UW Research

Select Funding Source


External and Internal Funding

Selecting a funding source involves finding a sponsor with goals that align with a given research project or finding an opportunity for which a PI or team would be eligible to pursue.

See the Funding Opportunities page for a list of external sponsor funding opportunity web pages, as well as funding opportunities internal to UW.

Distinguishing between a Sponsored Program, Gift, or Service Activity

Once a funding source is selected, accurate classification not only determines which office handles the funding, it also ensures appropriate management, compliance, and streamlines review and approval.


While most external support is clearly identifiable as either a sponsored program, gift, or service revenue, there are some cases where determining the nature of the funding requires more thoughtful consideration. For example, the term grant does not necessarily determine the classification of an award. Likewise, there may be times when a funder is philanthropic in nature, and yet a specific award may contain contractual terms and conditions that require its classification as a sponsored program.

Definitions, Indicators, and Resources

Sponsored Programs

A sponsored program is a transaction between the UW and the sponsor in which the sponsor supports a specific scope of work carried out by the UW for organized research, instruction, or other sponsored activity in exchange for something of value such as data, results, intellectual property rights, and/or technical reporting.

Sponsored programs typically include a scope of work and one or more of the following:

  • Budget information and payment terms tied to receipt of reports or other milestones
  • A requirement for regular technical reporting
  • Risk management, such as liability, indemnification, insurance or other contractual terms that establish acceptance of risk by the parties
  • Intellectual property (IP) is defined, and ownership and related rights are set out, consistent with GIM 40
  • Review more Sponsored Program Indicators

The Office of Sponsored Programs reviews and processes sponsored program proposals and awards. Sponsored Programs must be routed to OSP via an eGC1.


The contribution of external support to the University without any requirement for receipt of economic or other tangible benefit beyond what any member of the public would receive.
Gifts may be either unrestricted or restricted. An unrestricted gift may be used for any purpose or project. A restricted gift is for a particular purpose or project as stipulated by the donor.

In general, a gift has the following attributes:

  • Given for general activities such as endowments, capital projects, student financial support, or programmatic support
  • Irrevocable, provided the gift is used in accordance with any mutually agreed upon, valid restrictions
  • No donor-imposed time limits, though a general expectation of timing may be stated
  • The beneficiary of the supported endeavor is the general public, although the donor might receive de minimis benefits such as recognition and stewardship

Gifts cannot include:

  • Requirements for receipt of goods, services, or other deliverables
  • Pledge payments contingent on outcomes or reaching milestones
  • Detailed financial accountability (donors may request information about the impact of their support and a summary of expenditures)
  • Deliverables or benefits beyond that of reasonable recognition and stewardship (i.e., no quid pro quo)
  • Transfer of UW intellectual property, ownership, or related rights (In appropriate circumstances, the UW may agree to open-source software or intellectual property developed with gift funds.)
  • Insurance, indemnification, warranty or any other contractual term or condition that establishes financial or legal responsibilities and/or the acceptance of risk by the University
  • Restrictions on publication of research results
  • Requirement that if personnel working on the project leave or change, the funding is returned to the donor
  • Requirement that support be refunded if the project fails to meet performance requirements or project objectives

UW Advancement reviews and processes gifts for the University of Washington, the UW Foundation, and the UW’s affiliates and agencies. External support that is determined to be a gift must be processed through Gift Services.

Review UW Advancement’s information on: Distinguishing Between a Gift and a Sponsored Program.

NOTE: Research funded via Gift funding is subject to the same  regulatory and compliance requirements as a sponsored program. Review the Gift Funded Research: Compliance Checklist for more information.

Service Activity

Neither a gift nor a sponsored program, service revenue encompasses agreements where a unique, specific and limited function is performed at the procurement of another and for the benefit of or on behalf of a specific party, usually the other contracting party (customer).


Limited Submissions

Many federal agencies and foundations offer grants, awards, and fellowships that limit the number of applications that can come from one institution. In order to increase the chances of the UW succeeding in such “limited submission opportunity” applications, the Office of Research has established a procedure to review pre-proposals in a timely fashion. The Limited Submissions page lists those opportunities.