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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cover letter example

 I am in day 12 of being unemployed and hoping to get in front of more possible job options this week. I have written many cover letters to date and have gotten some great feedback. With this post I would like to share one that I have used in the hopes that I can make my cover letters stronger. I would be thrilled to get your feedback, either in a comment or emailed to me at fundraisingdan@gmail.com

This cover letter has a generic Employer and I took out the name of the agency.

Dear Employer:

I am ecstatic to apply for the position of Executive Director.

My experience from several non-profit Director of Development positions, hotel sales positions as well as time in the US Navy and work with many diverse communities have brought me to a place in which I thrive in building relationships throughout many communities and believe that I excel in relationship building and partnership building.

I read position details and qualifications and have experience in all of the categories. I have worked with several Boards of Directors and have had great success in working with specific board members in becoming more active within the mission. I have managed staff and teams from three to seventeen people and have always succeeded in helping create a work environment that is positive and productive. I excel in the entire fundraising category and am in bliss when building relationships that become the core of a fundraising plan. I have written budgets, cut spending and can work closely with a team to look at a five-year or more budget plan. I also thrive in community relations and have worked in several diverse communities. I believe that collaboration is one of the keys to successful relationship building and fundraising.

I am a proven fundraiser and have many good relationships in the Boulder area. I have had success in creating and supporting a more positive and productive workplace. This would be my first Executive Director position and I feel I could bring a lot to____ from all of my past experiences. My personality is one that allows me to be just as comfortable speaking with clients as I am at a Chamber event, with a major donor or at the state capitol.

I bring a history of non-profit successes, community building, engagement with diverse communities and a personality and attitude that remains positive and energetic in any situation. I have spent most of my life working in human rights and trying to make the world a better place for all living beings. Working with ____ would be the perfect match.

Thank you very much for your time.


Dan Hanley

Thank you for reading!


  1. Dan - first of all, let me say that this is a LOT better than my default cover letter and I plan to "borrow" from you liberally during my next job search.

    My only criticism would be that in the nonprofit world, I've found that employers want to see the personal connection you bring to the mission. I realize you took out identifying data, but I'd recommend sharing why the organization's mission matches your personal passions...not just professional expertise.

    Best of luck!

  2. Hello Dan,
    Having just gone thru this myself, I can so sympathize! And while I was looking, I received plenty of advice from professionals at the Actors Work Program and thru the Foundation Center.
    So -- here are my comments: in general, I think you're cover letter mirrors your resume too closely and is too generic. I would agree with Matthew that you need to tailor your letter to the specific mission, but I would also add that you may want to tailor all parts of your letter to the job description.
    Further, (and this may sound contradictory -- as you are trying to sell yourself) it's actually not about you -- it's about what you can do for THEM. For example -- you mention Community relations as a strength -- I would add WHY this community appeals to you. (ie, "I have strong ties around the country to XYZ-related Foundations, and am familiar with local ABC affiliates.")
    Here's a sample from advice I got that really helped me:

    Remember: The purpose of a cover letter is to:
    • Indicate how you heard about the position. If it is through an ex-supervisor or colleague, indicate the relationship.
    • Show the prospective employer that you have done your research and that you both have the skills for the job and are committed to the organization’s mission;
    • Highlight specific skills or accomplishments that relate to the employer, and/or the job;