What Are Letters of Support, Commitment, and Memoranda of Agreement?

How to Make Your Grant Proposal Even Stronger

Non-profit founders shaking hands with a man who agreed to write a letter of support for their grant proposal.
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Testimonials from other donors or from the people your nonprofit serves can be a powerful influence when you're asking for funds. You can include these testimonials with your fundraising letters, in your cases for support, and in your annual reports. Third-party testimonials work just as effectively for grant proposals.

These testimonials show that other people, businesses, and organizations believe that you can get the job done. A letter of support can come from a partner organization, a major donor, another foundation, a congressional representative, or even a business or key stakeholders. A support letter might be from community leaders who believe in your program or people who will receive the services you propose.

How Letters of Support Can Help 

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

It 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.

Letters of support usually accompany a proposal or application for grant funds.

Including Letters in Your Grant Proposal 

Before you submit a grant proposal, make a list of people or organizations that will benefit from your proposed project. Contact them, preferably in person, and ask if they would be willing to write a letter of support to help you get the funding you need.

Give them the details of your project and explain the benefits to them and to 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, give them vital information 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, such as the foundation you've approached.
  • Examples of how the grant will help your organization fulfill its mission.
  • To whom the letter should be addressed, such as a particular person or the official name of the funder. Encourage the writer to avoid generic and vague salutations like "To whom it concerns". Provide a grant application number if that applies.
  • Offer a sample of a previous letter of recommendation that worked well.

What Is a Letter of Commitment?

Letters of support can also be letters of commitment. This type of letter might indicate that a certain business wants to provide a gift-in-kind to support your project or that a donor plans to commit a specific amount of money to the project. It could even involve a pledge from a business to loan pro bono volunteers to your project. 

Make a list of businesses or organizations that might be willing to commit some resources to your project. Set up meetings so you can explain in detail what the project will be and ask for a particular contribution. Provide a draft letter and request that it be returned in time to include it with your grant application.

Letters of support are frequently 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 that some grantmakers now require.

What Is a Memorandum of Agreement?

The arrangement must be spelled out in writing if you plan to partner with another nonprofit, either in a letter of support or what's called an interagency agreement or a memorandum of agreement. These agreements should explain how the project will be carried out and how you'll use the funds from the grantmaker.

The memorandum of agreement should describe a cooperative relationship between two organizations. It should 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.

The foundation or government agency that you apply to 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.