2.2 - Types of Funding Sources


Familiarity with the types of funding sources can help faculty and staff identify potential project sponsors whose interest and level of support are appropriate to the project planned. Common categories of funding sources include federal, state, and local government entities, foundations and organizations, and businesses/industries.


Federal, state, and local government entities provide support for various sponsored programs. Examples of federal funding sources include the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the National Science Foundation (NSF), as well as the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA), Commerce (DOC), Defense (DOD), Education (USDE), Energy (DOE), Interior (DOI), and Health and Human Services (HHS), including the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Examples of state funding sources include the Mississippi (MS) Arts Commission, the MS Humanities Council, the MS Department of Education, the MS Department of Human Services, and the MS Water Resources Research Institute.

Local governments, such as the City of Oxford or Lafayette County, may also be sources of funding for sponsored projects.

Foundations and Organizations

Private and community foundations and organizations are additional sources of funding support. Many foundations have small staffs, so communication can be limited. However, foundations can be an excellent source of funding, if applicants have innovative ideas and target foundations that are most likely to have an interest in the project topic. Most foundations restrict their support to very specific areas of interest, so obtaining a foundation’s published annual report or funding guidelines when available can help proposal writers determine particular funding opportunities. Providing a foundation with a brief (e.g., three-page) concept paper of a proposed project is often an important first step in seeking foundation sponsorship.

Faculty and staff seeking gifts, as opposed to sponsorship, from foundations or organizations should work with the Office of University Development (see Section 2.1 for clarification of distinctions between gifts and sponsored programs). The procedures for seeking and accepting gifts are under the oversight of the Director of University Development. Faculty and staff who have identified a foundation to which they plan to apply for a grant are expected to notify the Office of University Development of their intent.

Businesses and Industries

Although often overlooked by academic researchers, businesses and industries are increasingly important funding sources. Business and industry support may include cash funding and/or in-kind contributions of expertise, services, equipment, or materials. Not only can businesses and industries provide support or partial support for a new project, but academic/business/industrial partnerships can also establish a basis for seeking additional funding from federal agencies or other sources, especially those requiring or rewarding such partnerships.

Proposals to businesses and industries generally originate with the proposer, not with an announced program. Therefore, extensive communication with the business or industry representative is crucial in determining project goals and expectations. Proposals are often shorter and simpler than those submitted to federal agencies, although the resulting legal agreements can be complex. Business and industry agreements often contain special clauses covering such things as publication rights, patents, nondisclosure of proprietary information, and indemnification. Section 7.16 offers further information on these issues in various non-governmental contracts, and ORSP staff are available to assist in these activities.

Note: The Principal Investigator or Project Director (PI/PD) must consult with the ORSP prior to entering into any agreement with business or industry to ensure that any proposed provisions are in compliance with university and state policies and, where applicable, to involve the ORSP in the negotiation process.