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Faculty receive extramural support for their research, training and public service projects through two principal mechanisms: sponsored projects and gifts. Extramural sponsors and donors provide these funds to the University, relying on the expertise of University personnel to properly classify them. Proper classification ensures good stewardship and maximizes the benefits that can accrue to both sponsor/donor and the University. The following guidelines should be followed in categorizing gifts and sponsored project funds.
A sponsored project may be thought of as a transaction in which there is a specified statement of work with a related, reciprocal transfer of something of value. A sponsored project may support University activities including but not limited to research, training, instruction, public service and construction. Any funding provided by U.S. government agencies, at the federal, state, or local level is treated as sponsored project funding. Funding from voluntary health organizations or associations, such as the American Heart Association or the American Cancer Society, is usually treated as a sponsored project.
In remaining cases, for example where funding is being provided by corporations, foundations or others not specified above, the distinction between gifts and sponsored projects will be made based on the proposal, statement of work, and terms of the agreement, taking into consideration the intent of the donor/sponsor. If the "intent" does not correspond with criteria for classification as a gift or grant, the terms of the agreement will have to be adjusted in order to avoid unintended classification.
Sponsored project proposals should be submitted to external sponsors via the Office for Sponsored Research (OSR), which serves as the authorized signatory authority for the University. Projects will be considered sponsored projects if any of the following criteria are met, regardless of whether the proposal was submitted through OSR:
Sponsored projects are subject to facilities and administrative costs (F&A) at the University's published rate applicable to the type of project being conducted. If the sponsor has a written policy, uniformly applied, prohibiting or restricting the payment of F&A to a lower rate, the University may permit the funds to be accepted in accordance with the sponsor's policy. This exception does not apply to for-profit sponsors, who are expected to provide full F&A when funding sponsored projects. The Office of the Vice President for Research is the final authority responsible for determining the acceptance of the F&A rate in all cases.
A gift is defined as any item of value given to the University by a donor who expects nothing significant of value in return, other than recognition and disposition of the gift in accordance with the donor's wishes. In general, the following characteristics describe a gift:
Gift solicitations should be coordinated with the appropriate development officer in each school, and the development office should be contacted for procedures applicable to gift solicitations. Gifts may be subject to a gift "assessment" or tax, as set by the recipient's area or school. This is governed by established University policy.
The Office of the Controller, the Office for Sponsored Research, and the Office of University Development make a joint determination if there is a question about whether external funding should be treated as a sponsored project or a gift. For assistance, call OSR at 847/491-3003 in Evanston or 312/503-7955 in Chicago.
Office for Research - 633 Clark Street, Evanston, IL 60208-1108
The Office for Research promotes, facilitates and enhances research at Northwestern University.
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