It’s easy to overlook the importance of a good cover letter when you’re focusing on your proposal, but don’t take the easy way out. When you spend just a few minutes on your cover letter, it often shows. A cover letter is something that introduces you and your business to the reader, and a properly written proposal letter helps make your first impression a good one.

You typically do not need a cover letter for a proposal that you’re submitting to a state, city or federal government unless it specifically asks for one. Usually, such proposals will require a cover sheet formatted in a specific way.

Make Sure Your Proposal Letter Looks Polished

Your letter is the first impression for your proposal recipient, so don’t skimp on the fine details. When writing the letter, use your organization’s professionally printed letterhead. In order to keep your paperwork consistent, the letter should be dated the same as your proposal. Make sure you are addressing your proposal letter to the proper person and department – this will help your recipient know that you took the time to get the details right. (It’s also good to do this because contact information and names can change.) Call the company if you’re unsure of a person’s title or department; when it comes to professionalism, the details count.

What to Put In Your Proposal Cover Letter

Your letter serves as an introduction to the organization, and as such, should fit on one page easily. Your first paragraph should introduce your organization by name, tell the recipients at your business or nonprofit does, and what your proposal is about.

Black hand signing a letter

The middle of the letter should focus on the purpose of your proposal. For example, if you are asking for funding, you should explain the project and how it benefits the world. If you’re sending a proposal in response to a request, explain what the proposal is in response to and what problem it solves. Sometimes it’s easiest if you sum up your purpose in one sentence, similar to an elevator pitch. If you had only 30 seconds to pitch this potential client or donor, what would you want then to know most? With this in mind, you’ll be able to focus on the purpose of your proposal, as well as your passion for the project or solution you have in mind.

Make sure to close your letter strongly, using the last paragraph to drive your purpose home to the reader. A good way to do this is to point to past work and accomplishments or case studies to illustrate why you are the best organization/business to get the job done. You can also mention specific expertise of staff members who will participate in the proposed work, award your business or organization has received, or impressive credentials from your board of directors.

Make sure you thank the reader for their time and sign your letter with “Sincerely.” Have an Executive Director, CEO or the President of the Board sign the cover letter personally.

At the bottom of the letter, make sure that you type the word “ENCLOSURE” to indicate that a proposal is attached.


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