Requesting approval for a project or large purchase can be nerve-wracking and frustrating. However, with the right wording and attitude, you're more likely to get the go-ahead you need. Research is also key: you must know exactly what you require, know what the impact on your company will be and be able to explain it in terms that your boss can understand. A specific and well-written request letter can go a long way toward making your idea or project a reality.
Research Your Proposal
The first step in any approval process is researching what you need. If you are asking for a new company vehicle, research exactly what kind of vehicle you want, how much it will cost and how it suits the company's needs. Do not make a general statement about what you want approved. The recipient of your letter is more likely to decide in your favor if it's clear in your letter that you have made an effort to figure out what is best for the company. More importantly, the more specific you are, the more likely it is that she will be comfortable giving you approval for a project or purchase, because she will know exactly what you will do after the approval.
Format the Letter Correctly
Start by addressing your boss by name and title (for example, Vice President Smith). If by chance you do not know who will be reading the letter, address the letter to the person's title (for example, "Dear Commissioner.") However, personalization is important, so do your best to find out the person's name and correct title. You can often find this on the organization's website, or by picking up the phone and asking for the person's name.
Next, introduce the purchase or proposal that you want to have approved. Try to do this in the first sentence of your letter. This will allow the reader to have a clear idea of what you are proposing right away and give her context for the rest of the letter. This also lets her know that you know exactly what you want.
Dear Supervisor Cunningham,
The Castle Rock High School marching band is in need of new uniforms.
Give Detailed Examples
Next, explain why the action you are proposing should be taken. Even if it seems obvious why a purchase is necessary, explain the reasoning behind it in detail. If your letter's recipient doesn't see a good reason for the action that is proposed in the letter, it will fail. It should only take a few sentences to do this.
We last purchased uniforms in 1992, and the current collection is very ragged and worn.
Continue by listing all of the reasons that the proposal would be beneficial to your company. It's about what your work will do for the company, not about why you personally think the proposal is important.
The marching band represents our school in parades, football games and other community gatherings. New uniforms would put our school in a much more positive light.
We now have to pay a tailoring company thousands of dollars each year to maintain our old uniforms. New ones would eliminate these fees.
Having new modern uniforms would greatly increase the morale of the entire band, which generally results in higher grades for all member students.
Conclude With Valuable Information
Conclude your letter with your name, email address and phone number and invite the reader to contact you with any questions regarding the letter or the proposal. If applicable, also note the date that you hope that you will have an answer to your request. When you have finished with the letter, it should be no longer than one page unless you have a very good reason to continue on to a second page (such as a very complex proposal that requires lengthy explanation or a long list of reasons as to why your request would be beneficial).
If you have any questions, I'm happy to meet with you at any time.
Ben Warren, Director, firstname.lastname@example.org 555-1234
Always write in a respectful and formal way. For example, instead of saying "It would be great for the company if we could buy a few new printers," write something like, "If the company were to buy five new printers, it would benefit Example Corp. because..." If it is not already required, consider printing and hand-delivering your letter instead of emailing it to your recipient. It will show that you really care about your proposal and will make it more likely that he remembers to respond to the letter in a timely manner.
Note that a well-written approval letter may not get you anywhere – your recipient may decide that the proposal itself is the problem. In that case, you will have to come up with an entirely new idea or bide your time until you can try again.
A writer since 2006, Lynne Fort has contributed to "The Forest Hills Journal," "The Daily Northwestern" and the "Cape Times." She has served as a general assignment reporter, political blogger and humor columnist. Fort is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Northwestern University.