Non Profit Development Cover Letter

Could this cover letter sample be more targeted for a nonprofit? I don't think so. And, for that very reason, I'm pretty sure the hiring manager will find this applicant a good fit for his human rights nonprofit.

Kate wrote a really heartfelt cover letter, which she sent to me for review. I like the way she weaves her passion for human rights into her qualifications for being an executive assistant in finance. Take a look.

My Comments on Kate's Cover Letter Sample

After Kate sent me her cover letter, I responded with just a few comments to make it better. But really, Kate did a great job on her own.

Hello Kate,
I love your cover letter — at least I did once I got into it. But it took a few sentences for me to start liking it, and that might be a problem. If you don't grab your reader in the first paragraph, you could lose him all together.

The first sentence sounds like so many other cover letters I’ve read. Sort of ho-hum even though you use the word "excitement." I wonder if you could either rewrite it to reflect the passion you show later in the letter, or simply delete that first phrase.

One more thing, see if you can find a person’s name for your salutation. If you can’t, then write, “Dear Manager” or “Dear Director” instead of “Dear Madam/Sir.” "Dear Madam/Sir" is so old-fashioned.

With my edits, here's what the start of your letter would look like.

Dear Ms XX,

I wish to express my interest in the Executive Assistant to the Vice President of Finance, which I saw posted on Idealist.org.

Now, let's put that with the rest of your cover letter to see how it flows.

Sample Cover Letter for an Executive Assistant at a Nonprofit

Dear Ms X,

I wish to express my interest in the Executive Assistant to the Vice President of Finance, which I saw posted on Idealist.org. With its outstanding reputation, XX has long been on my “dream list” for places to work. I feel that my combination of skills and experience in administration and my passion for human rights make me a qualified candidate for this position.

One of my favorite quotes from Rumi (and words to live by) is “let the beauty we love be what we do.” When there is passion behind the work we do, it fuels us to work for the change we believe is possible. Beyond my administration experience in budget management, calendar management, facilitation, and meeting coordination I have the aspiration to surround myself with those who are committed to human rights and change. Without a doubt, XX offers that experience and atmosphere.

The organization’s work in Haiti and around the world, offering primary healthcare to the poor, is beyond inspiring. I would be honored to work alongside people who have dedicated their lives to defending the human rights of others and saving lives.

Through my work, volunteer, and travel experience, I have honed my interpersonal, organizational, and presentation skills. I am a self-directed team player who has careful attention to detail and experience in program planning and volunteer coordination. I am thrilled about the possibility of deploying my skills, positive attitude, and strong work ethic in the service of the XX Finance team and wider XX community.

Thank you for considering my application. I can be reached at your convenience via phone or email. I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,
Kate XX

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You know that next job of yours? Yes, that’s right, the really amazing one with the brilliant co-workers, cool boss, and fresh, free snacks in the office vending machine? That one.

You know how you’re going to land it? By quickly showing your future employer that:

a) You’re going to perform incredibly well in this job.
b) You’re insanely likable.
c) You’re really going to fit in around there.

These are the three primary factors that influence the selection process. The person who wins that great job will be the one who shows the decision makers, quickly, that he or she is all three of those things. And you have an amazing opportunity to begin planting these seeds right from the introduction, à la your cover letter.

Most people squander the opportunity. Instead of using their cover letter real estate to their massive advantage, they toss over bland, cliche-filled, or completely-redundant-to-the-resume clunkers. Or worse, they showcase all the things that they want out of the deal, without pausing for a moment to recognize that the company cares a heck of a lot more about what it’s going to get from you.

As a recruiter, it pains me to read most cover letters, because the vast (and I mean vast) majority of them stink. Knowing this should inspire you even further to create a brilliant one. Because, let me tell you, on those rare occasions an amazing cover letter crosses my desk? Mamma mia. It makes my day, and it most certainly influences my interest in its author.

So, how do you pull off a killer cover letter, one that conveys passion and talent and that makes the recruiter or hiring manager’s day? Make sure you do all of these things.

1. Tell Them Why, Specifically, You’re Interested in the Company

Decision makers never want to feel like you’re wallpapering the universe with the same pathetic cover letter. They want to feel special. And so, you need to make it clear that you’re approaching this organization for very specific reasons. And ideally, not the same very specific reasons that everyone else is giving.

Example

Try a high-personality lead in like this: “Having grown up with the Cincinnati Zoo (literally) in my backyard, I understand firsthand how you’ve earned your reputation as one of the most family-friendly venues in the State of Ohio. For 20 years, I’ve been impressed as your customer; now I want to impress visitors in the same way your team has so graciously done for me.”

2. Outline What You Can Walk Through the Doors and Deliver

This isn’t you making a general proclamation of, “Hey, I’m great. I swear!” You need to scrutinize the job description and use whatever other information you’ve gathered about the opening, determine the key requirements and priorities for this job, and make it instantly clear to the reviewer that you can deliver the goods on these key things.

Example

Consider crafting a section within the letter that begins with, “Here’s what, specifically, I can deliver in this role.” And then expound upon your strengths in a few of the priority requirements for that role (they’re typically listed first on the job description or mentioned more than once).

3. Tell a Story, One That’s Not on Your Resume

As humans, we love stories far more than we love data sheets. (OK, I speak for most humans). So, what’s your story? What brings you to this company? Did you used to sing along to all of its commercials as a kid? Did the product make some incredible difference in your life? Do you sometimes pull into the parking lot and daydream about what it would feel like to work there? Tell your story. Just make sure you have a great segue. Random trivia can come across as weird.

Example

Say you’re applying for a marketing job with a baked goods company known for its exquisite tarts and pies. You may want to weave a sentence or two into your cover letter about how you took the blue ribbon in the National Cherry Festival pie eating contest when you were 10, and that you’ve been a pie fanatic ever since. (Yes, this was me, but I actually came in second place. Sigh.)

4. Address the Letter to an Actual Person Within the Company

Not one employee at your future new company is named “To Whom it May Concern,” so knock that off. You’ve got to find a real person to whom you can direct this thing.

This seems so hard or overwhelming, but it’s often easier than you may think. Just mosey over to LinkedIn and do a People search using the company’s name as your search term. Scroll through the people working at that company until you find someone who appears to be the hiring manager. If you can’t find a logical manager, try locating an internal recruiter, the head of staffing or, in smaller companies, the head of HR. Address your masterpiece to that person. Your effort will be noted and appreciated.



And a last, critical factor when it comes to delivering a great cover letter: Be you. Honest, genuine writing always goes much, much further than sticking to every dumb rule you’ve ever read in stale, outdated career guides and college textbooks.

Rules can be bent. In fact, if you truly want that amazing job with the brilliant co-workers, cool boss, and fresh, free snacks? They should be.

That's awesome to hear, because connecting great people to great jobs is kinda our thing.

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