Guidance on Gift versus Grant

Grants to Dartmouth College: Sponsored Projects vs. Gifts

The following guide is intended to help you understand how external funding is routed and processed at Dartmouth College. External funds received by the College are handled by two areas - the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations and the Office of Sponsored Projects, sometimes separately and sometimes in coordination with each other.

General Definitions:

Sponsored project: An arrangement under which there is a transfer of funds, property, services or anything of value from the sponsor to the institution to assist the institution in reaching a particular institutional goal or public purpose. These include federal and some non-federal awards. Sponsored projects are administered by the Office of Sponsored Projects.

Gift: Funds or goods that are given voluntarily to the College with no reciprocal obligations. Funds should generally be classified as gifts when the intention is to make a charitable contribution and funds are awarded irrevocably. Gifts may be accompanied by an agreement that restricts the use of the funds to a particular purpose. Gifts are administered by the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations.

Final classification of external support is based on review of official award documentation.

Determining Grant Type: Characteristics to Consider

The term "grant" or "gift" in a sponsor document does not necessarily determine the classification of an award as a sponsored project or gift. The final determination will be made by representatives of either the Office of Sponsored Projects or the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations. Questions may be addressed to the contacts listed at the bottom of this document.

A sponsored project is a grant that involves an exchange of tangible or intangible property of value to the sponsor. An agreement/contract may include any of the following terms:

  • Sponsor Rights to Licensing and/or Intellectual Property: The Principal Investigator on a grant may be obligated to convey rights to tangible or intangible properties resulting from the project. Tangible properties include equipment, records, technical reports, theses, or dissertations. Intangible properties may include rights in data, copyrights, or inventions.
  • Funder's Mission and Intent: Funder seeks implementation of a specific research or educational plan. Request for proposals or proposal includes well-defined objectives, strategies, work plans and/or deliverables.
  • Legal Accountability: Indemnification, insurance, warranty or other legal accountability terms are included.
  • Government funding source: Funds originate from federal, state, local, foreign, or other government entity.

A gift is a grant that usually will not involve an exchange of tangible or intangible property or licensing of intellectual property. The funder receives no value or benefit from the gift and imposes few requirements, if any.

Other considerations may vary for either a sponsored projects or a gift.

  • Budgets for sponsored projects are specific, and variances from proposed budgets (within designated parameters) require funder pre-approval. Detailed budgets are often not required for gifts, although occasionally, such are required.
  • Detailed terms and conditions, and financial and narrative reports are usually required for sponsored projects while such detail is seldom the case for gifts, although brief, or even extensive reports may be required.
  • Binding agreements between the College and the funder are usually signed to obtain sponsored projects. Signatures are seldom required on gift documents.
  • Key personnel (or the equivalent of a project leadership team) are named in the proposal for a sponsored project and any changes must be pre-approved by the funder. Personnel are often left to the discretion of the College, school, department, or named individual in the case of gifts.

If you have any questions, please contact either of the following:

  • Associate Director, OSP at 646-3097
  • Director, CFR at 646-9177
Rev. 4 Dec 2012 Office of Sponsored Projects and Corporate and Foundation Relations