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Advancement University of Illinois Springfield

Grant Seeking: Quick Reference Guide

Kinds of Funding Defined


A grant is the least restrictive of contractual mechanisms and is used when the principal purpose of the award is to accomplish a specified public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by Federal statute. Typically issued by federal sponsors under a “financial assistance” program, awards support basic research to benefit the public good. State agencies, local governments, foundations, associations, corporations, and other private entities also use grants.

Cooperative Agreements

A cooperative agreement is a type of grant in which both parties may have responsibilities for portions of the statement of work. The federal sponsor chooses cooperative agreements as the instrument of award when conduct of the work involves substantial participation. The agreement will likely provide for combined efforts on site, joint ownership of the results, and co-authorship of publications. Both parties benefit, but the end results may still be intended for the public good.


Contracts are used when the principal purpose is procurement, i.e., acquisition of property or services for the direct benefit of the sponsor.  Under this definition, a contract is issued to support a “procurement” activity, the results of which are needed for the sponsor’s use in its own work. Contracts entail specific deliverables, and terms and conditions are incorporated directly into the contract document. It is the most restrictive of the contractual mechanisms.

Research Gifts

Research Gifts, University wide, are processed by OSPRA but administered financially through the University Foundation. OSPRA reviews the gift letter to ensure compliance with University policies and procedures and that no modifications have been made to the template approved by University Counsel. Guidance for determining if the award is a gift or grant can be found in the General Rules of the University and the Office of Business and Financial Services Policy.

From Foundation Center/Highlights of Foundation Yearbook, 2011 Edition

Types of Foundations:

  • Independent Foundations, which include family foundations, make up the largest segment of the private foundation world. Almost 90% of all private foundations are independent. They range from large entities with billion dollar endowments to small operations that made modest contributions to local causes.
  • Corporate Foundations are separately established foundations created for the purpose of conducting charitable grantmaking and activities on behalf of a company. Approximately 4% of foundations are Corporate.
  • Community Foundations are funded by a variety of sources including community members and organizations (which may include private foundations). These foundations manage donor-advised funds contributed by individuals who wish to designate to whom their funds should be distributed. Approximately 1% of foundations are Community.
  • Operating Foundations are not grantmaking foundations. They are established to raise funding for their own programs (most often research and direct service). Opportunities may exist to partner with these foundations if institutional missions align or compliment one another. Approximately 6% of foundations are Operating.

From Giving USA: The Numbers

2010 Contributions by Source:

  • Individuals: $211.77 billion / 73%
  • Foundations: $41 billion / 14%
  • Corporations: $15.29 billion / 5%
  • Bequests: $22.83 billion / 8%

Foundation Center, Foundation Giving Trends, 2011
Giving by Subject/Percent of Grant Dollars in 2009:

  • Education: 23%
  • Health: 23%
  • Human Services: 13%
  • Public Affiars/Society Benefit: 12%
  • Arts & Culture: 11%
  • Environment/Animals: 7%
  • International Affiars: 6%
  • Science & Technology: 3%
  • Religion: 2%
  • Social Sciences: 1%

Foundations are active in nearly all fields. However, funding is consistently concentrated in certain subject areas. As you can see, education and health top the list. Human services ranks third in grant dollars, but first in number of grants. This means that although there are many more grants awarded in a subject area, they many be smaller in terms of dollars.

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