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How to Write a Nonprofit Grant Cover Letter and Summary

Your nonprofit grant proposal should include a concise cover letter and summary. Technically, the cover letter isn’t part of the proposal narrative. It’s attached to the top of the proposal, where it serves as an introduction to the document’s primary points. One of its key roles is to convey how the proposal addresses the foundation’s stated priorities. Cover letters often require a signature from the executive director and/or board president.

The letter mentions any contact the organization has had with the funding source. For example, you may say, “When I tripped over your umbrella last Tuesday, I couldn’t help but notice you were reading a book about frogs. Here at the city park aquarium, we’ve planned an astounding amphibian exhibition.”

Although you always want to lay out the basics of the request — how much money is needed and for what — you can also use the letter to say something about your personal connection to the cause. The letter should close with clear, specific information about the contact person to whom the funding source should direct any questions.

The body of the actual grant proposal begins with an executive summary containing an overview of its key ideas. You’ll usually begin the summary section with a one-sentence overview of the project and how much money is being requested in the proposal. Next you include the primary ideas from every section of the proposal. Finally, close the executive summary with the prognosis for future funding for the program.

Don’t use the exact same wording to describe your project idea in the cover letter and in the project summary. You don’t want to bore your reader, and you don’t want to miss the opportunity to write in a more personal manner in the cover letter.

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