Letters of support can sometimes be one of the only attachments to a grant application allowed so it can be very important to get them right. And I have seen a lot of people get them very wrong.
What are letters of support?
Letters of support are often requested to accompany your grant application. These letters are intended to show the grant assessor a number of things:
- that your project has support from relevant organisations, including organisations that will use the project or are experts in the project topic (e.g. Department of Water for a water-related project) and that you have consulted with these people when planning the project
- evidence that your project is wanted – the need/demand for your project
- evidence that you have a firm commitment from any organisation you claim will provide funding/land/in-kind contributions or anything else to help the project to be delivered
- that the project will deliver the benefits/outcomes you intend because it will actually be used by the people it is intended to benefit
- that there is a lot of wide-ranging support for the project
Letters of support, especially when they come from well regarded individuals and organisations can ensure your application is given some very serious consideration – it shows your reputation is established and lends credibility to your claims.
Who should you get letters of support from?
Compile a list of all the tasks you will undertake to deliver the project and all the benefits the project will deliver and then ask yourself:
- Whose help/permission or approval do I need to complete these tasks and deliver the project?
- Who will benefit from and use the project?
- Which organisation/individual is an expert in this area or is well-regarded by the funding body? (e.g. if the funding body is a State Government department and you are proposing to deliver an agriculture project then you should be asking your State’s Department of Agriculture or another state-run organisation that is an expert in ag. This will add weight to the viability of your project because the ‘experts’ support it.)
These are the people or organisations you need to seek letters of support from. Don’t forget to think about who the funding body might want to hear from for your particular project.
Letters of Request
Once you have a finalised list of contacts from whom you wish to obtain a letter of support, it is time to send a request for a Letter of Support or alternatively organise a meeting so you can explain in detail your project and request a letter.
When sending the request it is vital you include an overview of your organisation (who you are, what you do etc), what the project is you are looking to implement, what the benefits will be to them and the wider community and what grant you will be applying for. You will also need to be clear in your letter of request what you will need them to provide in their Letter of Support.
Some organisations may ask you to draft the letter for them. In this case, do NOT create a standardised template that you use for each letter of support. If every letter says exactly the same thing, the grants assessor will discount the value of those letters – clearly the organisation has just signed a template and doesn’t REALLY support the project.
What needs to be in a letter of support?
Here is a list of things you will want to consider including in a letter of support:
- How the project will be of benefit to them and the community
- Evidence that the project is needed and wanted
- Why the person believes you will be able to deliver the project successfully
- If the organisation is helping with the project, then exactly what they commit to do to help e.g. providing free venue hire, cash support (specify the exact amount), free marketing materials etc – this needs to be specific and not vague.
- Details about the organisation
- Their contact details – name, organisation, position