Letters of application

Some funders do not have application forms, but invite applications by letter.

What to include in a letter of application

Your letter should take the form of a concise proposal accompanied by a specific letter of introduction. Explain why you are writing to that particular funder. Write the letter to a 'real' person - a named member of staff. If a contact email address is published send a draft of your proposal for comments.

How long should your letter of application be?

Check the funders guidelines – some will tell you the number of A4 sides they prefer. 

If the funders details do not specify how long your letter should be, base it on the scale of what you are asking them to fund:

  • for small projects - two sides of A4 will usually suffice

  • for more sizable projects you will need to include more details - split your proposal into paragraphs and use bold text to emphasise important points

Lead with the Need

Try to start your letter of proposal with a summary of who you are and what you want to do. Tell them how your project will work with others, what makes it different and how people will benefit.

Tell the funder about your group

  • include background information on the organisation, such as your charity number, annual accounts and review

  • what are your achievements to date? Do you have a track-record that will re-assure the funder of your ability to manage the activities/services/project you are asking them to support?

  • if the funder has asked for a copy of your constitution remember to include this with the letter

  • attach a Business Plan if you are asking for a significant amount

The amount you need and the timescale of your project plans

Include the timescale for your project and the key objectives and targets. Be open about the total amount of money needed and state that you would be happy to receive the whole amount or a contribution to this. If you are approaching other funders – be honest and tell them. Also tell them if you are able to contribute towards project costs yourselves through local fundraising.

How will you monitor and evaluate the project?

Explain what benefits your clients will receive from your project and how you plan to monitor and evaluate these. Will you use questionnaires, independent evaluation, feedback via word of mouth? Try and think of benefits that you can actually measure.

What happens afterwards?

Remember, a funder may fund you a second time and is more likely to do so if you have built up a relationship and made them interested in your project. If your application is unsuccessful phone and ask why. They may not have the resources to write individual letters but will usually be happy to give you verbal feedback.