Last Updated:

April 11, 2023

How to Write a Cover Letter for Grant Proposals: The Ultimate 2023 Guide

How to Write a Cover Letter for Grant Proposals: The Ultimate 2023 Guide

Are you writing your first grant proposal cover letter? Or perhaps you are looking to learn something new about how to write an application letter for funding support?

In this article, we will explain what cover letters are, the features of a good cover letter, cover letter formatting, and more. We will also provide some sample grant proposal cover letters and break down what makes them good examples.

What are Cover Letters for Grant Proposals?

A cover letter for a grant proposal is a document that goes along with your completed proposal. It is your opportunity to demonstrate that you understand the priorities and interests of the funder and how your work aligns with their goals.

Cover letters are typically only requested by foundations and corporations. Government grants do not usually ask for cover letters because they have very specific proposal layouts and requirements.

You will only submit a cover letter if the funder requests one. Many funders now utilize online application systems which do not require a cover letter, so make sure you understand the requirements of the specific funder.

Overall, the cover letter is an opportunity to share a bit of background on your organization, inform the funder of your total request, and demonstrate why you are the right organization to complete the proposed project.

What Makes a Good Cover Letter for Your Grant Proposals?

Here we will explain a few key points to help you understand what makes a good cover letter. Later on we will provide sample grant proposal cover letters as examples.

Some refer to a grant proposal cover letter as an application letter for funding support. As this alternate name indicates, the cover letter is a part of your funding request. You should use the letter to catch the attention of the funder.

The application cover letter should communicate why your organization and your program deserve to be funded. A well-written grant proposal cover letter will help the funder begin to see the difference that their support can make through your program.

A good cover letter will provide just enough detail about your organization and program to encourage the funder to read more in your full proposal. It is important, however, to make sure that your cover letter is not an executive summary.

We recommend writing the cover letter after your grant application is complete so that you can reflect on the entire application. The cover letter should be written such that it helps the funder understand how they can help you serve your audience.

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How Should You Format Your Proposal's Cover Letter?

Because your grant proposal cover letter will be the first thing that a funder sees when receiving your grant application, you must use it to make a good first impression.

Here are a few key formatting guidelines to keep in mind:

  1. Use your company letterhead.
  2. Make sure the date of your letter matches the date of your application proposal.
  3. Keep the letter to one page consisting of three to four paragraphs.
  4. Write clearly and concisely so the letter is easy to read.
  5. Find the appropriate contact at the funding entity so that you can address the letter to a specific person.
  6. Place the address of the funder at the top of your letter. Format the address as contact name, title, funder name, address.
  7. Use a formal introduction such as “Dear Mr./Mrs.”.
  8. Use the first paragraph to introduce your organization, state the amount of your request, briefly explain the project, and provide one research-based fact as to why your work is important.
  9. Indicate how your work aligns with the funder’s priorities.
  10. Make sure to mention any recent or previous interactions you have had with the funder.
  11. Close the letter with an invitation for a site visit or program observation if appropriate.
  12. End with a hopeful statement such as “I look forward to speaking with you more about this program”.
  13. The letter needs to be signed by your executive director or board chairman. And make sure to include the full name and title of the signer below the signature.
  14. Provide contact information for whoever can answer application questions (if it differs from the signer).
  15. Include the word “ENCLOSURE” or “ATTACHMENT” at the bottom to indicate that this letter is part of a larger packet.

3 Sample Cover Letters for Grant Proposals

In this section, we have written original sample grant proposal cover letters. Following each example, we break down the good and bad parts of each letter.

Grant Proposal Cover Letter Example One

“September 1st, 2021

Ms. Rhonda Zinner, President
The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation
399 Boylston St.
Boston, MA 02116

Dear Ms. Zinner,

The Reading Zone would like to present our proposal for your review. We hope that you will partner with us to help encourage families to read together. The Reading Zone focuses on providing reading tools for families in Grant County. We appreciate the opportunity to be a part of your initiative to increase reading comprehension for Grant County students. Support from the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation will help us provide family reading sessions to 100 families over the next year. 

Our Reading Together program is designed to help encourage reading at home which in turn encourages students to enjoy reading. The program helps us continue to reach our overall goal of improved reading scores for Grant County students. We are requesting $35,000 which will help cover costs for staff time and the purchase of books for the families that participate in the program.

It was wonderful speaking with you a couple of weeks ago about this program. We are excited for the opportunity to partner and hope to build a long-lasting relationship.

We look forward to speaking with you more about this application and would love for you or any representatives from the Foundation to join us for a reading program.


Jane Smith
Executive Director
The Reading Zone
[email protected]


Grant Proposal Cover Letter Example One Breakdown

Our first example is formatted well and includes the key items such as a direct contact, formal title, organization background, amount of request, and a brief description of the project.

The letter is also signed by the executive director and provides her contact information. However, there could be a bit more emotion incorporated into this letter to help the funder form a connection with the organization and the project.

Overall this is a pretty good sample cover letter for proposal submission. This template would be helpful if you have had some conversations with the funder prior to submitting your application.

Grant Proposal Cover Letter Example Two

“October 1st, 2021

Ms. Jenny Belknap Kees
EQUUS Foundation, Inc.
168 Long Lots Rd.
Westport, CT 06880

Dear Ms. Kees,

We appreciate the opportunity to provide the enclosed proposal for review by the EQUUS Foundation. Here at Horses for Heroes, we understand the important roles that horses play in our lives. We enjoy helping heroes of varying backgrounds increase their confidence and other life skills through working with horses.

We are glad to see that the EQUUS Foundation understands the many ways horses can improve our lives.

Our request is for the amount of $75,000 over two years. The funds will help support our Horses Inspire program which has a goal of improving the lives of those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Your support will help us provide empowering experiences for soldiers and others who suffer from PTSD.

We take pride in the work that we do and would be glad to show you around our facility when your schedule allows. For questions about the enclosed proposal, please contact Jim Green, Program Director at 555-345-7335 or via email at [email protected].
Thank you for your consideration of this application.


Jessica Brown
Board Chairman
Heroes for Horses


Grant Proposal Cover Letter Example Two Breakdown

Our second grant proposal cover letter example also covers all of the key components. The letter is dated to match the proposal, is written and addressed to the direct contact at the funder, and is signed by the board chairman for the organization.

Note that this letter does not mention any prior interactions with the foundation. We wrote this example as if this is the first time the organization is applying to this particular funder.

This second example includes a bit more emotion which will hopefully help draw the funder in but could use a bit more support for why the work of the nonprofit is important. Our second sample is helpful if you are applying for the first time and have not spoken with the funder before submitting the proposal.

Grant Proposal Cover Letter Example Three

“October 15th, 2021

Ms. Jennifer Liversedge
Program Officer
Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
Mott Foundation Building
503 S. Saginaw St., Suite 1200
Flint, MI 48502

Dear Ms. Liversedge,

First of all, we would like to thank the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation for their previous support of our organization. Your support of our Woodland Foods program in 2011 helped hundreds of students learn important outdoor survival information and skills. It is very important to provide youth with opportunities for positive outdoor experiences and that is one of our main goals here at The Mountain School. 

We appreciate that the Foundation understands the importance of providing outdoor experiences for youth and look forward to working with you on our Days Away program. We are requesting $35,000 for a one-year program to help provide youth camping opportunities in our region. You helped to make our Woodland Foods program a huge success and our organization has been growing ever since.

We have a passion for inspiring youth to love nature and connect with the environment. Through these experiences, participants learn their role in protecting our planet and the ways that their actions can make a difference. We hope to have another successful partnership with the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and welcome the opportunity to speak with you more about this proposal.

Thank you for your consideration of support and we would love to have you join us for an outdoor experience when your schedule allows.

Marcus Deerin
Executive Director
The Mountain School
[email protected]


Grant Proposal Cover Letter Example Three Breakdown

Our final example demonstrates how you would write to a funder that has previously funded your organization.

The nonprofit explains how the previous funds helped their program become a success and how that program has helped their organization continue to grow. This letter clearly explains how the program relates to the priorities of the funder and offers the opportunity for a site visit. Overall this is a well-written letter.

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Dos and Don'ts of Grant Proposal Cover Letters

Do: Write in a manner that is professional, clear, and concise.

You want to make sure that you write clearly and concisely and do not write more than you need. While the cover letter is meant to be a bit more like a conversation, you are requesting financial support, so keep things professional. You also want to make sure that the letter reads well and states the important information without getting too wordy.

Do: Make your cover letter stand out.

The funder will receive MANY applications and cover letters, so it is important to find a way to stand out. One way is to highlight the strengths of your organization and demonstrate why you are best suited to implement your proposed project. This may also include highlighting a past success relating to the proposed project.

Do: Know the appropriate contact person within the funding entity.

You want to make sure you can address your letter to a direct contact person. This helps to demonstrate that you took the time to research the funder and could indicate that you have already made contact with the funder.

Instrumentl is a great resource for finding funder details, providing clear insights into who some of the key people within a foundation are.

Do: Write your cover letter after completing your grant application.

Writing the cover letter after your application has been completed will allow you to properly describe the aspects needed for a good cover letter. You can reflect on your completed proposal and be sure to convey your confidence in the project.

Don’t: Copy information from your proposal; the cover letter is NOT an executive summary.

Make sure that your cover letter does not copy information directly from your proposal or simply summarize the proposal. The cover letter is meant to introduce your organization and project to the funder and help them get a first look at why you deserve funding.

Don’t: Submit a cover letter if the funder does not request one.

Make sure that you understand the requirements of the funder. It will seem unprofessional if you submit a cover letter when it is not requested.

Don’t: Forget to check for grammatical, spelling, and other simple writing errors.

These types of errors will be seen as unprofessional and are likely to make the funder less interested in your application. Have a coworker, board member, volunteer, or other partner edit your letter.

Wrapping Things Up: Cover Letters for Grant Proposals

We hope you have found some things in this article to help you better understand grant proposal cover letters. The grant proposal cover letter examples that we provided should help you get a good sense of what your letter should look like.

The key takeaways are to make sure you understand funder requirements, obtain information for a direct contact at the funder, and write the cover letter after you complete the grant proposal application. If you follow these steps, you will be well on your way to writing a good grant application letter.

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