2.2.1 Policy on Distinguishing Gift vs. Sponsored Agreements in External Funding

Policy No: RESEARCH 2.2.1  
Type of Policy: Administrative
Effective Date: April 2013    
Last Revised: April 2013

Policy Owner: OSP
Policy Contact: Duane Hutchison, Director of Sponsored Programs, Duane.Hutchison@osp.gatech.edu

1. Policy Statement

It is the policy of Georgia Institute of Technology to manage all funds received in accordance with applicable federal, state and local laws and with the specific terms and conditions of any gift, grant and contract. The Institute’s approval, negotiation and agreement processes and mechanisms, accounting, budget practices, and oversight differ depending on whether the funds are categorized as a gift or as a sponsored award.

2. Scope

This policy applies to all Georgia Tech faculty and staff members.

3. Procedures

The terms gifts and sponsored agreements (grants, contracts or cooperative agreements) are often used interchangeably, however it is important that categorization of external funding received be undertaken with care and concern with the considerations listed below.


5.1 Sponsored Agreements
Sponsored projects are established when funds are awarded to the Institute by external sources in support of research, instruction, training, or services under an agreement that includes any one of the following:
  • a set of terms and conditions that binds the Institute and requires endorsement.
  • an obligation by the investigator to a line of scholarly or scientific inquiry that typically follows a plan, provides for orderly testing or evaluation, or seeks to meet stated performance goals.
  • an understanding of how funds will be used (typically includes a detailed budget that identifies expenses by activity, function, or project period).
  • a requirement for fiscal accountability as evidenced by the submission of financial reports to the sponsor, an audit provision, or the return of unexpended funds at the conclusion of the project (if the contract type is cost reimbursement).
  • an obligation to report project results
  • disposition of tangible or intangible property resulting from the project. Examples of tangible property include equipment, records, technical reports, theses or dissertations. Intangible property includes rights in data, copyrights or inventions.
  • an imposition of legal or financial considerations such as indemnification or warranties


5.2 Gifts (via Development Office – Foundation Relations)
A gift is an unconditional, voluntary, non-reciprocal transfer of assets (including unconditional promises) from a private entity to a not-for-profit organization. The donor may have certain expectations but there cannot be any actual control over expenditure of funds or any quid pro quo. The donor may not benefit from the execution of the gift. Gift accounts are established when funds are received from outside sources that are for unrestricted use and are free of the constraints or obligations of sponsored projects as described above. Acceptance of a gift usually precludes any accounting and reporting by the Institute.


  • In no instance should federal flow-through be considered a “gift.”
  • A gift does not change any research compliance obligations (protocol submissions) the PD/PI has in terms of their research. [See Section 3. for details]

If you have any questions regarding the above terms, please contact the Office of Sponsored Programs at 404.894.6937 or the Office of Foundation Relations at 404.894.2481.

4. Related Information

Resource Link
OSP http://www.osp.gatech.edu/
GTF http://www.gtf.gatech.edu/

5. Policy History

Revision Date Author Description
12-31-2013 OSP Rev 1.0