Donors change lives.

Contributions to James Madison University sustain the professors and students at the heart of the learning enterprise. When you support JMU people and programs you become an important part of their engagement with ideas, and you help them achieve and innovate in ways that also engage with the world. As a philanthropic community of JMU alumni, friends, employees, current students and family members, together we create opportunities to address the societal challenges of today and further JMU’s vision to become the national model of the engaged university.

Below are frequently asked questions and useful answers to help you understand why donors like you are so important to the growth of the university you love.


You have several options so you can choose the way that is right for you.

Unleashed: The Campaign for James Madison University is JMU’s comprehensive fundraising campaign, which began in 2014 and continues until 2022. 

The James Madison University Foundation ensures that funds are disbursed according to your wishes and fund guidelines to support JMU students, professors, programs and facilities. When you make a gift to your department or to scholarships or to support the JMU faculty, for instance, the JMU Foundation administers your gift on behalf of Madison. So, when you give through the JMU Foundation, you are directly supporting James Madison University.

You get many opportunities to contribute because only you know when the time is right and what areas of the university are most important to you. The many people and programs of JMU provide an array of worthy options for getting involved and investing in something you are passionate about. With so many possibilities and stories to tell, we are in touch frequently to help you connect with what’s most meaningful to you.

The university needs funding from many sources to achieve its mission of preparing students to be educated and enlightened citizens who lead productive and meaningful lives. Although state-supported schools like JMU receive money from the Commonwealth — an amount that is decreasing — donations from private individuals make it possible to do more for our students. A number of JMU priorities depend on these private dollars, especially academic and athletic scholarship programs. 

Beginning in 2020 and as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, student scholarship need has intensified while the university’s means of support are under stress. The public health crisis has cost JMU an estimated $33 million across the university. The pandemic has also prompted further reductions in funding from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Refunds to students after the university’s move to online classes in spring 2020, as well as looming threats to future enrollment levels, add to the financial pressure. Donors who are in a position to give will be crucial to sustaining JMU, providing a stabilizing force and bolstering our rise above the chaos of this pandemic.

Tuition covers about 38% of the university’s annual operating budget. And even though we raise tuition in some years in an attempt to offset declining state funding, the cost to attend JMU remains one of the lowest in the region. To keep our standards of academic excellence while maintaining an affordable price for students, we need your financial support.

Much of the money we receive from the state government is for capital projects (campus improvement), and by law those funds must be used for that purpose and no other. Construction at JMU, such as the new College of Business Learning Complex, is undertaken to keep pace with a growing student population while offering the best learning environments we can. Significantly, the Commonwealth usually requires projects like this to secure 50% participation (“matching” funds) from private donors.

Scholarships are crucial both for recruiting top students and for ensuring current students have the resources they need to complete their degrees. To stay competitive with other schools’ financial packages, we need scholarships so we don’t lose deserving students — students for whom JMU is their first choice, a choice that is accessible only with financial support. What’s more, many students who would otherwise shoulder the financial burden of a college education themselves (and may not be able to perform well academically while doing so) can be immeasurably assisted with scholarships, making sure they are equipped with the skills they need to succeed and make a difference in the world.

In the last decade, more than 350 Dukes have been able to overcome unanticipated financial challenges, continue their studies and complete their degrees thanks to donors’ support of Madison Forever Scholarship recipients. Over the years, the scope of these scholarships broadened to provide merit-based awards, which was responsible and responsive in the time before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, with Madison for Keeps emergency scholarships, we are focused on securing aid for those who have nowhere else to turn. (Madison Forever will continue to exist, but you won’t receive any more messages from us about it.) Your support of these students will be instrumental as everyone works together to navigate and then recover from the current public health crisis. 


JMU’s annual financial statements, which detail both revenue and expenses, are available to the public on the Office of Finance website.

To learn more about our endowment, please review the JMU Foundation website.

To see how your gift helps us build philanthropy at JMU, please see more FAQs on the university’s Gift Reinvestment Program.


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