Summary: Institutional fund for matching funds William Campbell 09 Nov 2000 16:11 EST


Some days ago I queried the list about institutional matching funds.  I recieved some very interesting and helpful replies, thanks to all.  Since I can never figure out which posts go to the entire list and which to an individual (yes, I've embarrassed myself more than once), I have reproduced below all of the usable replies I received.

First my original query:

I have proposed to our chancellor that my institution establish an institutional grant fund to pay cash matches, fringe benefits when the sponsor doesn't, and other such expenses.  She asked me 'what do other universities do?'  Good question.  It contains two, more specific, questions:

1. For those institutions that have some sort of fund from which you can draw cash matches and such, how much is in it?  Do you size your fund based on past experience?  On what's available?  On some percentage of external funds collected per year?

2. Where does the money come from?  I've suggested two sources: indirect costs and our university foundation.  Are there any other likely candidates?

We're a small institution with only between $2M and 3M external funds received per year, but grant activity is increasing.  And we'd like it to increase faster.  We've reached the point where we have to think twice about submitting proposals with cash matches, hence my proposal to
establish a fund.

I received 8 replies.  Here they are--

I have a $65k ongoing annual budget to use for matching funds. When a
project requires matching, I rebudget from that pool into a separate budget
for that project (makes tracking easier). So far, I've always been allowed
to carry forward existing commitments (rebudgeted funds), but not any
balance remaining in the pool at the end of the fiscal year.  My money comes
directly out of the university's annual operating budget.  It is used only
for research or instruction related projects in the academic division.
Other recurring projects, like our NYSP program, have separate matching
accounts that are included in the normal university budgeting process each
year.  When we have extraordinary needs, such as a large number of NSF
equipment projects, then I ask for a one-time budget allocation for that
year.  I've had this in place for about 4 years now and it certainly has
simplified my life not to have to run to VP's and deans to negotiate
cost-share on every single project.

Last year [our grant funds received total] was $4.3 million.  We're still seeing pretty steady growth, which
never ceases to surprise me. The fund that I have seems to be enough for
most things, including eqpt. grants.    I have only once had to ask for a
special supplement, and that grant didn't get funded so it turned out to be
moot after all.


We have a lower external funds total than your institution, probably average
~$1 million/yr. For matching funds, we have a central budget line, fed by
$35,000/yr. I've been in this job less than a year, so I don't know the
history. I do know the fund is underused.


We capture 30% of indirect and re-invest in matching and
start-up.  Being a private institution, we have no real equipment lines
for matching.  I recommend the allocation of matching, and require the
concurrence of the dean of the college affected and the graduate dean.
We monitor on an annual basis and generally overallocate by about 200%,
knowing that not al proposals will be funded. In extremely good years,
we adjust payout if we have too many funded matching requests.


We are a small university also, approx. $2 M/annually in external funding, and recently established a "Reserve" fund to use for cash matches.  The funds for this are coming from recovered overhead - 20%.  The vice presidents and deans gave up their share for 5 years in order to do this.  We are currently in the 3rd year and the fund has built up to approx. $43,000.  Obviously we don't recover a lot of overhead annually.  I assume it will be reviewed at the end of the 5-year period and we will either continue to funnel a portion of overhead into it or discontinue it altogether.  We have not taken anything out of it yet - we want it to build up a little before we start tapping into it.

For small institutions, cash match requirements pose a problem and this is our attempt to alleviate some of that.  Unless we increase our external support and indirect cost recovery, which there is a big push to do, a reserve fund such as this will not last very long.


Radford ($4.5 million last year) does not have a centralized pool.  Much of
the discretionary funds at the university are in the hands of the deans.
The Vice President for Academic Affairs has decentralized this so they make
their own decisions about how to use any "risk capital" they have.  Funds
come from general operating costs, foundation donations from alumni to a
specific college, and 5% of the F&A recoveries.  Note: the departments also
get 10% of F&A of their sponsored programs and sometimes cover all or some
of a match requirement.


We've had an institutional cash cost share fund since 1986, provided by the university as part of the regular budget process.  It's up to about $590,000 right now, but about $300,000 is set aside each year for our community mental health center,which is a designated service provider funded by the state.

So, I really have about $286,000 to allocate each year.  I try to be judicious in allocating, using a set of guidelines submitted to the AVP several years ago.  Some years I use it and some years we turn money back; once we went over and the university just covered it.

It's been a boon in helping faculty get their first original grants, usually small, where the cost-sharing really helped.

Our research grants for the first time ever just topped $2 million--overall grants were $16.8, but that is very misleading because $13 million of that amount was for various community outreach projects, predominantly funded by the Chicago public schools.  For comparison sake, use the $2 million in faculty projects.


We do have a line item in the budget for cash matches -- currently around
$70k.   It's intended primarily for required match for equipment but we use
it for other required match including the 25% cost-share for small VT-EPSCoR
grants; priorities (when choices need to be made) are supplies, student
stipends, and expenses related to students.    We have used it for fringe
benefits on grants that don't/won't pay for fringe benefits (payroll tax
rate only = 10%).     We will use it for voluntary match on equipment but
not usually for other voluntary match (except for token amounts).    The
unique thing about this account is that our Comptroller has guaranteed that
it will be at least level-funded every year so we can commit cost share from
it in future years (I'm working on FY02 right now).     He also has
guaranteed that all unspent funds will go into a reserve account, dedicated
to this purpose.     The account is administered by an Associate Dean of
Faculty but I maintain a spreadsheet that tracks Matching Fund commitments
and I'm the one who can assure the Comptroller that we are not
over-committed.     The Comptroller allows us to commit up to 150% of the
uncommitted funds in this year's budget (or up to 100% of the total of
uncommitted funds plus the amount in reserves).    We've been operating with
this account and spreadsheet for 8 years now.   The system works for small
grants.  Right now we're stretched to the limit because of three pending
CCLI proposals with large price tags -- I hope if these are successful that
we're able to find some other institutional sources or grant funds to cover
some of the match.      We are also using this fund to cover matches that
will ultimately come from other sources -- it allows us to track the match
in one place.    This is the part we haven't perfected -- in order to keep
us within the "rules" I've had to enter some of this "other source" matching
as a negative number on the spreadsheet (which is fudging the system).

We also are meeting cash matches with underrecovery of indirect costs (which
are tracked in the grant account by charging the grant for the indirects and
then offsetting it with a "donation") and volunteer faculty time
(underrecover of summer salary effort) plus the associated indirect costs.

As for the "source" of this matching fund -- it's just part of our budget.
When faculty complain about the indirect costs, I shown them the IDC
recovery (taken into the operating budget) vs. the matching fund and they
usually shut up -- because the matching fund tends to be at least 50% of our
IDC recovery.

"Faculty" grants (grants to support faculty scholarship, including funding
direct to faculty) have been about $1million/year for the past few years.
"Institutional" grants (grants to support institutional mission) average
about $5 million over the past 5 years but fluctuate drastically.


> 1. For those institutions that have some sort of fund from which you
> can draw cash matches and such, how much is in it?   $200,000
guaranteed plus more depending on indirect recoveries

Do you size your
> fund based on past experience?  No.

 On what's available?  Yes.

On some
> percentage of external funds collected per year? No.

> 2. Where does the money come from?  I've suggested two sources:
> indirect costs and our university foundation.  Are there any other
> likely candidates? We get our from F&A, State funds, funds at the discretion of
> our Board of visitors

Again, thanks to everyone who responded.  If you missed my query the first time around and would like to reply, please do so--I need all the information I can get.  If some new replies come in, I'll share them with the list.

Regards, Bill

Bill Campbell
Director, Grants & Research
University of Wisconsin-River Falls

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