Great letters of commitment don’t just materialize. Getting them takes effort. A desperate, last minute appeal to a partner organization is likely to blow your credibility and bring in a tepid letter committing paper clips rather than cash. The quality of the letters attached to your proposal will directly reflect the quality of your collaborative process, according to Barbara Floersch of the Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles.
Follow these seven steps to secure letters that will carry real weight with funders.
- Bring other organizations into the planning process — those with compatible missions that are concerned about the issue you’re addressing.
- Engage these partners in defining the problem, identifying the best way to improve it, and hammering out the results the program will achieve.
- Work as a group to define the role each partner will play in the program.
- Ask each partner to specify the resources it will contribute and the grant funding it will need to fully play its part.
- Confirm agreements in writing. This will guard against misunderstanding and allow you to sort things out quickly if there’s confusion.
- Ask each partner to give you a letter committing the agreed upon resources to the program. The letter should be on organizational letterhead and signed by the Executive Director and/or board chair.
- Set a deadline for receipt of letters that gives partners no less than one week to prepare them and is at least one week before the deadline for the proposal submission.
Review each letter to ensure that it syncs exactly with the grant proposal. If it’s off track, get it revised.
The care you take in collaboration will pay off. Programs will be more effective, letters of commitment will be impressive, and working relationships between partners who can trust each other will be in place for future projects.