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How to Write Support Letters for Grants Nonprofit

Sep 29, 2023

 Support letters play a pivotal role in the world of nonprofit organizations seeking grants to fund their projects and initiatives. These letters, often known as letters of support or recommendation, serve as a crucial component of grant applications, offering external validation and advocacy for your nonprofit's mission and your proposed research project. Composing effective support letters is not just about formality; it's about compelling storytelling, demonstrating the significance of your work, and building trust with potential funders. In this guide, we will explore the key elements and strategies to craft impactful support letters that can enhance your nonprofit's chances of securing the much-needed financial support for your noble cause.

What Is the Purpose of a Support Letter in a Nonprofit Grant Application?

Support letters are an integral component of nonprofit grant applications, serving several vital purposes. Firstly, they validate and enhance the credibility of the nonprofit's mission and proposed project. When respected individuals or organizations endorse your cause, it bolsters the legitimacy of your application. Secondly, support letters function as advocacy tools, allowing proponents of your work to express their genuine support and enthusiasm. These letters demonstrate community involvement, showcasing your nonprofit's connections and support within the community. Moreover, they provide a platform to highlight the potential impact of your project, using real-world examples to illustrate its significance. Support letters also play a pivotal role in crafting a compelling and persuasive reason narrative, emphasizing the urgency and importance of your mission. Lastly, they help build trust with grantmakers by showcasing external validation and compliance with application requirements. In sum, support letters contribute significantly to the overall appeal and effectiveness of a nonprofit grant application.

Who Should Write Support Letters for Nonprofit Grants?

Support letters for nonprofit grants should ideally come from individuals or organizations with a genuine connection to your nonprofit's mission and the specific project or initiative for which you are seeking funding. Here are some key stakeholders who can write effective support letters:

1. Board Members: Members of your nonprofit's board of directors are often well-positioned to write support letters. They are typically deeply involved in the organization's activities and can provide valuable insights into its mission and impact.

2. Community Leaders: Local community leaders, elected officials, or prominent figures in the area where your nonprofit operates can lend credibility and influence to your grant application.

3. Beneficiaries or Clients: Individuals or groups who have directly benefited from your nonprofit granting agency's services can provide powerful testimonials about the impact of your work on their lives or communities.

4. Partner Organizations: Collaborating nonprofits, government agencies, or other entities that have partnered with your organization on projects can write support letters, emphasizing the value of your collaborations.

5. Donors or Funders: If you have received previous funding from individuals or foundations, ask them to write support letters. Their endorsement can demonstrate a history of successful grant management and responsible use of funds.

6. Experts in the Field: Subject matter experts or professionals in the field related to your nonprofit's mission can write letters that validate the importance and effectiveness of your work.

7. Volunteers or Volunteers' Family: Volunteers who have dedicated their time and effort to your organization can speak to their firsthand experiences and dedication, demonstrating the community's commitment to your cause.

8. Clients' Family Members: Family members of individuals who have benefited from your services may also provide heartfelt testimonials and insights into the impact of your work.

When selecting individuals or organizations to write support letters, consider their reputation, influence, and their ability to provide a compelling and genuine endorsement of your nonprofit's mission and the specific research project for which you are seeking funding. Ensure that their letters align with the goals and values of your organization and that they can speak to the impact of your work in a meaningful way.

What Information Should Be Included in a Support Letter?

A well-crafted support letter for a nonprofit grant application should contain specific information to make a compelling case for your organization and project. Here's what should be included:

1. Introduction and Relationship: Begin by introducing yourself or your organization and explaining your personal relationship with the nonprofit. State the purpose of the letter, which is to express support for their grant application.

2. Brief Background: Provide a brief background of your organization, including its mission and the work it does. Explain why you are familiar with the nonprofit and its initiatives.

3. Project Description: Describe the specific project, research proposal, or initiative for which the grant is sought. Highlight its objectives, expected outcomes, and its relevance to the community or cause it serves.

4. Impact: Emphasize the positive impact that the nonprofit's work has had on the community or individuals. Share specific stories, data, or examples that illustrate the difference they or other resources have made.

5. Why Support Is Critical: Explain why you believe the research project is essential and deserving of funding. Discuss the unique qualities or approaches that set the nonprofit apart and why it should be supported.

6. Personal Connection: Share your personal connection or motivation for supporting the nonprofit. What inspired you to get involved with partner organization or support their cause? Make it genuine and heartfelt.

7. Community Benefits: Discuss how the funding agency the project will benefit the community, region, or cause at large. Highlight the broader implications of the funding for the betterment of society.

8. Commitment: Express your commitment to the success of the project and your willingness to continue supporting the nonprofit in its endeavors.

9. Contact Information: Provide your contact information, including your name, title, organization (if applicable), phone number, and email address. This allows grant reviewers to verify your authenticity if needed.

10. Closing and Signature: Conclude the letter with a closing statement expressing your continued support and a sincere signature.

Remember that a well-written support letter should be concise, clear, and passionate. It should effectively convey your belief in the nonprofit's mission and the significance of the project. Tailor the letter to align with the nonprofit's goals and values, and ensure that it enhances the overall narrative of your grant application.

What Common Mistakes Should Nonprofits Avoid in Support Letters?

Nonprofits should be cautious to avoid common mistakes when soliciting and including support letters in their grant applications. These errors can weaken the impact of the letters and, in turn, the overall grant proposal. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

1. Generic Letters: Using generic, one-size-fits-all support letters that lack specificity and personalization. Each support letter should be tailored to the recipient and the project.

2. Lack of Authenticity: Including letters from individuals or organizations who do not genuinely support the nonprofit or its mission. It's essential that the endorsements are sincere and heartfelt.

3. Unclear or Vague Content: Writing letters that lack clarity and specific details about the impact of the nonprofit's work or the importance of the project. Vague endorsements can be less persuasive.

4. Overemphasizing Emotional Appeals: While emotion is important, relying solely on emotional appeals without providing concrete evidence of the nonprofit's effectiveness or the project's feasibility can weaken the letter.

5. Exaggeration or Misrepresentation: Avoid making exaggerated claims or misrepresenting facts in support letters. Honesty and accuracy are crucial for maintaining trust with grantmakers.

6. Lengthy Letters: Support letters that are overly long may lose the reader's attention. Aim for concise and focused letters that get to the key points efficiently.

7. Inadequate Contact Information: Failing to provide complete and accurate contact information for the letter writer can make it difficult for grant reviewers to verify the authenticity of the endorsements.

8. Ignoring Grant Guidelines: Not following the specific guidelines provided by the grantmaker regarding the format, number of support letters, or any other requirements can result in the rejection of the application.

9. Late or Missing Letters: Waiting until the last minute to request support letters or failing to include them in the application can lead to disqualification or reduced competitiveness.

10. Repetition: Repeating the same points or anecdotes in multiple support letters can be redundant and may not add value to the application.

11. Lack of Diversity: Having all support letters from similar sources or failing to include a diverse range of perspectives can limit the overall impact of the endorsements.

12. Failure to Address Potential Concerns: If there are any potential concerns or challenges related to the project, not addressing them in the support letters can leave reviewers with unanswered questions.

To avoid these common mistakes, nonprofits should carefully plan their support letter solicitation process, ensure that endorsers are genuinely aligned with their mission, and provide clear guidance to letter writers. Additionally, reviewing each support letter to confirm its alignment with the nonprofit's goals and the grant application's requirements is essential for a successful grant proposal.

What Are Some Examples of Effective Nonprofit Support Letters?

Effective nonprofit support letters can vary widely in content and style, but they all share common traits that make them compelling and persuasive. Here are a few examples of support letters that illustrate these traits:

1. Personal Testimonial Letter:

In this letter, a beneficiary of the nonprofit's services shares a personal story of how the organization has made a significant impact on their life. The letter is heartfelt, specific, and emphasizes the life-changing nature of the nonprofit's work.

"Dear [Nonprofit Name],

I wanted to take a moment to express my deepest gratitude for the support and guidance your organization has provided me. When I first walked through your doors [mention specific time], I was struggling and felt lost. But thanks to your dedicated team, I found a path forward.

[Share your personal story and highlight the key moments or experiences that were most impactful.]

The work you do goes beyond just helping individuals; you are transforming lives, giving people like me a second chance. I wholeheartedly support your grant application and hope that others can experience the same life-changing opportunities I have.


[Your Name]"

2. Community Leader Endorsement:

In this letter, a respected community leader or local official expresses support for the nonprofit's mission and project, emphasizing its importance to the community.

"To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing to wholeheartedly endorse [Nonprofit Name] and their remarkable work in our community. As [Your Title] of [Your Organization], I have had the privilege of witnessing the positive impact they have on the lives of our residents.

[Discuss the specific ways in which the nonprofit has contributed to the community and its residents.]

[Nonprofit Name] is not just an organization; it's a cornerstone of our community, and their proposed project [mention the project] is a vital step towards creating positive change.

I strongly support their grant application and believe that investing in their mission is an investment in the well-being of our community.


[Your Name]"

3. Donor's Endorsement:

In this letter, a past donor shares their positive experience with the nonprofit and its responsible use of funds, reinforcing their confidence in the organization's ability to manage additional grant funding.

"Dear [Grant Reviewer],

It is with great pleasure that I write to express my unwavering support for [Nonprofit Name]. As a donor who has supported their work for several years, I have witnessed firsthand the dedication and impact of this remarkable organization.

[Share your experiences as a donor, highlighting the effective use of funds and the outcomes achieved.]

I firmly believe that [Nonprofit Name] is an exemplary steward of resources, and I have full confidence in their ability to maximize the impact of any grant funding they receive.

I urge you to consider their grant application with the same enthusiasm and confidence that I do.


[Your Name]


These are just a few examples of effective nonprofit support letters. The key is to personalize the content, make it specific, heartfelt, and aligned with the organization's mission and the grant application's goals.

Are There Any Tips for Writing Support Letters in a Digital World?

Certainly! Here are five tips for writing support letters in a digital world:

1. Use a Professional Email Format

When sending support letters via email, use a professional email format. Ensure your email address is appropriate, and use a clear subject line that mentions the purpose of the email, such as "Support Letter for [Nonprofit Name]'s Grant Application."

2. Attach a Well-Formatted PDF

Save the support letter as a PDF document to preserve formatting and ensure it's easily accessible on various devices and platforms. Attach the PDF to the email and mention it in the email body.

3. Personalize Your Message

In the email body, provide a personalized introduction and context for the support letter. Address the recipient by name, express your connection to the nonprofit, and briefly explain the purpose of the letter.

4. Mobile-Friendly Formatting

Ensure that both the email and the attached support letter are mobile-friendly. Many people read emails on mobile devices, so formatting should be clear and easy to read on smaller screens.

5. Follow-Up and Confirmation

After sending the email with the support letter, consider sending a polite follow-up email if you don't receive a response within a reasonable time. You can also request a read receipt or confirmation of email delivery to ensure the recipient has received the letter.

By following these tips, you can effectively write and deliver support letters in a digital world, making the process efficient and professional.


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