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How to Construct a Corporate Grant Request Letter

First and foremost, keep your corporate grant request letter to one page maximum, not including your attached supporting documentation (description of equipment, project budget, and so on). Corporations don’t have the time to read cumbersome or lengthy requests. Also, make sure you use your organization’s letterhead and that the letterhead includes your organization’s name, address, telephone and fax numbers, e-mail address, and website address.

The following steps explain how to construct your letter and what it should contain:

  1. Record the date.

    Use the current date if you’re mailing or e-mailing the letter immediately; otherwise, postdate your letter to match the actual mailing date. If you stagger the mailing for multiple letters, be sure to change the date on each letter before mailing it.

    Give the corporation plenty of time to respond to your request. Send your letter three to six months before you need the item or money so the corporation has enough time to consider your request.

  2. If you’re mailing a letter rather than e-mailing one, write the opening address for the letter’s recipient, including his name, job title, the company’s name, and the complete mailing address.

    Be sure to use the correct personal title (Ms., Mr., Messrs., and so on) or professional title (Dr., the Honorable, and so on). Call or e-mail the company to double-check the gender of the contact person, the proper job title, and the company’s current mailing address.

  3. Use a professional salutation before the recipient’s title and surname.

    Most use the word Dear. If you know the recipient personally, you can use his first name after the salutation, rather than the more formal title and last name. Because this letter is business correspondence, follow the salutation with a colon, not a comma.

  4. Start your letter with three bulleted introductory sentences.

    One approach to these initial bullets is opening with accurate, startling facts about your target population or the beneficiaries of the goods or services you’re requesting. Another approach is to try stirring the memory of the reader and quickly connecting him to a past event that he or a loved one experienced personally. If you go this route, make sure the memory-jogger starts out sad but ends happily.

  5. Introduce your nonprofit organization in the next few sentences.

    You don’t have to include your organization’s geographic location because that info is elsewhere in your letter. However, you do need to share your organization’s structure (nonprofit, membership association, or private operating foundation) and target population.

  6. State your problem in the next few sentences.

    Tell the recipient what’s wrong at your organization that requires you to seek outside funding support, equipment, supplies, or consulting assistance. Give sufficient information on the problem to answer all the recipient’s questions about why assistance is needed.

  7. In one sentence, ask for the money (specify the amount), services (list the services), or equipment (give the piece of equipment’s name — the name most commonly used by the company) you need.

    Tell the recipient why you need the requested item(s). (Note that asking for money is very similar to drafting a purpose statement.)

  8. In one to three sentences, explain the measurable objectives the donation will help you achieve.

    This section is your chance to show the recipient that you plan to take steps to prove your organization lived up to its end of the donation.

  9. In one or two sentences, tell the recipient why you chose his company and point to your knowledge of the organization.

    Use the Internet to do your homework on the recipient’s organization. Look for the positives and share, in writing, your knowledge of any awards or accolades.

  10. Tell the recipient that if his company helps your organization, the contribution will mean much more than the money, goods, services, or equipment donated.

    Stroke the recipient’s ego by explaining how a donation from his organization makes you partners in promoting community change.

  11. Close your letter with a sentence that tells the recipient whom to contact with further questions and when you need to have the funds, goods, or services in place.

    Don’t forget to provide this deadline for the giver’s decision making. Otherwise, you may receive a response to your request long after you actually need the donation.

  12. Say goodbye.

    “Sincerely,” “Hopefully”…you get the idea.

  13. When mailing a hard-copy letter, space down three lines and type the name and title of the administrator authorized by your board of directors to sign legal documents. When e-mailing the letter, simply add your e-mail signature box with all of your contact information.

    Although the letter that you’re mailing isn’t a legal document, it is a formal request and should be signed by the individual authorized to sign other types of accountability documents for your organization. Make sure to give your letter, in draft form, to the official signatory for review and approval before showing up at his or her door with a finished letter.

  14. If you’re attaching any supporting documents, type the word Attachment and the number of documents after the administrator’s typed name and signature.

    Include the following basic attachments to give your letter’s recipient an in-depth look at your organization’s internal components and nonprofit status:

    • A total project budget

    • Your organization’s most recent financial statement

    • A brochure listing your programs and activities

    • Your IRS nonprofit letter

    • A catalog page that features the item you’re requesting (if applicable)

  15. At the end of your hard-copy letter, add a handwritten postscript (P.S.) of no more than three sentences that appeals to the reader’s emotions.

    The handwritten postscript is your last chance to get the recipient to identify with your organization’s values. Recipients who can relate to your need because of personal experience will be the first ones to respond favorably to your request.

    [Credit: Illustration by Ryan Sneed]
    Credit: Illustration by Ryan Sneed
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