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I have a program that needs funding…what do I do next?

Please go to our Find Funding page.  Make sure you have prior approval from your department chair to pursue funding for your project.

I have a prospect in mind for support of my program…what do I do next?

Please make sure to contact the Office of Corporate & Foundation Relations to ensure that your project is coordinated with other James Madison University efforts. The University may already have a relationship with the funder.  We want to add value to what you do by assisting with developing and writing proposals, acting as a point of contact, etc.

How do I find out what kinds of gifts are being made by a corporation or foundation?

The Office of Corporate & Foundation Relations can provide research support, including tracking current and past gifts made to universities and other organizations.  This information can be very helpful in preparing your request.  Please contact us at 540-568-3196 or

Several of my recent requests have been declined.  What are corporations and foundations looking for?

Corporate and foundation support represents just 15% of giving nationwide, and is extremely competitive.  To be successful, your program or project must be leading-edge, exciting, and stand out from the crowd.  Your proposal must also be well-written and fall within the interests of your identified prospective funder.  Do not become discouraged -- most proposals fail because funders lack the money to fund every good request.  The Office of Corporate & Foundation Relations can help you identify possible partnerships that match your interests, and can help craft the best approaches.

Why can’t I approach the major local foundations and corporations?

The University carefully approaches local large foundations and corporations, many of which have active relationships with the University.  Many of these relationships are managed through the President’s office, and approaches are made for major gifts for key University priorities.  The Office of Corporate & Foundation Relations can help identify new prospects to support your programs.

Should I research prospective corporate and foundation supporters?

A number of resources exist to help find prospective grant support.  The Office of Corporate & Foundation Relations is also available to help you identify potential grant funding for your program.

Will the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations write the proposal?

CFR can review drafts of proposals prior to submission, make suggestions, and answer questions; however, the expert who will lead the project should develop the proposal. We have provided samples of proposals for grant seekers online and are always available to answer questions.

Where is the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations?

The Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations is located in the lower level of the Leelou Alumni Center.  Add Physical, Mailing and Map Link

What grant-writing assistance is available?

Preparing a grant proposal can be a sizable undertaking, involving many details. Here is a rough outline of the assistance we can provide.

• Advise grant seekers how to research potential funders for the project.

• Advise on the appropriate strategy and approach for a particular foundation.

• Read the funder's guidelines and understand them thoroughly.

• Strategize and advise on proposal preparation and presentation, based on experience with hundreds of proposals.

• Provide institutional information and documents.

• Review the proposal narrative and format. Edit and suggest revisions.

• Ensure all items requested by the funder are assembled in final proposal package.

• Assist/coordinate electronic or paper submission.

• Track dates for submission, notification, receipt of funds and reports.

• If funded, assist with stewardship reports to funder.

I need funding. How do I get started?

The CFR staff is happy to assist you in seeking corporate and foundation support. The Find Funding tab will walk you through the process.

I am interested in soliciting a particular foundation. May I?

For the most part, yes. However, JMU has a priority-driven agenda with a few select funders and a process in place to ensure that the same few foundations are not simultaneously inundated with requests from JMU. To make this effective, JMU policy requires that you contact a Corporate and Foundations Relations Professional before contacting a foundation or corporation.

Are there foundations or corporations that I should not approach?

Yes. There are instances when the JMU administration or another school, college or unit at JMU will be in solicitation with a foundation or have a longstanding relationship with a foundation or corporation. Additionally, foundations or corporations sometimes request that JMU coordinate all proposals centrally, and this is accomplished through the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations. Therefore, please contact the Development Professional> in your school, college or unit prior to contacting any foundations or corporations for philanthropic support.

How can I determine if someone else at JMU is approaching the corporation or foundation I hope to pursue for funding?

The Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations maintains a list of all the foundations that we know of that are being approached by JMU. Feel free to contact your unit Development Professional> or CFR for information and advice about the foundation you plan to approach.

I feel confident in my ability to prepare and submit a competitive grant proposal. Why must I get approval from anyone before proceeding?

Your department chair and dean are responsible for guiding their areas according to a strategic plan. Sometimes a project is not right for the strategic direction of the department; sometimes the timing is not right; sometimes another proposal is already in progress to the same funder you have in mind. The approval process outlined above is designed to coordinate the grant seeking efforts of the faculty and staff at JMU.

Who should the applicant be?

The applicant for your proposal should be the James Madison University Foundation when the underlying program or project is charitable and the funder desires to give to a 501(c) (3) organization. Please see the Tools Page for JMU Foundation attachments.

However, if your project is funding research or a sponsored project, the proper applicant may be the James Madison University (JMU). When applying on behalf of JMU, the Office of Sponsored Programs will ultimately submit the application. Please contact the Office of Sponsored Programs for further instructions.

After submitting a proposal, how long will it take for a response?

It depends on the foundation. Some may respond to a proposal in as little as one month, while others take as long as 12-18 months to reach a decision. The foundation will usually communicate a time frame if you ask.

What type of institutional materials should be sent with the proposal?

The foundation will tell you what to include. Submissions may include some of the following documents:

• JMU documents (See the Tools page)

• Cover letter

• IRS letter of determination of non-profit status and certificate of 501(c)(3) status

• Financial Audits

• Annual budget

• Board of Trustees list

• Senior Staff list

• CVs or resumes of faculty and staff involved in project

Where can I find help developing my budget?

The funder may specify the format in which they would like the budget presented. If not, your format must simply present the budget expenses and project income clearly. Budgets will vary widely in intricacy depending upon the complexity and scope of the project. If you are submitting a full proposal, the budget must contain all of the costs associated with the project. Please see our Tools page for sample budgets. If you still have questions, please contact a member of the CFR Team.

What is meant by a “match?”

Sometimes as a condition of receiving a grant, a funder requires the applicant to provide or raise cash or in-kind goods and services for the project. The match is often expressed as a ratio. A 1:1 match means the applicant must provide or raise an amount equal to the amount requested of the funder. A synonymous term is cost-sharing. Determine if the funder allows in-kind donations to serve as the "match."

What are in-kind goods and services?

In-kind goods and services are items of value for which an organization would have to pay cash if it were necessary to purchase them. In-kind goods and services can often be used to fulfill a match requirement. For example, if a colleague who has expertise in program assessment agrees to assess your project without expecting payment, the value of those services could be considered an in-kind contribution.

What criteria do foundations use when deciding what projects and institutions to fund?

It will vary, but all funders want their donations to make an impact on society, a geographic region, or a discipline. Be sure to read the foundation's giving guidelines on its webpage or in its annual report because often the guidelines will be very specific about what the foundation is looking for in a proposal. When framing your presentation to the funder, keep the following questions in mind:

• What is the issue to be addressed? Put it in a larger context (global, regional, national, and societal) than just the project itself. Will the project move the field forward, address a particular problem, is the timing propitious, etc.?

• Why is JMU the ideal place to address it?

• What will have changed by the end of the project?

• How will you accomplish those changes?

• What do you need (time, money, facilities, people) to do it?

• How will you gauge your success?

• Why are you sending this particular proposal to this particular funder? Can you make any special appeal to this particular source?

We have received a grant. Now what do we do?

Congratulations—your project was one of the few selected for funding!

 1. Send a thank you letter to the foundation right away.

 2. Contact CFR so that we can help you with the appropriate procedures and record the gift.

 3. Organize now to ensure that all elements of the project will be successfully completed and that the budget will be managed properly.

 4. Plan now for the timely submission of a stewardship report that will account for your expenditures as well as show the foundation the impact that their gift has made. Sending a final report (and perhaps an interim report along the way) demonstrates your gratitude and prepares the funder for your next grant request.

 5. Make sure that your Development Officer enters your stewardship activities into Advance (JMU's donor database).

What are my responsibilities if the proposal is funded?

Your primary responsibilities include:

•Project Quality: Ensure that all elements of the project are successfully completed as proposed.

•Fiscal Oversight: Work with the appropriate accounting personnel to manage the budget and to ensure the timely submission of any required financial reports.

•Reporting: Provide the evaluation as spelled out in the grant application and report back to the funder the impact and results of the project.

What is meant by stewardship?

Stewardship refers to activities performed to ensure that the appropriate gratitude and recognition are expressed to the funder. It also includes communication regarding the impact of the project and the use of the funds. Stewardship is both the last phase of securing a grant and the first phase in developing the next funding request. With every communication, we are building a relationship, whether or not we receive the funding requested.

If the proposal is funded, the James Madison University Foundation will send a letter acknowledging receipt of the grant on behalf of the institution. If the gift is over $10,000, the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations will work with the Office of Donor Stewardship to send a personal thank you letter to the donor from the appropriate parties. The proposal author should send a note to the foundation or program officer as well. If a proposal is not funded, the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations may contact the program officer to learn what factors influenced the decision and will provide this information to the proposal author.

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