' Gifts vs. Grants | JHURA

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Gifts vs. Grants

How to distinguish a gift from a grant

Identifying an agreement as a private gift or sponsored agreement has important accounting and tax-related implications. At JHU, gifts and grants are handled by two separate JHU units that each maintain their own distinct sets of policies and procedures. Gifts are handled by the Foundation Relations Office and sponsored agreements are managed by JHURA.

Distinguishing a gift from a grant is not always easy. Use the information below to help you make your determination, and if it is still not clear, reach out to your JHURA grants associate.

Financial assistance mechanism providing money, property, or both to an eligible entity to carry out an approved project or activity. A grant is used whenever the grantor anticipates no substantial programmatic involvement with the recipient or grantee during performance of the financially assisted activities

The below criteria are typical indicators of a sponsored project:

  • A line-item budget for the project expenses
  • A scope of work or a detailed statement of the planned Activity
  • A specified period of performance as a term and condition
  • A commitment by JHU to provide “deliverables” (e.g., products, or periodic technical or progress reports)
  •  Fiscal accountability, including the submission of financial reports, audit provisions, prior sponsor approval of or control over expenditures, and/or an obligation to return remaining funds
  • A commitment to communicate rights to tangible or intangible property resulting from the project (equipment, data, technical reports, copyrightable or patentable materials).

The below criteria are typical indicators of a gift:

The Johns Hopkins University will accept unrestricted gifts, and gifts for specific programs and purposes, provided that such gifts are not inconsistent with its stated mission, purpose, and priorities. The university will not accept gifts that violate the terms of the corporate charter, are unduly burdensome to administer, pose an unacceptable risk of liability to Johns Hopkins, benefit a specified Johns Hopkins employee or student, or that are for purposes outside the mission of Johns Hopkins.

  • No deliverables
  • Minimal Requirements
  • The funds directly support or relate to the University’s mission
  • The donor will receive minimal or no value in exchange for their support
  • There is not a detailed scope of work, budget, or period of performance specified by the donor. *The donor may specify the general domain of work.
  • There is not a line-item budget, and there are no restrictions on how the funds are used, although the use must be true to the donor’s original stipulations.
  • Remaining funds are not required to be returned to the donor.


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