What Constitutes a Grant vs. a Gift

There are very clear factors that differentiate a Grant and a Gift. It is important to be able to recognize the difference so that the grant/gift is set-up appropriately. Grants are set-up by Sponsored Programs Accounting and are assigned grant account numbers. Gifts are set-up by the Budget Office and are assigned Department ID accounts.

Below is a list of ways one can differentiate a gift that should be set up as a Dept ID and an award which should be set up as a project/grant.

Please note that in some cases it may not be readily apparent if the award is a grant or gift. In these cases Sponsored Programs Accounting will review the documentation and decide which classification is most appropriate.

Grant Vs. Gift



Gift / Department ID


Represents an
"exchange transaction"
in which each party
receives commensurate

Represents a
"contribution," an
unconditional transfer of
cash which is voluntary
and non-reciprocal..


Usually has reporting
requirements or specific
restrictions on how the
money can be spent.
No reporting No

Time Period

Usually has a specified
time period over which
the work will be done (a
start date and an end date).
No specific time period


Sometimes requests
that unused funds must
be returned to the
awarding agency/
foundation/ corporation.
Usually all the money is
received upfront. Tufts is
given unconditional rights to the funds and
funds do not need to be
returned to the sponsor.