How to gather great letters of support for your grant
if your letter of support doesn't actually offer any support, it's not a letter of support. It's just a letter.
Words by Samantha Morris

If you’re submitting a grant application and you need letters of support, here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • if your letter of support doesn’t actually offer any support, it’s not a letter of support. It’s just a letter.
  • Challenge your supporters to make a commitment in their letter. It doesn’t have to cost them money. For example “while we’re not in the position to support this project financially, we are looking forward to sending our team along to the event to lend a hand as volunteers and we will also promote the event in our newsletter which has a distribution of 2000 people.”
  • if your letter is written To Whom it May Concern, help drag the writer out of the dark ages. The letter can actually be addressed to you. It is a letter of support for your project after all.
  • make sure your letter writers actually write a few lines about the project they are supporting and why they’re behind you. This concept of offering ‘in principle’ support is getting a bit boring. Either someone supports your project or they don’t. Somewhere in the letter, they should be explaining why they want to see your project get off the ground, what’s in it for them and what the benefits will be to stakeholders of both of your organisations.
  • always give your support letter writers at least two week’s notice for writing a good letter. Even better, write it yourself.

Letters of support add great weight to a grant application – if they’re written mindfully. They help extend the story you’re telling in your own submission. Don’t waste that opportunity. If you have to submit three letters of support, make sure they’re good ones!

Of course there are things you, as a grant writer, can do to enhance the letters you receive off your supporters.

  • Have a solid plan and let people know what it is. Be specific. Send them a one-pager or a copy of your application so they know exactly what it is they’re supporting.
  • Give them the name of the funding body or the funding program so they can include this in the letter.
  • Of course, if you’ve genuinely engaged your partners they shouldn’t be surprised to hear about the project or to be asked to write a support letter
  • By all means, provide your partners with a draft letter of support they can personalise but bear in mind if you send the same template letter to every partner you may well get three or four identical letters to support your application. And that’s probably not worth much in terms of adding weight to your submission.
  • Return the favour! Be sure to write great letters of support for your partners when they ask the same.