How To Write a Supporting Letter (With Template and Example)
Updated July 31, 2023
The image is titled "Business Letter Format" and shows an example letter with the parts of the letter identified on the left side.
The left side includes:
Name and address
Complimentary close and signature
The letter reads:
February 1, 20XX
ABC Company, Inc.
1234 East Main Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Dear Ms. Jones,
I am submitting this request for a leave of absence to tend to important personal matters beginning next month. If possible, I would like to take my leave beginning March 15 and return to the office April 3, 20XX.
I can make myself available intermittently to answer questions via phone or email, and am happy to do whatever necessary to ensure a smooth transition before my leave begins.
Thank you for your consideration.
Writing in support of a cause, idea or individual can be a good way to use your professional influence to help others and expand your professional network. Whether you are writing for a college student gaining entrance to a program or a grant opportunity for a nonprofit, many of the qualities of a good letter of support stay the same.
Understanding how to write a successful letter of support can also help you with other tasks because writing is a transferable skill. In this article, we describe a supporting letter and explain how to write one, with a template and example.
What is a supporting letter?
A supporting letter is a personally written document that explains the writer's support for a person, cause or idea. You can write a letter of support for an individual, like a scholarship applicant, an organization, like a nonprofit seeking a grant, or even for a business. You might write your letter and give it back to the person who requested it, or you might have to submit it directly to the committee or office that reviews it.
A person or organization might request a letter of support from you. They will provide you with the information you need and a deadline when they need it. You might also volunteer to write one if a person or organization stands out in your mind as particularly worthy. It's important to understand the writing situation including your purpose and audience to write a successful letter of support.
How to write a supporting letter
If you want to write your own supporting letter, here are some steps you can use:
1. Identify your purpose
Before writing your letter of support, it is important to understand the specific purpose it will accomplish. Almost every kind of letter of support will be an effort to persuade the reader to take specific action for the person or organization you are supporting. Consider what that action is—you might want your reader to accept the person you are supporting into a specific program, for example, or fund a business project. You might even double-check your understanding of the letter's purpose with the person who requested it.
2. Know your audience
Once you are confident you understand the purpose of your supporting letter, continue thinking about the audience. Consider what kinds of information your reader is likely to find convincing. If the reader is a scholarship board, for example, they might be convinced by the evidence of the person's accomplishments and potential. If the reader is a grant-awarding organization, they might want to know about the organization's financial solvency. Writing with a specific audience in mind can help you communicate more persuasively.
3. Brainstorm ideas
Next, think about the details you want to include in your letter of support. Consider using anecdotes, data or other persuasive information to make a case for why the person or organization you are supporting is worthy of a specific opportunity. Try writing your ideas down when you brainstorm, to make it easier to organize your thoughts later.
4. Organize your evidence
Look over the ideas you brainstormed. See if you can identify any patterns or ideas that fit into categories because these categories can become paragraphs or sections of your letter. Use those sections to develop an outline or map of your letter. This will make it easier to write a coherent, unified letter of support.
Related: How To Write an Outline
5. Write a rough draft
Use your outline to write a rough draft of your letter of support. Since you have probably already brainstormed ideas and created an outline, this will mostly mean putting your ideas into complete sentences. Add transitional words and phrases between sections and paragraphs to help your reader understand the relationships between ideas.
6. Proofread and revise
After you've written a rough draft of your supporting letter you can proofread and revise. Look for places where you can add more detail to help make your case or remove extraneous information that might be distracting. Check carefully for errors in grammar, usage and mechanics because error-free writing is usually considered more trustworthy. You might choose to allow the person you are supporting to read the letter and suggest changes if it makes sense for your situation.
7. Submit your supporting letter
When you are satisfied that your letter of support communicates exactly what you want it to and is error-free, you can submit it according to the specific opportunity's requirements. Some programs require letters of support to be sent directly to the readers or committee. Others will accept letters from the applicants themselves. Certain situations might require a specific submission process for consideration, so be sure you understand the process clearly.
Supporting letter template
If you would like to refer to a template to write your letter of support, here's a framework you can use:
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing in support of [applicant's name]'s candidacy for [opportunity]. I believe this [individual or organization] is an exceptional candidate for this opportunity because [list of primary reasons].
First, [candidate] demonstrates the quality of [characteristic] by [example or anecdote of this quality in action.] This will benefit your organization by [the benefit of this quality.]
Moreover, this candidate is highly qualified for [opportunity] because [second characteristic]. For example, they [anecdote or evidence of this quality in action]. This will help your organization by [benefit to the reader].
Finally, [candidate] will surely exceed your expectations in [opportunity] because [third quality], as evidenced by their [anecdote or evidence of this quality]. This will certainly provide [the benefit of this quality to the organization].
For these reasons, I strongly support selecting [candidate] for [opportunity]. If you have any further questions about their qualifications, please don't hesitate to let me know. I can be reached at [contact info].
[Sender's name and signature]
Supporting letter example
To further inspire your own writing process, here is one example of a possible supporting letter:
February 16, 2022
Bob C. Ward
123 Fairview Way
Springfield, MA 12345
Mr. Fredrick Jones
456 Corporate Lane
Parkview, CA 34567
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing in support of The Birding Foundation's candidacy for an equipment grant through your organization. I believe this foundation is an exceptional candidate for this grant award because it provides bird-watching opportunities and resources to low-income individuals, which is a goal of your organization. It achieves these philanthropic objectives while also staying fiscally solvent, which will ensure the best possible use of these funds.
First, The Birding Foundation demonstrates the quality of philanthropy by providing binoculars at little to no cost in low-income communities across the country. They also hold clinics for beginning birders, which helps fledgling amateur birders access the outdoors. This will benefit your organization by connecting your name to a highly visible outdoor charity.
Moreover, The Birding Foundation is highly qualified for this grant because it manages its finances exceptionally well. For example, they fundraised half of their budget last year through sales and events, which in turn financed the charitable arm of their operations. They maintained that balance into the following year and ended with a surplus that they were able to put into a high-interest savings account for future expenses. This will be of benefit to your organization as well when it comes to ease of grant fund oversight.
Finally, The Birding Foundation will surely exceed your expectations in matching the funds provided, as evidenced by their performance with their previous grant opportunity. This will certainly ensure they meet the expectations of the grant program you provide.
For these reasons, I strongly support selecting The Birding Foundation for this grant. If you have any further questions about their qualifications, please don't hesitate to let me know. I can be reached at 987-555-1234.
Bob C. Ward
Frequently asked questions
Can I emphasize fundraising in a supporting letter?
While one of the goals of your supporting letter might be to gain funds for a project, you can try to keep this portion of your letter brief. Instead, emphasize the goal of your proposed project and how the reader's assistance could benefit the relevant individuals or communities.
What's the tone of an effective supporting letter?
An effective supporting letter has a persuasive and encouraging tone that isn't too assertive. It contains helpful information, so the reader has the details they need to make an informed decision about whether to offer the assistance that the writer requests. Within your letter, you can remain humble and express your gratitude for the reader's consideration so you can maintain a good professional relationship with them.
Why's it important to review a supporting letter before sending it?
Proofreading a supporting letter can help you add to its credibility and professionalism. It may also be easier for a reader to interpret your message without the distraction of spelling and grammatical errors.
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