Writing Cover Letters
Federal grants and state grants really don't require cover letters, but it's a nice gesture, even if you suspect they may be tossed in the trash by the person who opens the package. Cover letters are very appropriate for local foundations as this is your opportunity to make a personal link between the board or staff of the foundation and the board or staff of the nonprofit organization.
Start every letter with a “Thank you.” It's a much nicer greeting than “I have enclosed,” because it focuses on the reader rather than the sender.
The cover letter should be signed by the person in the organization who has the closest link to the funder. For instance, if a board member is a close personal friend of a trustee of a family foundation, ask that person to sign the cover letter. If there is no one with a personal link to the foundation, have the letter signed by the CEO or executive director.
Take a look at the sample cover letter below. This organization had previously received a grant from the targeted funder for the same program. Based on evaluation, the organization zeroed in on strategies that worked so they could reduce the cost and present the program for refunding.
City, State, ZIP
Dear Program Officer:
Thank you for reviewing the enclosed three-year proposal for XYZ Nonprofit in city, county, state. The model for this program has been revised recently to build on past strengths of the program and to be responsive to community needs. It now calls for one of two services, which will be selected by the parents: telephone-call support from a trained volunteer, or home visits from a paraprofessional provided by one of the collaborating partners. We have also focused our services on first-time parents of infants and plan to provide consistent prevention services for up to three years of home visits or one year of telephone support.
These changes and others, as I've stated, are based first on what works, and second on cost efficiencies. The new model, like the previous one, will ensure that children develop optimally and that parents develop the skills and access the community resources they need to prevent child abuse and neglect. Services will be offered to approximately 1,800 new families each year.
We are respectfully requesting ABC Foundation support of $1 million over three years, which will be used to leverage other private and public funding to support the program's annual $1.2 million budget.
Please contact me with any questions or to set a time to meet for discussion of the project. Thank you for your attention and time.