Section 4.6 Grants, Gifts and Fundraising

Generating External Funds for Cooperative Extension (for Personnel, Programs, or Projects)

It is important that all Extension staff understand and work within University and Cooperative Extension policies and procedures when seeking external funding. All external funds that support Extension must be managed within University chartfield accounts, except for county funds, which are managed by County Executive Committees.

As described below, there are various pathways for generating external funding, and staff are expected to adhere to the Extension policies and guidance related to them.

1. Extension Sales, Service, and Registrations

Revenue is generated through the delivery of programs and services, and sales of promotional merchandise and publications. Some examples include Master Gardener Volunteer registration, Potato Conference registration, Compost School registration, animal and plant diagnostic services, camper fees, 4-H program registration fees, and branded t-shirt sales. Most program and service revenue is paid via online registrations managed by the Financial and Data Management Systems Administrator. Publication sales are managed by Extension’s Publications Manager/Graphic Designer. Services that are governed by contracts and agreements are reviewed by Extension’s Accounting and Reporting Professional, and can only be signed by the Dean of Extension or a designee.

2. Gifts & Fundraising

Gifts/Donations: A gift is a contribution received to support Extension’s mission for which we have made no commitment of resources or services other than committing to use the gift as the donor specifies. All gifts are deposited to the UMaine Foundation through a specific process; Extension’s Dean office Administrative Specialist will work with you and the UM Foundation to make deposits. All staff who may be involved in soliciting, receiving, and/or processing gifts should be familiar with gift-giving policies. See:

If you have questions please contact Extension’s Financial and Data Management Systems Administrator.

Fundraising: Funds generated through fundraising activities are accounted for as “gifts” once the value of what the “donor” receives is calculated and subtracted. This must be done within a special accounting process in order to determine that value. Fundraising activities require a special one-time chartfield account and an associated gift account. If you are planning a fundraising event to benefit UMaine Cooperative Extension or one or more of its programs, please contact Extension’s Assistant Director and Financial Manager or Accounting and Reporting Professional.

3. Funded Projects with Deliverables

Grants and Contracts: All proposals for grants and contracts are submitted through the Office of Research Administration (ORA). The process is structured to meet auditable management and accounting guidelines for each award. These funding opportunities typically require project budgets and a specific set of deliverables. Staff should work with Extension’s Accounting and Reporting Professional for guidance about timelines, how to submit proposals, and how to manage grants.

Industry Sponsored Projects & Research: Funds that are generated from business and/or industry to support projects that result in deliverables (quid-pro-quo) must be managed through the Office of Innovation and Economic Development — Industrial Cooperation. An example of a funded project with deliverables would be a crops trial funded by a seed company in return for research results. Staff should contact with Extension’s Accounting and Reporting Professional for guidance.

4. Public Funds

State Funding through legislative requests: Requests to the State of Maine for funding of University programs are made by the University of Maine System only and can never be made directly or indirectly by University staff, departments, or campuses. If you have any interest in State funding through the legislative process you must contact your Program Administrator and the Extension Leadership Team. Also, if you get contacted by a legislator asking for assistance with a funding request that is directly or indirectly related to Cooperative Extension programs please connect with your supervisor/Extension Administration immediately for guidance about how to respond.

County Funds: County funding for Extension is governed by State of Maine statute and can only be made through each county’s Executive Committee, not directly by University staff.

Other Revenue Sources

If you envision bringing funds into the University to support Extension that do not fit into the categories above, please contact Extension’s Assistant Director and Financial Manager or Accounting and Reporting Professional.

Grant Seeking and Grant Management

Grants can be a valuable resource to University of Maine Cooperative Extension. To take full advantage of grant funding, the goals of the grant should fit with program priorities established by UMaine Extension, and within the University of Maine System fiscal management practices. Before seeking grant funding, it is essential to discuss the proposed grant with the appropriate Program Administrator (PA). All grant submissions must be in compliance with University of Maine System, University of Maine, and Office of Research Administration (ORA) policies and procedures governing sponsored activity at the University of Maine (

All funding should be used to support program priorities identified in the Plan of Work (POW). Activities that are funded with grant money should enhance or support regular Extension activities. It is important to have a specific use of funds in mind when seeking external funding sources and to determine whether the more appropriate source of external funding is a grant or a gift. This is best determined by contacting the Operations Administrator for assistance, your PA, and/or the Executive Director of the Maine 4-H Foundation (in their role as leader of Development for Cooperative Extension).

The grant should address a well-identified need. At a minimum, goals of a grant should be supported not only by the appropriate PA, but by an executive committee or advisory group as well as peers, partners, and/or other stakeholders. It is often advantageous that goals are supported by others who may be involved in the activities of the grant. Consideration should also be given to the following questions:

  • Will the impacts of the successful funding of this project be able to be replicated at other locations?
  • Are there any future costs to the organization after the end of the grant period?

Your Program Administrator (PA) and the Executive Director are responsible for prioritizing by Extension program staff. The PA must approve the concept of the proposal and the allocation of time dedicated to it prior to submission of a grant. The Principal Investigator (PI) needs to specify time commitments for all staff supported by the grant. Support from County Executive Committees and/or supervisors for those time commitments, and agreement on what work in the POW will be deferred to carry out the grant should accompany the grant request.

A copy of the request for proposals or guidelines for proposal submission (RFP) should be sent to the appropriate PA and Operations Administrator upon approval of the concept. The RFP is used to make sure all funding requirements and organizational commitments are understood early in the process — this is especially important when the funder requires matching funds. Notification of intent to apply should be sent to the ORA Pre-Award Manager as soon as the decision to apply has been made. Notification can be sent to ORA directly from the PI or the PI can request that the Operations Administrator initiate contact. Important: it is the responsibility of the PI to be aware of and adhere to the ORA timeline requirements.

Grant Seeking and Writing Resources

The Office of Research Administration (ORA) assists faculty and staff in seeking and managing research grants, government contracts, and other extramural funding. ORA serves as an applicant, contract negotiator, and signatory authority for the University in such matters, and provides grant accounting assistance once an award is made. The ORA website provides training, compliance information, and many up-to-date guides and forms that you will need to apply for and manage external funding. If you are submitting a grant for the first time you should immediately register with the Proposal and Routing System, Submit a Notice of Intent and review the Proposals page. Depending on who your funder is there may be selected online training that you will need to complete prior to submitting your proposal. The trainings can be found in the Guidance/Policy page of the ORA Website.

Additional assistance in seeking funding as well as grant preparation assistance can be found at the Grant Development Office, part of the Office of the Vice President for Research, and the Folger Library. The Grant Development Office assists faculty with proposal development, grant resubmission support, identifying targeted funding opportunities, training and technical assistance related to grantsmanship, and collaboration assistance. The Folger Library can provide training on PIVOT, which is the University’s funding opportunity search tool that we strongly endorse.

For further help and advice about funding sources please contact Extension’s Operations Grant Administrator.

Proposal Development and Budget Considerations

It is important to consult with an ORA Pre-Award Representative during the development of the budget and to follow all University and Sponsor budget preparation guidelines. Please consult with your supervisor and review the Proposals page on the ORA website. All budgets should be on the most recent ORA budget template which may be found on the Resources page on the ORA website.

1. New Hires:

Before hiring a person who is fully funded by grant funds (soft money), PIs must work closely with Extension’s HR office to determine the appropriate position and pay rate. The supervisor (typically the PI) will explain to candidates that the position is contingent upon funding and that expenses related to his/her employment will be paid out of grant funds. The anticipated duration of the grant will be disclosed. This information must be clear in any position description and all regular Extension hiring policies for faculty, associates, and classified staff must be followed.

If it is anticipated that external funds will be used to create a new position, either short- or long-term, the principal investigator (PI) seeking funds must work with appropriate parties (PI, ELT, County Coordinator) to arrange for space where that person will be housed, any additional administrative support, and furniture/equipment for that person to use. Funds for office equipment, computer software, telephones, etc., to support the grant must be part of the grant if allowable (under Federal and Sponsor guidelines, some general office expenses may not be considered allowable. It is the PI’s responsibility to make sure that only allowable costs are included in the proposed budget).

2. Cost-Sharing (Matching Funds):

Cost-sharing means that the University contributes a portion of the costs to the proposed project. PIs must limit cost-sharing to either limits imposed by the sponsor or amounts needed to accomplish their scope of work. All University cost-sharing must be approved within PARS prior to proposal submission. All proposed cost-sharing must also be approved by the Financial Director. The preferred contribution from the University is a portion of the personnel costs: salaries and wages, plus the fringe benefits associated with them. In-kind match is strongly discouraged. The University also pays the F&A costs associated with the direct costs it contributes.

3. Subrecipients:

Subrecipients are organizations or institutions, not individuals, to which a portion of the project activities will be delegated. Subrecipients are distinguished from vendors (Professional Services) by having their own key personnel, the scope of work, budget and budget justification. A Sub-recipient Commitment Form (available on the ORA website) is required prior to proposal submission. Awards made to sub-recipients are formal arrangements and generally carry the same terms and conditions as the prime award. As PI you are fully responsible for approving payments to sub-recipients based on their adherence to the parameters of the award.


Please review the Award Management page of the ORA Website. If you receive a notice of award, please notify your supervisor and the Finance and Operations office of Cooperative Extension immediately.

Grant managers are responsible for post-award budget management and expenditures and are supported in that effort by the Finance and Operations unit of Cooperative Extension. Please keep in close contact so that your new budget can be appropriately administered, especially in the area of wages and benefits.

Major Program and Grant Guidelines

Administrative Roles and Responsibilities

The PA will:

  • be consulted by a faculty member when considering the submission of a grant;
  • review the first draft of the grant so that objectives of the funding request are congruent with the mission of Extension;
  • act as a communications liaison for the faculty member and the ELT concerning the grant
  • advocate for the grant with the ELT and support the objectives of the grant, its plan of action and method of evaluation;
  • provide clear communications among the ELT, faculty and associates working with the grant
  • provide support should there be questions or concerns from public officials, collaborating agencies or the University community regarding the grant;
  • work in a mutually agreeable partnership with the PI and the Extension Operations Grant Administrator concerning the financial management of the grant;
  • be responsible for the hiring process that may be involved with the funding of the grant. Hourly staff hired with grant funds are delegated to the faculty involved.

Principal Investigator Roles and Responsibilities

The PI will:

  • be the author of the grant; the first draft will be shared with the PA during the writing process;
  • be responsible for developing and monitoring the budget for the grant. The PI will update the PA periodically and will be consulted should there be major changes proposed for the grant;
  • manage an award in compliance with the funder’s guidelines (see Post Award Services)
  • make the programmatic decisions necessary to fulfill the grant;
  • make the purchasing decisions for the grant;
  • submit the necessary documentation to the funding source concerning any required reporting on the grant;
  • communicate any out-of-state travel plans prior to the submission of an out-of-state travel voucher.
  • be responsible for the fiscal management of the grant by understanding regulations and guidelines that govern an award (see Fiscal Accountability and by timely communication with the Operations Grant Administrator and Purchasing office.

Shared Roles and Responsibilities of the PA and PI

The PA and PI will:

  • communicate any relevant information that could impact the grant.
  • discuss openly any issues that are in conflict concerning the grant.

Fund Raising and Gifts

The following is the University of Maine Procedures for Gift Processing and Fundraising (Gift Processing Home page).

All solicitations for private support must be cleared through the University of Maine Foundation in order to maintain a coordinated approach to the solicitation of prospects. Development Officers are working closely with the Deans to provide early assistance with fund-raising requests. These requests must come with appropriate authorization through the Chair, the Dean, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, or the Program Director, whichever is appropriate.

When possible, it is best to have donors send their donations directly to the Gift Processing Department with their designation intentions noted on or with the donation. All gifts (whether cash, stocks, gifts-in-kind, gifts for memorial funds or bequests) should be transmitted promptly to the Gift Processing Department for recording, receipting and acknowledgment. Matching gift forms accompanying gifts should be forwarded for processing as well. Probate notices, wills, correspondence from attorneys or executors relative to bequests should also be forwarded to the Gift Processing Department for follow-up and monitoring. The department Chair, Dean or other responsible person who is the beneficiary of a significant gift should also acknowledge the donor without mention of the dollar amount.

Gifts In-Kind: Due to the complexity of Gifts-In-Kind, please contact the Gift Processing Department when such gifts are considered or initiated. Additional information regarding gifts in-kind can be found on the Gifts-In-Kind Requirements page.

The Office of University Development will provide helpful assistance and guidance in attempting to accommodate needs, but is guided by the priorities of the institution, which involves the Deans, the Vice Presidents, and the President. Support from the private sector, the Annual Alumni Fund and the University of Maine Foundation should be accessed only through the above process.