Grant Writing

Tips on Writing the Cover Letter for Grant Application

Depending on the funding institution, you will be required to submit a cover letter with your application. Some cover letters will not be included to your review panel, and others will. It is vitally important that you understand the role your cover letter plays in your overall application and plan appropriately.

  • The cover letter is your proposal’s first impression, and allows the funding agency to immediately connect your project with their mission statement. It is not the same as an executive summary which states your proposal’s key points.
  • Most cover letters should contain the following information at the very least:
    • Application Title,
    • The Funding Opportunity (PA or RFA) that you are applying under,
    • The request to be assigned to a specific scientific review group or committee,
    • List of individuals to exclude as reviewers and information as to why they should not review your application,
    • Disciplines involved, if you have a multidisciplinary project,
    • Explanation of any subaward budget forms that are not active for all periods of the proposed grants, and
    • A statement that you have attached all required agency approval documentation.
  • Analysis has shown that requests made by investigators are a valuable source of information in the application process; these requests can be made in the cover letter.
  • Examples of a Cover Letter for the NIH:
    • Please assign this application to the following:
      • Institutes/Centers
        • National Cancer Institute – NCI
        • National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research – NIDCR
      • Scientific Review Groups
        • Molecular Oncogenesis Study Section – MONC
        • Cancer Etiology Study Section – CE
      • Please do not assign this application to the following:
        • Scientific Review Groups
        • Cancer Genetics Study Section – CG
    • The reasons for this request are [provide a narrative explanation for the request(s)].
  • If your funding agency requires that the cover letter is more descriptive in nature, consider the following points to include:
    • Introduce your project and how it will further the agency’s mission in the first sentence
    • Request the total budget amount
    • Reference your most recent contact with the foundation, if you have one
    • List the proposal’s contents in the order they are attached
    • Give your contact information in case the contract officer wants additional information
  • May be signed by the Associate Director of Research.

Further Reading

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