What Are Grant Letters of Support?

Definition and Examples of Grant Letters of Support

Non-profit founders discuss grant letters of support
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Grant letters of support are testimonials in favor of a nonprofit from donors, partners, or people served by the nonprofit. Nonprofits can include these testimonials with fundraising letters, in cases for support, and in annual reports.

Keep reading to learn what makes a letter of support successful, how to get one for your organization, and how these letters compare to a memorandum of agreement.

What Is a Letter of Support?

A letter of support is an outside testimonial that backs up a nonprofit's claims of success and promises to deliver. Letters of support usually accompany a proposal or application for grant funds. These testimonials show that other people, businesses, and organizations believe that the nonprofit can get the job done.

A letter of support can come from a partner organization, a major donor, another foundation, a congressional representative, an outside business, or a key stakeholder. A support letter might be from community leaders who believe in your program, or it might be from people who will receive the services you propose providing.

Letters of support may include a commitment to help the project. This type of letter might indicate that a certain business not only supports a nonprofit, but it wants to provide a gift-in-kind to support the project. A donor could use their letter of support to commit a specific amount of money to the project. A business's letter of support could include a pledge to loan pro bono volunteers to your project.

How a Letter of Support Works

A letter of support won't necessarily clinch an award, but it could make your grant proposal more competitive, especially when the letter comes from high-level individuals or organizations.

A letter of support shows that others think your proposal has merit. It can signal that your organization enjoys an excellent reputation and that your community supports your work. It provides a compelling and persuasive reason why a funder would want to support your grant application or proposal.

The best letters of support describe how a partner will support the project as applicable. It should convey enthusiasm for the project and lend credibility to your work.

The foundation or government agency offering grants will be impressed by letters of support, commitment, or partnership. The more you can demonstrate that the funder won't be alone in supporting your work, the better your proposal will be received.

Including Letters of Support in Your Grant Proposal 

Before you submit a grant proposal, make a list of people or organizations that will benefit from your proposed project. Set up meetings so you can explain in detail what the project will be, and ask if they would be willing to write a letter of support to help you get the funding you need.

The details of your project should explain the benefits to them and their community. If they agree, provide a draft of a letter that they can use. Ask them to send the letter to you by a particular date so you can include them with your grant application.

If the person or organization would prefer to write their own letter of support, you can instead provide vital information in bullet points or short paragraphs to make it easier to write a great recommendation. Examples of helpful information might include:

  • A summary of the project the grant will fund
  • How the project meshes with the interests of the funder
  • Examples of how the grant will help your organization fulfill its mission
  • Excerpts from a previous letter of support that worked well
  • The person or organization receiving the letter

Encourage the writer to avoid generic and vague salutations like "To whom it may concern." Provide specific names and, if it applies, a grant application number.

Letter of Support vs. Memorandum of Agreement

Letter of Support vs. Memorandum of Agreement
Letter of Support Memorandum of Agreement
May accompany a grant proposal or application May accompany a grant proposal or application
Statement of ideological support Outlines expectations for material support
Intended for a potential grantor Intended for potential grantors, as well as the partnering organizations
May or may not be a memorandum of agreement Can always work as a letter of support

Letters of support frequently come from other organizations that have agreed to be a partner for the project your group is offering. Sometimes this type of support letter takes the form of a formal partnership agreement or a memorandum of agreement (MOA). Some grantmakers may even require an organization to have an MOA with a partner group.

If you plan to work closely with another group on a project, the terms of the partnership should be clearly spelled out in writing. The MOA should describe a cooperative relationship between two organizations, in addition to detailing how you'll use the funds from a potential grantmaker.

Details to include in an MOA include a description of roles, responsibilities, terms, and the details of the partnership on which both parties agree. It should be signed by authorized representatives of both organizations. Submit it with your proposal or application for a government or foundation grant.

Key Takeaways

  • Grant letters of support are testimonials on behalf of an organization written by that organization's previous donors, partners, or people served by the organization.
  • Some grantors may require letters of support before grant money can be distributed.
  • A letter of support can also be a memorandum of agreement, which outlines how two groups will work together on a project.