Contracts, Gifts and Grants

Correct classification and processing of all external funds -- gifts, grants, and contracts -- is essential for positive relationships with external funders, to avoid delays and for proper fiscal and fiduciary management at UC Berkeley. To enhance coordination and to ensure consistent and proper treatment of funds, please keep in mind the following overall distinctions: 


Gifts may be given for specific purposes, including research projects, but funding is given with the intent that the campus has broad flexibility to utilize it for said purpose. 

  • ​Gifts do not require anything of value, tangible or intangible, to be returned to the donor.
  • In addition, gifts should only require broad stewardship reporting, if any, to the donor on the progress of purposes funded.
  • The campus retains the exclusive right to any intellectual property, patent rights, copyright, or other materials produced as a result of work performed with a gift.
  • Gifts are never given by the federal government.
  • Gifts must benefit Berkeley by supporting activities that relate to the university’s mission of teaching, research, and public service.
  • Note that at UC Berkeley a distinction is made between gifts and research gifts that benefit individual researchers.  If you are looking to accept a research gift, please complete the Research Gift Intake Form here.
  • Gifts are accepted by University Development and Alumni Relations (UDAR). Please consult with the fundraising staff in your unit or send a note to, if you have questions about a new research gift or gift vs. grant designation. (If you have a question about how a specific transaction was processed contact  Additional contact information for the UDAR team is available here.


Grants, on the other hand, may be given for specific research or operating support, and are often outlined by a very detailed scope of work and time frame. Like gifts, grants benefit Berkeley by supporting activities that relate to the University’s mission of teaching, research and public service.

  • Grants often also include a line-item budget that the campus must adhere to when spending funding, as well as detailed financial reporting back to the funder.
  • A funder may require that monies not expended during the timeline of the project, be returned to them.
  • Finally, a grant may specify that the funder will receive specific material, training, a report, or product in return that might be intellectual property, patent rights, copyright, or technical reports.
  • Grants are given by federal and state entities, as well as non-profit institutions. Grants are not given by corporations. Grants are negotiated by the Sponsored Projects Office (SPO)You can find the SPO contact information here.

Other Contracts​

Outside of grants, the campus accepts industry sponsored research agreements where the campus engages in research and provides technical reporting and/or other intellectual property directly to industrial funders. 

There are are many other types of contracts that the campus enters into. These are all covered in the University of California, Berkeley Guide to Contracting.


Please note that distinctions between a gift and a sponsored award (grant or contract) is ambiguous and requires consideration of many factors. No single indicator, by itself, distinguishes a gift from a sponsored project.

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