Letters Of Support – Done Right
Letters of support can seem like an “add-on” and you may even wonder if they really make a difference. We’re here to say they do.
Quality letters of support can help you get a “yes” verdict on your grant application. Keep reading to find out what makes a letter of support really stand out.
What Is A Letter Of Support?
A letter of support from a partner or supportive organization is their assertion that your organization should be funded. In writing the letter, they’re saying, “If we were the funder, we’d definitely give this organization the money… and here are a few reasons why.”
So, how does a letter of support help?
#1 – It Establishes A Level Of Credibility
Having a strong letter of support from other organizations can build credibility. If others believe this program or project is a good idea, it may just have some merit. Letters of support let a funder know that others recognize the problem you have identified and they agree with the solutions you propose.
A letter of support may also highlight for a funder the role that another organization is going to play within the project. If the partner organization is bringing a new skill set, resource, or specific expertise that your organization does not have, these additional credentials can enhance the overall strength of the application.
In the end, the letter of support can build trust with a funder and make them feel comfortable with their investment.
#2 – It Shows A Community Commitment To The Program
If a number of members of a community are committed to a project, a funder may be more likely to want to invest. In some instances a “lone wolf” organization may hold less appeal.
An organization choosing to work in isolation doesn’t necessarily preclude that organization from getting funding, but letters from other community leaders that speak specifically to their support for a program can certainly solidify the need, importance, and overall worth of the proposed solution.
#3 – It Demonstrates Genuine Collaboration
Beyond a community commitment, a letter of support can show that genuine collaboration exists. In a letter of support, an organization can highlight their specific involvement and show exactly how they plan to be involved in the program.
Giving money to the project, in-kind gifts, steering committee leadership, building space, or administrative support are examples of ways an organization might be willing to collaborate or partner. Making it abundantly clear inside a letter of support what the partnership will look like can help a funder fully understand how multiple organizations will work together to impact their community.
The Key Elements Of A Beneficial Letter Of Support
Not all letters of support are created equal. Here are a few key thoughts to consider when writing or asking someone to write a letter of support.
The Letter Should Be Unique
Templates are a popular approach when it comes to producing letters of support. In many cases, to ensure you get your letter completed in time for the submission of your proposal, and to make life as easy as possible for the writer, organizations will put together a template in advance and ask the partner organization to fill in the blanks. It’s a great way to ensure efficiency, but can detract from the overall effectiveness of the letter of support.
In cases where you may only be looking to receive one letter of support, a template may be a helpful way to go, but if you’re asking for multiple letters, you will want to make sure a funder doesn’t receive five letters that all sound eerily similar.
If you do want to go the way of providing templates, it may mean you have to develop a number of different ones, or it may be that you simply ask the organizations to write their own. Plan to talk to them on the phone or in person and give them some ideas for what they might include and what might be most helpful.
However you decide to handle the process, be sure each of your letters of support have some substance and a one-of-a-kind feel to them. Don’t just pump them out with an assembly line type approach – funders will recognize this and it won’t be helpful.
The Letter Should Relate To The Activities In The Proposal
A letter of support needs to be relevant. If a letter is too vague, a funder may feel like the writer of the letter doesn’t know enough about the program to write with specificity. Make sure your partners understand the program and have some insight on the solution and how it will be carried out.
Provide your partner with a copy of your needs statement and take a few moments to walk through some of the activities. Make some specific decisions about how they will be involved so they can refer to those activities in a definitive way.
The more information your partners have, the easier it will be for them to write helpful letters.
The Letter Should Be From Partners First And Foremost
The best letters of support you will get are from the organizations that are planning to partner with you in very specific ways. Some organizations get letters of support from agencies that think the program is a good idea, but have no intention of collaborating in any tangible way. Those letters are nowhere near as helpful. A funder may wonder, “If this idea is so good, why aren’t you getting involved?”
If you don’t have any partners specifically involved in the program with you, getting support from agencies in the community can be helpful.
The Letter Should Be Clear and Concise
A letter of support should be no more than a page long. A letter of support is not a place to provide more research or to try and make additional points about the virtues of the program. It’s meant to let the funder know why and how a partner will be getting involved.
Want More Information About How To Craft A Letter Of Support? Access Your FREE Template
Letters of support can be a helpful and valuable component to any grant application. To help you write and receive the best letters of support, we’ve put together an outline that provides some insight into what to include.
To gain access to the “Letter of Support Outline Template,” download the document here by providing us with your name and email address. It’s FREE and your email address is safe with us (we won’t be giving it to anyone).