you distinguish between a gift and a sponsored program; including definitions, a worksheet, an FAQ page and links to other resources. Please refer to these job aids as a starting point for making these determinations.

GIM 34 affects how an award is processed and whether it is considered a gift, grant or contract. The distinction may not be black and white. OSP, Donor Services and Corporate & Foundation Relations review award agreements and submitted proposals to determine classification. In cases where an award is determined to be a sponsored program but an eGC1 was not completed prior to submission, the eGC1 must be completed before funding can be accepted. GIM 34 also outlines the levels of review in making gift/grant determinations.

GIM 34 does not describe the policies and processes related to other types of funding to the University, such as service or recharge center revenue, program income or departmental revenue from the sale of goods and services.

The fact that a funder refers to an award as a grant does not make it a grant. And the philanthropic intent of the funder or an assumption made by the fundraiser does not make an award a gift. The classification can only be made upon review of the proposal and subsequent award agreement.

Just because the award is made to the UW Foundation does not make it a gift. The UW Foundation can accept both gifts and sponsored programs (grants only).

Just because an award does not include indirect costs does not make it a gift. The University will waive payment of indirect costs for foundations that have a stated indirect cost policy that is lower than our federally approved rate.

Learn more
Private Gift and Grant Acceptance | UA Intranet
GIM 34: Classification of External Support
GIM 13: Facilities and Administrative Rates (for sponsored programs)
The Office of Sponsored Program’s glossary