A strong letter of support can make or break your ability to land funding.
Really, it can be that powerful, and for small or medium-sized nonprofits, it’s important to leave a lasting impression on as many funders as possible to get your organization off the ground.
A letter of support should highlight successful partnerships, the differences you’ve made, and the impact you can still have with a funder’s support. You want to knock potential funders out of the park with these letters and inspire them to be a part of the change within your organization.
In this article, we’ll share all you need to know about creating and soliciting a letter of support for a grant, including:
What is a letter of support for a grant
Why do funders ask for letters of support in their RFPs
Key components every letter of support should include
Who should you ask for a letter of support?
How to ask for a letter of support
Let’s dig in!
What is a Letter of Support for a Grant?
A letter of support for a grant is a testimonial from another person or organization. It serves as a character witness, backing up your claims with tangible evidence that your organization is able to do what you say it can do.
This document is an important part of a grant proposal, and it adds another layer of credibility to your organization’s application. Think of it almost like a letter of reference.
The letter implies that other organizations or funders think your proposal has merit. It signifies that your project has the potential of delivering proposed results. In addition, it provides a compelling and persuasive reason for a funder to support your grant proposal.
A letter of support for a grant is supporting documentation, and it should work in tandem with other parts of your organization’s application, like a letter of inquiry.
A letter of support can make your grant application stand out. It can show just how much potential your organization has with the right funding, perfect for those small to medium sized organizations that are still finding their footing.
Why Do Funders Ask For Letters Of Support In Their RFPs?
Funders like proof that your organization is able to accomplish the goals that you talk about in your cover letter and throughout your application, especially if you’ve been in the game for a shorter amount of time.
After reading your letter of support, funders should be inspired to be part of your mission, vision, and the difference you can make in the world around you.
Your letter boosts your credibility—others are willing to speak on your behalf, providing additional assurance to the grant committee that you walk the talk.
Additionally, many times, the partnership illustrated in the letter can lend additional weight during the application process.
It shows that others are willing to invest in your organization with their time, money, or both.
It also is an excellent indication of the future working relationship funders might have with your organization, should they accept your proposal.
A lot of information can be packed in a letter of support for a grant, so it’s critical that you take the time to leverage it properly.
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Key Components Every Letter of Support Should Include
Writing a letter of support is more of an art form than a science, kind of like when it comes to writing an impactful needs statement. As you consider how to write a letter of support for a grant, there are several elements that should always be included.
Project Endorsement: A clear statement on why the person supports the project, including the formal project title.
Authority of the Supporter: A brief statement on why the person can speak to the subject, including information on the relationship to the organization.
Alignment with Funding Priorities: Information on how the project aligns with the specific grant requirements, complete with specific examples of how the organization has accomplished similar work in the past or plans to do it in the future.
Personal Anecdotes: Following the alignment with funding priorities, include information about how you have personally witnessed the work and why they support it.
Call to Action: Invite the funder to be part of the difference, including any relevant information about why they chose to support it.
Ensure that the letter of support demonstrates a clear alignment between the goals of the grant proposal and the mission, values, and objectives of the supporting organization or individual. Provide concrete evidence and highlight the potential for impact. Personalize the letter and avoid making generic statements without clear alignment with the grant proposal.” - Jacob Chase, CEO Chase Consulting Solutions
Lastly, the letter of support should be written on a formal letterhead or come from an official business email address. This letter of support for a grant example will help lend legitimacy to the note and demonstrate that your organization is ready to grow.
Who Should You Ask For A Letter Of Support?
There are a number of people or organizations that you could ask for a letter of support for a grant. Assess the grant requirements to determine who would be the most impactful.
Collaborators and Partners can speak to what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and how it feels to be a part of the project on a personal level. This is particularly impactful because potential funders will see themselves in these letters.
Community Leaders and Stakeholders can share more about the impact that your project has had or will have in the community. They should inspire funders to be a part of the solution.
Beneficiaries or Clients can demonstrate how it feels to benefit from the project and the difference it makes in their lives.
Local Government Officials can lend formal legitimacy to a project, demonstrating it is important to the local community and has garnered strong support.
Prominent Figures in the Field can illustrate how your project is making waves in the industry and how it caught the attention of industry leaders and other influential people.
Funders or Previous Funders can offer wisdom about why they partnered with you, what you accomplished together, and why they recommend supporting you.
Key Volunteers or Advisors can share a unique view of why they choose to offer their time and expertise with your organization over others.
Prominent Local Businesses can talk about why they support you and how their partnership is beneficial to both organizations.
Foundations or Similar Organizations can speak to the greater need in the industry and how you are uniquely situated to address a specific issue.
Supportive Individuals with Influence can add legitimacy to your application, showing they believe in you and recruiting others in their network to do the same.
At the end of the day, your organization’s letter of support needs to add value to your grant application. It needs to add another dimension to your submission that will help differentiate you from others.
It can be intimidating to ask for a letter of support, so here are some steps you can take to make the process seem more manageable.
Choose Your Targets Carefully
Pick people that you trust and know will speak positively about your organization. The more familiar they are with your project, the more they can speak from the heart.
You want people/orgs who align with the work you are talking about. You want leaders in your community. You want people who are passionate about your org and the work you are doing.” - Amanda Day, Co-owner, HayDay Services
Make a Personal Connection
Leverage actual stories, anecdotes, and data in your ask. You are reaching out to them for a reason, so be sure to make it clear this isn’t a generic ask. A personal touch can go a long way.
Explain Your Project
Be clear about your upcoming project, including its objectives, critical details, projected impact, and more. Share its impact, especially how it addresses a critical need or gap in the field. These details will help inform their letter.
Offer to Draft the Letter
It can be difficult to know how to write a letter of support for a grant, and many individuals or organizations will welcome an initial draft to help ensure the project details are accurate. They’ll review, provide additional feedback, and place it on their letterhead when it’s finalized.
Make it easy and painless for them. Give a sample letter with plug-and-play verbiage that they can quickly revise,” - Teresa Huff, Nonprofit Strategist / Grant Writing Simplified Podcast Host
Set a Deadline
Be generous with the deadline, knowing that this likely isn’t going to be a high priority for them. Make sure it is well before the application deadline to give you some wiggle room.
Thank them for their time, consideration, and partnership. Their support has been critical, and it will help carry you forward as you land your next big grant.
Make sure your ask is authentic and genuine. If you pick right, most people will be honored that you asked and write you the best letter of support for grants they can.
Wrapping Up: Go Win More Funding With Impactful Letters of Support
By now, you should:
Understand the basics of a letter of support.
Know the critical components every letter should include.
Feel comfortable asking someone to write you a letter.
The letter of support for a grant is only one element of the overall application; however, it’s one that adds nuance, dimension, and credibility that can help your organization stand out and grow.