University of Vermont

Sponsored Project Administration - SPA

217 Waterman Building . 85 South Prospect Street . Burlington, Vermont 05405 . (802) 656-3360

Characteristics of Sponsored Projects and Gifts

The University of Vermont and University of Vermont Foundation - Characteristics of sponsored projects and gifts.  

UVM receives funding in support of research, service, and instructional projects from numerous funders, typically in the form of a sponsored project or a gift. Both sponsored projects and gift-funded activities are externally-supported, with funds typically provided in response to a request or proposal. There are a number of characteristics of a sponsored project and a gift that are similar in nature, including the presence of F&A or indirect costs or use of human subjects, vertebrate animals, or biohazardous materials.

The funding term or description used by the organization providing the funding is not necessarily indicative of the true nature of the mechanism; sometimes sponsored projects are termed gifts and sometimes gifts are termed grants by the various funders. Classifying the funding as either a sponsored project or a gift will impact a number of things, including how UVM accounts for the funding, calculates and applies F&A (indirect) costs, and reports on the use of the funds to the sponsor or donor.

Sponsored Projects

A sponsored project is either a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement, with a formal written agreement between UVM and the sponsor. Sponsored funding may be from a Federal, State, or local government, non-profit organizations, and any number of commercial, industrial, or private entities.  Sponsored Project Administration assists with proposal development, proposal submission, award closeout, and sponsored project compliance activities and manages the award acceptance, financial reporting, billing, and invoicing activities associated with sponsored projects.

Characteristics of a Sponsored Project

Note that the funding need not meet all of the below criteria to be considered a sponsored project.

  1. Statement of work

  2. Detailed financial accountability

    1. Project plan with a line-item budget, including budgetary restrictions at the line item level;

    2. Specified period of performance;

    3. Cost reimbursable accounting, with the requirement to return any unspent funds at the end of the period of performance;

    4. Detailed financial reporting;

    5. Accountability under the terms of the Uniform Guidance

    6. Effort reporting requirement.

  3. Regulatory compliance requirements, including:

    1. Export Controls

    2. Conflicts of Interest

  4. Restrictive provisions related to intellectual property rights or publications


A gift is an item of value given to the University by a donor or donor organization, which expects recognition and disposition of the gift in accordance with the donor’s wishes. A gift may be accompanied by an agreement that restricts funds to a particular purpose but does not impose other contractual requirements beyond proper stewardship. The University of Vermont Foundation is responsible for processing gifts, which are eligible for charitable tax deduction and may have restrictions that are typically general in nature.

Characteristics of a Gift

Note that the funding need not meet all of the below criteria to be considered a gift.

  1. Charitable tax deduction, including events marketed as “Proceeds to Benefit _________ ."

  2. Typically does not require “deliverables” to the donor, for example, no rights to tangible or intellectual property.

  3. Typically does not contain a specified period of performance.

  4. May require a financial report but typically does not require formal fiscal accountability beyond periodic progress reports and summary reports of expenditures.

  5. Does not require cost reimbursable accounting.

The following characteristics or provisions have no bearing on determining whether funding is a sponsored project or a gift:

  1. Presence of a timeline defined and controlled by the University or Foundation.

  2. Presence of a budget defined and controlled by the University or Foundation.

  3. Presence or absence of F&A costs or gift fees defined by the University or Foundation.

  4. Competitive award process.

Please contact Sponsored Project Administration (SPA) at 656-3360 to review transactions that may be either a sponsored project or a gift. SPA will collaborate with the UVM Foundation as needed.

Last modified April 20 2017 04:29 PM

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