Who and How—The Best Letter of Support
Many grant makers ask potential grantees to submit Letters of Support as part of the application process. An effective Letter of Support can make an application stand out from the rest. This means that organizations must carefully choose the right person to author a support letter and understand the basic mechanics of producing a successful letter.
The first step is to decide who would be the best candidate to write a Letter of Support. If the application requires a support letter, oftentimes it also states who would be an eligible author. Depending on your organization and the organization you are applying to, eligible authors may vary. Whoever you choose should be someone with necessary and sufficient authority and leverage. Authors could be principals, superintendents, board members, or board directors.
The author of the Letter of Support clearly shows that he or she believes in the project, its necessity and viability, and that it can be successfully implemented. A support letter also reinforces that the grant writer is in good standing with the organization they are applying for, and that they are an active and important part of project development and implementation.
The most effective letters are divided into three main parts: introduction, main body, and conclusion.
As for the tone of voice, support letter authors should use a formal yet personal writing style. Presenting information in a clear, concise manner demonstrates the originality of the application and emphasizes relevance and impact.
The introduction bridges the gap between the applicant and the organization that is endorsing the application. The introduction does not have to be lengthy, but it should address all necessary facts, including the author’s position, organization, and affiliation, as well as the professional relationship to the applicant. It should also focus briefly on the applicant’s position within the organization.
The main body should refer to the proposal in detail, elaborate why the project is necessary and important, and discuss the impact it is intended to have on the recipients. Proposed outcomes are an important part of the body. The more detail about the benefits and the necessity of the project the letter contains, the stronger the chances of receiving funding. School principals or superintendents should focus on how the school, district, and students benefit from the grant project. The body should also mention how the school or district administration will aid in implementing the grant project.
The conclusion should start with a short recap of the endorsement. Why does the author endorse the project and why is the grant so important? It should not be overly repetitive; however, it is helpful to include a restatement of how it will benefit the community or school and why the funder should consider granting the funds to the applicant.