These FAQs are intended to help our JMU colleagues have the information needed to pursue and receive a privately funded gift or grant to further your research, program, or project.

If your question does not appear in this list, please contact us, and we will happily assist you.

The Role of Corporate & Foundation Relations

CFR is authorized to assist and accompany you during every step of the funding process. In addition to our work with corporate and foundation funders, we coordinate with several other offices on campus to ensure that your gift or grant proposal has the best chance of success and compliance with institutional, state, and federal finance rules and regulations.

We can be most helpful if you contact us in advance of your outreach to foundations, corporations, or other private funders, as we can assist with background information, strategy, connections, and outreach.

The university requires that you contact us before seeking funding from priority corporations or limited submission opportunities (LSOs) for grants.


Our primary function is to foster strong relationships between internal colleagues and external partners. We work with principal investigators and academic leadership on the many strategies that ensure enduring partnerships. 

Review our services for faculty and staff.

In short, we help secure the funding that they help safeguard and manage.

The CFR team works with faculty members to facilitate strong relationships with private companies and foundations. We approach fundraising through this relationships lens, which means that our commitment to creating a meaningful, positive experience extends as much to funders and donors as it does to our colleagues at JMU.

We coordinate with several other offices to facilitate these relationships, including

  • the Office of Sponsored Programs, which provides oversight of externally sponsored research, including grant management and compliance services;
  • the University Business Office, which handles money received that equates to payment for or reimbursement of goods or services; and
  • the James Madison University Foundation, Inc., which manages and stewards philanthropic funds so that they are disbursed according to the stated purpose of a gift.

Organizationally, CFR is a JMU department of Development, dedicated to securing private funding, within the division of University Advancement. Likewise, OSP is a JMU department; it is situated in Research and Scholarship, which has staff who assist with governmental funding, within the division of Academic Affairs. And the UBO is also a JMU department, and it is situated within the Finance Office within the division of Administration and Finance.

Though affiliated and for the benefit of the university, the JMU Foundation exists and operates independently.

Whether funds raised are under the accounting management of OSP, the JMU Foundation, or the UBO depends on whether they constitute a grant or gift, the terms of the funder, and a variety of other institutional rules, governmental regulations, and exceptions. We help navigate these complexities in consultation with the accounting professionals at each of these three offices.

Helpful Definitions

Some funding awards qualify as gifts, while others are sponsored programs, also known as grants. Grants/sponsored activities are defined as those activities funded in whole or in part by sources external to JMU and for which there is a stated expectation on the part of the sponsor for performance and/or reporting beyond good stewardship. Grants must be approved and managed by the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP)

  • Grants have many more terms and conditions than gifts. For instance, grant funding typically has detailed financial reporting requirements, return of unused funds language, and other conditions.
  • Gifts are less restrictive in nature and typically do not require detailed financial reporting. Gifts and grants are administered differently at JMU.

Our CFR staff can assist you to ensure that the proper university processes and checks are in place. Please contact our office for assistance with both gifts and grants.

Limited submissions opportunities (LSOs) are funding opportunities for which JMU can submit only a specified number of proposals (usually limited to one) to a funder. Our CFR office and the Office of Sponsored Programs administer a preliminary internal application process for LSOs in which a JMU committee reviews applications and decides which faculty member(s) can move forward.

Quasi-endowment funds are funds functioning as an endowment that are established by the institution from either donor or institutional funds, and will be retained and invested rather than expended. The quasi-endowment must retain the purpose and intent as specified by the donor or source of the original funds, and earnings may be expended only for those purposes. Since they are established by the institution rather than by an external source, the principal may be expended as stipulated by the donor.

Applying for Funding

Even if this is your first foray into fundraising, give us a call or send us an email to tell us about your research, program, or project. We will help you decide about next steps, whether that is conducting funding research on your own (we'll provide recommendations about how to do that) or working with us to pursue corporate or foundation support.

University policy dictates that faculty members contact the CFR office before moving forward with applications for limited submissions opportunities (LSOs) and proposals to priority corporations.

Faculty members are strongly encouraged to contact our team any time they engage with institutional funders. We can help you develop and submit your proposal, and in many cases we can share additional application and institutional information from our database, provide background about JMU’s relationship with the prospective funder, and assist you in securing administrative letters and required institutional documents in advance of submission.

Yes, students are allowed to apply for grants and seek corporate funding. Please contact us for more information.

Foundations and corporations very rarely allow for indirect costs* to be budgeted at JMU’s federally negotiated rate. The best way to determine what grantors will cover in the way of administrative fees is to read their budget guidelines, or ask CFR to investigate if it is unclear. We will contact the funder on JMU’s behalf to inquire whether indirect costs are permitted and at what rate.

*Indirect costs are those expenses not directly related to your research, program, or project. Examples include telephone, the salary or wages of support staff, and general office supplies.

The CFR team works with the offices of both the president and the provost to draft and procure signatures on letters of support required by funders. Please notify us as soon as possible when a letter or signature is required from the president or provost.

This varies greatly among funders. Many funders provide the notification date for when awards will be announced. However, with some entities—particularly corporations—the review and approval process can depend on the availability of funding within a given quarter or fiscal year, so there is no clear notification date.

After Funding Has Been Awarded

Depending on where your funds are held—the Office of Sponsored Programs, the University Business Office, or the JMU Foundation—consult their accounting personnel about the required process for managing the money and other post-award administrative processes.

Requirements differ depending on the funder and the nature of the award. Reporting requirements are detailed in the grant agreement, and typically consist of narrative and financial reports. Corporate in-kind donations, and gifts from corporate foundations and corporations may not require reporting. Regardless of whether a report is compulsory, it’s always a good idea to keep your funder informed of the impact of their funds and to maintain relationships for the duration of your award. Our CFR staff is available to review narrative reports before submission.

Most foundations will permit a no-cost extension for a set period of time, often 3–6 months, to complete the project. Contact your program officer to discuss an extension, and make sure to receive the approval in writing. If your project was completed and funds are remaining, discuss with your program officer other related work that could be conducted with the remaining funds. For instance, perhaps a convening could be organized to disseminate the results of the project with stakeholders.

Also, please monitor all grant expenses closely to avoid situations in which very small amounts of grant funds are remaining from a closed grant. If you have any questions, please reach out to the CFR office for guidance.

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