Grant Guru Tip #37: Letters of Support

Well-planned partnerships lead to excellent program results. Partnerships take time to develop and must be nourished and tended. For a partnership to be valuable, both parties must prosper. Look for ways to meaningfully involve your partners and jointly celebrate your successes. Existing partnerships are valuable at the time you seek grant funds. Larger grants want to see an appendix that may ask you to include letters of support. In your narrative and in your budget, you may make reference to a specific partner and what they will bring to your grant implementation. These citations in your proposal need to have a letter of support that speak directly to what your partner will provide. A partner may provide a variety of ways that will enrich your program, for examples: guidance through serving on an advisory council; specific resources such as hardware, software, or office supplies; office space; expert consultants; training or perhaps desktop publishing services. You often must assist your partner in preparing the letter of support. The letter should be written on letterhead, signed with an original signature and should contain three major points. First, the letter should confirm support for the proposed project. Second, describe the nature of your partnership. Has the partnership been recently formed or has it been existence for many years? What benefits do each of the collaborating partners gain by being a part of the partnership? Third, the letter should describe the kind of support, if it is cash, what amount? If it is a product or service, what is the actual value? Work far enough in advance so that you do not have to attach a faxed letter of support. The letter of support is read and scored as part of the entire grant evaluation process. The common sense test applies; will the described partnership enhance the project and provide the grantee with a good chance of project success? With a simple web search, you will find examples of partnership letters for many grant projects. In addition to letters of support from new or existing partners, it is not unusual to also include letters of support from community leaders that further enhance the validity of your program need. Describing ways that others in the community are willing to support the project provides the reader with additional assurance that your plan is well thought out. In asking others for letters of support, I like to meet with my collaborators face-to-face. I bring an abstract of what I am attempting to do and solicit their input and possible support. If a potential partner/collaborator is willing to assist, then I ask for the formal letter of support, not to exceed one page. I often give the collaborator a tip sheet for completing the letter. These include items such as the content, time constraints and format of the letter. I spell out the content by asking the partner to include the confirmation of support, description of the partnership, and the specific level of support (goods or services). Their commitments must be directly linked to the narrative in the proposal and in the program budget. I provide the letter writer with the name and address of whom the letter should be addressed. I ask that it go on letterhead; that it be more specific than generic; and I ask for an original signature. I arrange for the letter to be mailed to me in time for me to include it in my proposal and I provide a large envelope with postage. If time is tight, I ask when I can pick up the letter. Take the lead early in your grant process. A letter of support is not difficult to do; it is however, just one more thing for both you and your potential partner to do. How many letters do you need? You should get a letter of support from every formal partner and any organization that you have identified as a collaborator. Letters that provide support are often extraneous and you can attach them to your proposal as you see fit. In all cases, you must check the request for proposal instructions carefully and follow the page limits for attachments. For federal grants, letters of support from you local congressional representatives may or may not be appropriate. Meet with one of your representative’s field personnel to determine if this is feasible for your particular project.