To win grants, you need to write a solicitation letter that explains what you need, has an emotional pull and encourages the recipient to support your event or project. Be direct, draft a short letter, and be honest and genuine in your appeal so that the letter recipient can relate to your mission and want to help you have a successful outcome.
Write an introduction that provides a brief history and description of the project for which you are seeking a grant. Connect your project or need with the funder’s priorities. For example, if the funder supports children’s issues, then your letter should reference the connection between your project and the funder's mission of supporting children. The funder should know that you have researched its organization and knows what is its mission.
Describe the project or event that needs funding. If this is a first-time event or project, explain why you are doing it now, the need for it, the rationale behind why you feel it is time for this event or project, the target audience that will be helped by this project and the number of people who will benefit from this project. Explain what impact this event or project will have on the community and on the people that you will serve.
Ask the funder for a specific amount of money to carry out the project and specify when you need the money. Do not expect the funder to know how much money you need or how soon you need it. Be specific.
Craft the thank you section to include thanks for the financial contribution in advance and reiterate briefly how you will use the gift. Invite the funder to contact you for additional information. Add your telephone number and email address (optional) for the funder to contact you. If you are inserting a return-reply envelope and a brochure about your organization, add this to your wrap-up. Use a postscript to let the funder know that you are enclosing a brochure.
Develop a donor mailing list of past supporters as well as potential individuals, organizations, foundations and corporations that may support you. Know their priorities and what drives their philanthropy so you can speak to their priorities in your solicitation letter.
Proofread and spell check your letter carefully before you print it on letterhead to mail to funders. Susan Fujimoto, assistant professor of English, Monterey Peninsula College, advises that after the final review of your letter that you read it aloud to hear how it flows. Ask one or two colleagues to read the letter and give you feedback.
Tell a story in clear and simple language. Strategically place the elements of the letter so that they can be read quickly and still make a positive impact on the reader.
Always be honest and ethical with your donors and use the money you receive for the purpose for which you wrote the grant solicitation letter.
- “How to Write Successful Fundraising Letters”; Mal Warwick, 2008
- Susan Fujimoto, Assistant Professor of English, Monterey Peninsula College, Monterey, California
- writing image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com