How to Write Great Support Letters

You’ve pushed through the awkwardness of asking the various friends, colleagues and acquaintances you know for an honours support letter. People are busy, and asking them to write a support letter feels like an imposition. (Maybe you’ve used our services to help.) But just getting any old letter really won’t be sufficient. In order to support a nomination, a support letter needs to contain a few critical elements. So, what makes a great support letter? We’ll break it down.

First-hand experience

Above all, your supporter must know your nominee personally. Everything they write about in their supporter letter should be from first-hand experience. So, that means you’ll want to avoid hearsay and 2nd hand accounts. For example, let’s say your nominee hosted a charity dinner for 100 guests and raised £125k on the night. That’s great! It’s exactly the sort of thing the committee would love to hear about. But to write about it, it would be great if the supporter was actually there. It also follows that friends of friends, superiors with no direct interactions or heads of organisations who have never met your nominee are not the ideal candidates for supporter letters.

Goes beyond the job

So few awards are given out each year and that’s why it’s so important that they go to the most deserving among us. So, your support letters should detail specific instances of accomplishments that are beyond ‘just doing your job.’ It’s best not to assume the committee knows the context either. You’ll want to provide enough flavour and backstory to bring the review panel on the journey, to show them why your nominee is extraordinary. Remember, this shouldn’t read like a list of awards. You’ll want to provide the right positioning to help the honours committee understand the significance of any award or accomplishment mentioned in the letter.

More than a CV

Similar to the prior topic, your supporter letters must be more than a CV. You’ll want to avoid just listing the roles and positions your nominee has held. Being the CEO or Chairperson or Founder of anything is not (in and of itself) significant. There are thousands of people who create companies and organisations in this country every year. For your supporter letter to carry more weight, you want to set the scene for your nominee’s important work. Perhaps look to answer the question, ‘how has their career enabled them to reach the pinnacle of achievement?’

What makes them different

Your support letters should help the honours committee understand what makes your nominee different from others who are doing the same work. Do they have a personal connection? Are they overcoming a medical condition or disability? Have they been recognised as the pinnacle of their field by a reputable source? Remember that thousands of nominees are submitted every year and your supporters should; through their writing, help set your nominee apart from all the others by clearly outlining their uniqueness.

Be a legitimate source

It goes without saying that your supporter should be a person of good standing in the community. As with any character or professional reference, the more relevant they are, the more weight their words will carry. It could be considered particularly useful to request your supporter write only about what they are a qualified expert in observing. So, for those doing charity work, getting a letter of support from the local councilman who accepted the donation would be an excellent choice. They could speak on the direct impact your nominee’s work has had on their constituency and share solid facts and figures.

Understandably, many people want help securing great support letters that will further a nomination. If you need assistance, let’s talk about what Bayleaf Honours can do for you.

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