The Award Lifecycle

Letters of Support and Letters of Commitment

Some sponsors request a letter of support or a letter of commitment (depending on the type of collaboration that is being presented or is being required). 

Before attaching such letters to your proposal, check the guidelines to make sure the sponsor allows letters to be included. Some sponsors may not allow an Appendix to be included except for required documents as specified in the guidelines.

General Differences between Letters

Letters of Support

  • Letter writer advocates for your project
  • Referred to in the text or the project narrative
  • How does the project fit with the mission/goals of their organization
  • Presents type of support

Letters of Commitment

  • Evidence of interest in the project from participants
  • If the project is funded, they are ready with their contribution
  • What they will contribute
  • They will participate at the time you need them
  • Usually indicates concrete actions they are committing to provide during the project.

Agency Specific Guidance

NSF:

Letters of support are not needed for co-PIs, but should be solicited from collaborators at other institutions, evaluators, consultants, etc., and anyone not at NIU or in another department/college at NIU who is agreeing to support the project.

Letters should contain specific commitments and be as descriptive as possible. Letters from colleagues "in support" of the proposal should not be submitted. (And if they are, NSF will either return the proposal without review or request that they be removed.)

However, please be sure to review the solicitation for the competition to which you are applying. Some competitions require specific kinds of supplementary documentation, and others do not allow any supplementary documents to be included. The guidelines for the specific competition trump the general rules presented above.

NIH:

Letters of Support (if applicable). Attach appropriate letters from all individuals confirming their roles in the project.

For consultants, letters should include rates or charges for consulting services.

Letters of support are not needed for co-PIs or for personnel (such as research assistants) not contributing in a substantive, measurable way to the scientific development or execution of the project.

Do solicit such letters from collaborators at other institutions, evaluators, consultants, etc., and anyone not at NIU or in another department/college at NIU who is agreeing to support the project in a substantial, measurable manner. Letters should contain specific commitments and be as descriptive as possible. Letters from colleagues “in support” of the proposal should not be submitted.