If you’re writing a grant on behalf of a consortium, be prepared to include letters of commitment from consortium partners with your proposal. These letters of commitment, also known as “memorandums of understanding” or collaborative agreements, must come from each one of the partners that is actively participating in your project.

Although there is not an official “letter of commitment” format that must be used, there are some specific types of information that should be included in this letter.

The purpose of a letter of commitment is to document that a particular individual, organization, or entity is participating as a project partner. This document should show the partner’s specific roles and responsibilities in the project—and, if applicable, that the individual or organization is making some type of financial commitment to the partnership, in the form of either cash or in-kind contributions.

If you keep the purpose in mind, it is easy to design a letter of commitment. (However, be sure to check if your school district has a letter of commitment or collaborative agreement template on file that you should use before designing your own!)

When drafting a letter of commitment, be sure to be as specific as possible. List the roles and responsibilities of the partner, including any training that will be provided, materials that will be developed, and staff that will provide technical assistance. Also, if the partner will be contributing any technology or equipment (or the use of either of these), include this information in the letter as well. Document the type of information the partner will be responsible for collecting, and also discuss the partner’s role in the evaluation process if it has one.

Obviously, for cash contributions being made by a partner, the dollar figure should be included in the letter. For in-kind contributions, calculate the dollar value of the contribution and include this in the letter.

For example, if a local university is contributing 100 hours of use of its distance learning lab, you will need to find out how much the university would charge someone from the community to “rent” this lab by the hour, then calculate how much the 100 hours would be worth. Likewise, if a museum is providing complementary admissions for 200 students, calculate the value of this contribution.

The cash and in-kind contributions from all of the project partners (as documented in your letters of commitment) should also appear as matching funds on your budget pages. Also, don’t forget to cite the contributions in the activities/methodology section of your proposal, so that grant readers have a clear picture of who the project partners are and how they “fit” into your project. Readers should not be introduced to your partners on the budget pages!

Letters of commitment should have a signature—preferably that of the highest-level staff member, such as the superintendent, executive director, dean of the college, or university president.

Keep copies of these letters on file so you can refer to them while carrying out the project.

One final word of caution: Do not confuse letters of commitment with letters of support. The latter come from individuals, organizations, or entities that do not have an active role in your project; however, they believe that your project is a good one and will have a positive impact on the intended audience.

In some RFPs (requests for proposals), you will be asked to include both letters of support and commitment; other RFPs may request one or the other type of letters. Be sure you know the difference between the two, and include only the type(s) requested! Making a mistake with these could cost you valuable points and result in a proposal that doesn’t get funded. n