What does 7% exactly mean?
Despite over 108,000 now counting themselves among JMU’s alumni ranks, only 7,770 of them gave back a gift of any amount last year.
7% doesn’t look any better when compared to other universities that our students and alumni are probably familiar with.
97% of JMU alumni would say that the education and opportunities - the Madison Experience - at JMU is not only unmatched with these universities, but any school in the country. If that’s the case, does it make any sense that showing support for beloved JMU is where our alumni fall way behind? We say no and think that JMU’s alumni would not only agree, but answer the call and do something about it.
How do we only have 7%?
When breaking down JMU’s alumni give rate by graduating class decades, there’s a steady decline starting with our 1950’s graduates. It’s easy to see these numbers and assume that JMU donors are made up of older, wealthier, alumni. However, when looking at the actual number of donors by graduating class decades, it’s a completely different picture.
There are more 1980’s and 1990’s donors than any other decade, and there are just about as many 2000’s donors as 1970’s donors. The problem we face isn’t that our more recent generations of JMU alums don’t donate, it’s that not enough of them do.
We now have over 108,000 alumni claiming allegiance to JMU. 67,000 graduated (roughly 62%) graduated after 1990. While the largest gaps need to made up among our recent decades, every class year from JMU has a minority of it’s members giving back to JMU. Improving our donor numbers and funding for the university is an effort requiring every alumni class year. To see a rundown of all graduating class giving so far this year, click here.
Why is 7% a problem?
A common misconception about JMU is that we have plenty of funding. It’s easy to assume that with the beauty of JMU’s campus and amazing new buildings under construction every year. However, funding for new buildings and yearly operating expenses are two completely separate things.
When just looking at operating expenses, our Educational and General (E&G) Programs (professors, instructional equipment, financial aid, etc) have only three major sources of funding:
Over the last decade, there’s been a dramatic shift in how JMU’s E&G programs are funded.
In 2000-2001, almost half of JMU’s E&G budget was supported by state funds. Ten years later, only 29% of state funds supported our E&G programs. Consequently, JMU has and will continue to need more support from tuition and private support fund sources. Over a ten year span, more of that support has come from tuition, with a rise from 37% in 2000-2001 to 58% in 2010-2011.
However, tuition can only go so far to close the state funding gap while still keeping JMU affordable. Donations from alumni are needed this year and every year to maintain the unparalleled education and opportunities for which Madison has long been recognized.
A college education is the most expensive purchase someone will ever make that they can’t sell to someone else. It’s also an investment that goes beyond the years they attended classes. As JMU’s reputation has grown nationally, so too have the reputations of our graduates.
Whether it be in education or business, science or the arts, medicine or law, JMU graduates have become recognized not just as masters of their craft, but as well-rounded members of their communities. Because of this, JMU has the opportunity to be the blueprint for the national engaged university - a type of university that combines a commitment of learning and a conviction that all people are interconnected. Now, more than ever, can’t be a time where we fall behind, but rather where we continue moving forward.
If we are to succeed in making JMU a model for the new American university, we must do it together.For 18 straight years, US News and World Report ranked JMU as the top public regional university in the south. In 2011, we lost the top spot to the Citadel. The reason wasn’t our graduation rate, the credentials of our incoming students, or our student-faculty ratio - it was our 7% alumni giving rate compared to their 29% rate.
Alumni have been the driving force behind institutions across America for generations, and at JMU this should be no different. If we are to succeed in making JMU a model for the new American university, we must do it together. Luckily, JMU has over 108,000 alumni capable of helping take us there, but we need some of the 100,000+ alumni not giving to take action alongside the 7,000+ that already are.