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:
- Use organizational letterhead
- Use the grant maker’s correct and complete address
- Address it to a specific person
- Insert a reference line before a salutation line
- Keep the letter short (one page only)
- Use standard margins and a standard 12-point font
- Use left-justified text – not center-justified text
- Send it from the applicant’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
- Send it signed by a human hand and in blue ink, when possible
- Include prepared by and enclosure lines below the signature
- Proofread it to ensure that it is error-free
In developing the cover letter, use up to four paragraphs to:
- Open by describing the organization, community, and target population
- Describe the undertaking and two of its major selling points
- Explain the reasons for applying for a grant
- 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.