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How to Write a Grant Application Cover Letter

1 of 9 in Series: The Essentials of Constructing Your Grant Application

Your cover letter should be brief, it should get to the point, and it shouldn’t regurgitate the information that’s in the grant application or proposal. The grant app cover letter should provide the first inkling of how well you understand the person to whom you’ve addressed the letter (that’s the funder). This figure gives you the basic format of a cover letter.


Click here to view this example.

Heads up, contract bidders: RFP guidelines vary, so read the checklist requirements to determine whether you need to add a cover letter to your application.

Follow these handy tips when you write your cover letters:

  • Use the same date that the complete grant application will be sent to the funding source. You want to create documents that are consistent, so the dates on cover letters and accompanying cover forms should be the same.

  • Open with the contact person’s name and title. Follow the contact person's information with the funding source name, address, city, state, and zip code. Remember to double-check the contact information with a telephone call or e-mail to the funder.

  • Greet the contact person with “Dear” plus the personal title (Mr., Ms., Mrs., and so on), followed by the last name. This is your first point of introduction to a potential funder, so a personal title must be used. Call ahead to make sure that the personal title is correct.

  • Keep the first paragraph short and focused. Start by introducing your organization (use its legal name), and then introduce yourself and give your job title. Finally, get to the point. Tell the funder how much money you’re requesting and why the monies are needed by your organization. Write a sentence or two about what your organization does. Validate your existence by adding at least one sentence that includes research-based evidence that there is a need for what your organization does.

  • Write a second paragraph that’s brief and to the point. Include no more than three sentences stating your organization’s corporate structure status and the date it was founded. Then tell the funder your organization’s purpose and how it aligns with the funder’s mission or funding priority.

  • Wrap up your cover letter up with a final, summarizing paragraph. Share a closing thought or reflection about what this funding partnership can mean for the future of your project’s target audience.

  • Use a standard closing, such as “Sincerely” or “With hope.” It’s important to sound both thankful and optimistic when you close your request for funds.

  • Sign your first name only. Doing so invites an informal, long-term relationship. Type your first name, middle initial, last name, and job title below the space you leave for the signature.

  • At the bottom of the letter, include the word ENCLOSURE (in all caps). This note indicates that a grant proposal is included in the same packet. The capital letters signal that the grant proposal is important.

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