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This post is one of a series about what goes into proposals that win grants. Its topic is cover letters. Its context is the United States of America.


Sometimes an applicant must send a brief cover letter or a letter of transmittal with its proposal – particularly when seeking a grant from a private foundation. Such a letter introduces the proposal to a potential funder. It creates a first impression among those who receive and process proposals and sometimes also among those who read and rank them.




In preparing a compelling and cogent cover letter, be sure to:

  1. Use organizational letterhead
  2. Use the grant maker’s correct and complete address
  3. Address it to a specific person
  4. Insert a reference line before a salutation line
  5. Keep the letter short (one page only)
  6. Use standard margins and a standard 12-point font
  7. Use left-justified text – not center-justified text
  8. Send it from the applicant’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
  9. Send it signed by a human hand and in blue ink, when possible
  10. Include prepared by and enclosure lines below the signature
  11. Proofread it to ensure that it is error-free


In developing the cover letter, use up to four paragraphs to:

  1. Open by describing the organization, community, and target population
  2. Describe the undertaking and two of its major selling points
  3. Explain the reasons for applying for a grant
  4. Close with a thank-you and contact information


In all cases, always follow each specific grant maker’s instructions for a cover letter. If a grant maker does not want to get one, then do not send one. Government grant makers are far less apt to expect, require, or accept a cover letter than are private grant makers.




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