3 points for your letters of commitment

September 23, 2014       The NonProfit Times      

A rah-rah letter expressing vague support that won’t contribute to the program’s success won’t strengthen your grant proposal. A funder’s reaction is likely to be, “So what?”

According to Barbara Floersch, director of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, Calif., the letters you attach to grant proposals must sync exactly with the proposal and be submitted by people in a position to commit the resources offered. These letters carry real weight.

Here are three key points to remember when gathering the letters you need.

* Give partners at least a full week to provide the letter. You can’t expect a one-day turnaround. People are busy.

* Set the deadline for receipt of letters a week before the deadline for submission of the grant proposal. Even with committed partners, when it comes to letters there will always be stragglers.

Sometimes a partner will submit a letter that’s off track or that leaves out a major commitment detailed in the proposal. You can’t submit that. You’ll have to speak with the partner and get a revised letter.

It’s okay to draft letters for partners, but make each unique. Do not use template letters that are all the same except for the descriptions of the commitments. Template letters don’t demonstrate enthusiasm, and they raise questions about partners’ commitments.

* Request letters as soon as the program plan and budget are set. From start to finish, requesting and securing spot-on letters can take two to three weeks. Work this into your timeline.