This is the second of a two-part series — This article will explain how to actually write a ‘Letter of Support’ for another organisation to include with their grant application.
The first article in the series, “Requesting a ‘Letter of Support’ for a Grant Application” explains how to ask other Community Groups, Businesses and other Partners, for a ‘Letter of Support’ for a project to show to grant providers that other groups will also benefit from your project receiving funding.
Why you might be asked to write a ‘Letter of Support’
Many grant and funding providers now try and get the ‘biggest bang for their buck’ so they look for projects that can assist or benefit many different groups, various demographics and not just a single entity.
By having multiple entities express support for a particular project shows the grant provider that more than one group in the community may benefit from the funding of the project. It also shows that the applicant and the actual project does actually have support of a larger number of people.
Some Letters of Support may also be used to show that a landlords’ permission has been sought and obtained; or that local council or other relevant authorities have also been advised of a project and their permission or support is granted. Often these ‘permission approvals’ need to be completed on a specific form supplied by the Grant Provider.
What to include in a Letter of Support
Always write a Letter of Support on your organisation’s formal letterhead…
NEVER write it as an email!!!
and especially do NOT write it as a direct reply to the original email request.
- Full LEGAL name of your organisation
This seems obvious, but many organisations abbreviate their “name” and they shouldn’t. If your legal name, as listed on your Certificate of Incorporation, is “Dragon Breeders and Trainers of Fairyland Inc” then list it as such and NOT just a shortened version (eg “Dragon Breeders of Fairyland”) that you may use in day to day discussions
- Organisation’s Logo
Ensure you have a high-quality version of the logo and that you are using the proper version
- ABN and/or Incorporation Number
If you have both, list both. If you only have an Incorporation Number, list that. It allows others to easily look your group up with ASIC and verify your group’s status
- Website Address (or Facebook Page URL)
ALWAYS list your website in your letterhead — this is where others can find out more about your organisation. Ideally you’ll have your own domain and website, but an active Facebook page that is publicly visible can suffice in many circumstances.
- Postal Address
List the association’s PO Box if you have one, otherwise it should be the address registered with Fair Trading (usually your Public Officer’s address)
- Primary Telephone Number
List the phone number you normally give out for the organisation (often the Secretary’s mobile if you don’t have a dedicated number)
- Primary Email Address
List the main email address for the organisation eg firstname.lastname@example.org. As with the website having your own domain is better, but if you don’t then a gmail.com address with your organisation name can suffice eg email@example.com
Date, Addressed to, and Subject
Insert the date at the top of the letter… I use a long format like April 10, 2020 so there can be no confusion (It’s so annoying trying to translate 10/04/2020 — if that’s written by an American that date converts to October 4th. Virtually anywhere else that is 10th of April.)
Next address the Letter of Support as per the directions received from organisation submitting the grant.
Usually it will be addressed to the President or Secretary of the organisation submitting the grant application. Occasionally, it may need to be addressed directly to Grant Provider (but you would still normally supply the letter to the applicant for them to include in their application). In rare circumstances it may be as simple as addressing it as “To whom it may concern” — but ONLY do this as a last resort!
After the address include a single line referencing the reason for the Letter, using the supplied Project Name – basically a “Re: Grant Application for new Dragon Breeding Cages”
I tend to list the project name rather than the specific grant name (this way it can easily be resubmitted to another funding channel if the first grant is unsuccessful) — UNLESS you’ve specifically been asked to reference the actual grant eg “re: Westros Development Fund Round 23 — Dragon Breeding Cages”
October 31, 2020
Mr Mushu Ghidorah
Dragon Breeders and Trainers of Fairyland Inc
151 Kirkham Road Camelot NSW 2011
RE: Grant Application for new Dragon Breeding Cages
Note that I put the address on a single line… and I didn’t worry about a Dear John (or Dear Mr Smith) — if space is tight and you’re trying to keep the Letter on a single page, these can be simple ways of getting a few extra lines back.
Alternatively if you are trying space the Letter out a little, add the Dear line and spilt the address over two lines (with Suburb, State and Postcode on the second line).
Introduction about your organisation
The first paragraph should be a very brief introduction to your organisation — It should be NO MORE than 30-50 words long and only contain two or three sentences.
It should simply establish your organisation’s credibility and relevance to the project. It does not need to explain every aspect of your organisation — that’s what your website is for!
The Society of WereWolf Protection was founded in 626AD to protect the misunderstood changelings, commonly referred to as Werewolves. Since this time we have seen the werewolf population steady grow over the generations, but we have much work still ahead of us to see werewolves fully accepted amongst regular society.
Why you support the project
This is the most important part of the Letter of Support!
The next couple of paragraphs should explain why your organisation supports this particular project.
It maybe that your organisation can utilise the cages when Dragon Breeding Season is not happening, or you see a need for more dragons to be bred each year so they can help protect your castle’s treasure room, so having more dragons born each year would help your organisation.
We fully support the Dragon Breeders project of building new Dragon Breeding cages in the aeries of Camelot Castle.
During the spring months, which is breeding season for werewolves, we welcome your offer to allow us access to these nests so our pack mothers have a warm and safe place to raise their cubs during those early, formative months.
If your organisation is contributing in any way towards the project, be sure to mention that — If you are providing in kind support (a discount on goods supplied, or volunteering time and labour to assist with the project) or if you are providing a co-contribution towards the project (ie your organisation has provided $5,000 cash towards the project) mention this.
Grant providers are looking at getting the best value out of the funding they provide — so the more community groups, local residents and others can directly benefit from a single project, the better — so if your organisation will benefit from the proposed project getting funded, clearly explain how and why it will benefit your own group.
Wish the grant applicant well
At the end of the Letter, usually as the second last paragraph you may wish the grant application all the best with their application to highlight the fact you understand that the grant applicant is actually seeking external funding for their project. If space is tight on the page, this paragraph can be dropped, or reduced to a single line of “We wish you well with your funding application”.
On behalf of the Society for Werewolf Protection, we wish Dragon Breeders and Trainers of Fairyland all the best with your application for funding to purchase new breeding cages and we look forward to seeing your dragon population grow in the coming decades.
Direct contact details
If the author of the letter can’t be contacted directly using the details in the Letterhead, or are only available during certain times, then include a single sentence listing the best method to be contacted and suitable times (remembering that processing of the grant application and any follow up regarding it may not occur for up to six months after the you’ve written the letter).
An example could be
“Should further information be required, I may be contacted directly on 0400 666 666. I am usually available between 8am and 1pm most week days.
Signature and Title
The final segment of the letter should include a complementary close, your signature and your title/position within the organisation.
If the letter is addressed to “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To whom it may concern” then use “Yours faithfully,” as your complementary close.
If it was addressed to a personal name eg “Dear Mr Smith” or “Dear James” then you should use “Yours sincerely,”
Australians (along with Britain and most Commonwealth countries) usually put the Yours first, but you’ll often see Americans place the Yours after the faithfully or sincerely eg “Faithfully yours,” — neither style is wrong but putting the Yours first reads better to Australians.
Next, you need to sign the letter.
Ideally you should have a ‘real signature’ — either scanned in as an image from a real signature or drawn using a mouse, touchpad or stylus on a computer or tablet.
Mac users can create a graphic version of their signature from inside Preview (an app for reading and basic editing of PDFs and images that is included with Mac OS). It is accessed from the Tools Menu → Annotate → Signature.
If scanning a physical copy from paper, be sure to;
- Use a black pen with at least 1mm tip but no more than 2mm (eg a ‘sharpie‘ is ideal)
- Make the signature at least 2.5cm (1-inch) tall
- Use a light blue or light green sheet of paper, if you have access to it; otherwise use an ‘ultra-white’ sheet
- Crop the scanned signature so there is minimal white space around it
- Using a good graphic application create an ‘Alpha-background’ or ‘Transparency’ around the outside of the signature AND in the spaces inside the characters (This is why we recommended the light blue or green paper — so you can see which areas have been made transparent)
- Save the edited signature as a .PDF or .PNG WITH a Transparent background
You can now insert the signature into your document and if you have the transparent background, it can even be overlapped on top of printed name and title, just like a physical letter.
Alternatively, it is becoming more common these days to just use a font that resembles cursive handwriting to create a signature for electronic documents.
There are a number of ‘handwriting script’ fonts included with Windows and Microsoft Office that could substitute for a signature, including Bradley Hand ITC, Brush Script MT, Lucida Handwriting, Freestyle Script, Mistral, Palace Script MT, Rage Italic, and Vivaldi. Mac users will have the same fonts available if they have installed Microsoft Office or there are similar fonts included with Mac OS.
Pick one and stay with it for all your future ‘signatures’
After your signature, list your name and then on the next line list the title (or position) you hold with your organisation, followed by a comma and your organisation’s name.
President, Society for Werewolf Protection Inc
Unless otherwise advised, the Letter of Support should always be supplied as a PDF. This ensures no changes can be made to the document and that the formatting of the document layout remains intact.
Remember not everyone uses Microsoft Word and even different versions of Word can display the layout differently on a different computer. Likewise, fonts you used may not be available on someone else’s system.
The Letter of Support should be a minimum of half a page long (including letterhead) but ideally no longer than a single page. There are always exceptions to this rule, but 95% of the time a single page is sufficient and any longer can actually have a negative effect.
Some tips for helping make the letter fit on a single page;
- Re-word paragraphs to make them shorter — This is the BEST option
- Remove ‘blank lines’ from in between paragraphs and set the Spacing Before or After Paragraph to 8 or 9pts (never go below 5pts)
- Reduce line spacing to 0.9 lines (never go lower)
- Reduce the font size (but never go below 11pt for your main body text)
- Change page margins (don’t go below 1.2cm, or ½-inch)
- If your ‘corporate identity standards‘ lets you, reduce your letterhead — if your logo is more than 3cm tall, can it be reduced???
ALWAYS keep a copy of the Letter of Support… both as the original wordpressing document (eg Microsoft Word, Apple Pages or Google Doc) and as the PDF you sent.
Usually, it would need to be presented at your next Committee Meeting and minuted as “Outbound Correspondence” as it was written on organisational letterhead and written on behalf of the organisation.
You can also refer back to it later if you need to write another ‘Letter of Support’ for someone else — you can then simply copy and paste relevant segments into the new letter.
Occasionally the organisation that requested the Letter may come back to you for an updated version (often just with a new date or perhaps addressed to a different funding provider) so they can submit the same project to another grant so you can then quickly and easily supply the new version. BTW: Most grant providers and assessors will usually accept a Letter of Support (and other documentation) that is six, or even 12-months, old — but read the individual grant guidelines!
Don’t be afraid to say “NO!” to a request for a Letter of Support!
Hopefully, you won’t need to say “No” to a request for a Letter of Support, but occasionally you may need to politely decline such a request.
The project in question may not align with your own organisational goals; or you may just feel you can’t provide a quality letter for this particular project.
Sometimes, you may not have the time to write the Letter of Support before the deadline — you might be writing your own application for the same grant but for a very different project, or the appropriate authorised person who would need to sign the letter on behalf your organisation (eg the President) is on leave and won’t be back until after the deadline.
As mentioned, politely decline, and if possible, give a quick explanation why you can’t supply a Letter of Support. Just be up front and honest as to why you can’t/won’t supply a Letter of Support and if it is just this project that you can’t supply a Letter, or if it is a general policy.
Example of a Letter of Support
This article is part of a two-part series on Letters of Support for Grant Applications.
Part 1: Requesting a ‘Letter of Support’ for a Grant Application
Part 2: Writing a ‘Letter of Support’ for a Grant Application [This Article]