Motivation Letter: What You Should Know

A motivation letter is an introductory document that accompanies other application documents. In Kenya, motivation letters are usually requested by universities, non-governmental organizations, some startups and also some companies. Organizations that request for motivation letters are usually looking for something more than just qualifications in their candidates. They look for attributes like passion, sound ideologies, and a strong sense of purpose.

The difference between cover letters and motivation letters is that the latter are used when one is applying for something like a course in a university or college, internship or volunteering positions in non-governmental organizations and sometimes in entry-level jobs. The purpose of the motivation letter is mainly to persuade the organization that you are the best candidate to join them. In a motivation letter you need to explain why the specific activity, course, program, internship or volunteering opportunity interests you. Cover letters on the other hand,  are used when one is applying for a job.

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You might be already familiar with a cover letter and how to write one, this article explores the motivation letter and advises on how to write one, just in case you ever need to, or know someone who does.

Tips When Writing a Motivation Letter

  • Make it personal – The recipients of motivation letter will not be amused if they feel your letter sounds copied or false. Make this letter as personal as possible. Make it sound like you are genuinely interested in the company, its goals and mission. For instance, someone applying for a management trainee position can say “I have always admired your company’s engagement with its surrounding community. I have visited some of the community outreach events and thoroughly enjoyed myself. (Give example).” This is an experience that brings out your genuine outlook of the company. On the same point, if you know the person to whom the motivation letter is addressed by name, use their name in the salutations. It creates better rapport for you.
  • Give honest and authentic examples – This goes without saying. Lying on your motivation letter beats the very logic of writing one. A motivation letter should showcase your interest in joining a particular organization and your personal inspiration behind it. Lying disqualifies it all. Never fabricate examples as your interviewer may decide to follow up, and you will keep lying to cover previously told fibs. In some organizations, lying during an interview is tantamount to gross misconduct and the penalty is summary dismissal once the lie is discovered, regardless of how far you had gone.
  • The power of positivity – There is no need writing a motivation letter that reeks of negativity and a gloomy attitude. Everyone is attracted to a positive aura, so make your motivation letter upbeat and buoyant. Let anyone reading it actually want to meet you. Talk about your relevant qualifications and skills and stick to the strengths that make you suitable for the positions. For instance, where you lack experience, don’t say ‘I lack experience but I am a fast learner.’ Instead, say ‘I look forward to applying the skills and knowledge I have to help move your organization to the next level as I learn and adapt for better efficiency.’
  • It’s about the company – Mention why you chose the particular company. Say something unique that attracted you to them. Conduct thorough research about the company and mention a few facts that stand out for you. This will appeal to the reader and they will be impressed by your knowledge of their operations.
  • General rules of writing – Ensure that you state your purpose for writing, your letter should be brief and to the point, your spelling and grammar should be double-checked and your language easy to understand.

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Below is a short sample of a motivation letter for an internship position with a non-governmental organization.


Ann Mkenya,

P.O Box 2354,



M/s Cecilia Mzalendo,

ABC Outreach for the blind,

P.O Box 344457,


31st March 2016.


Dear M/s Mzalendo,

Ref: Application for an Internship Position In your Organization (Motivation Letter)

I would like to apply for a 6-month internship position in your esteemed organization starting in May 2016. I have a degree in Community Development and a certificate in project management. I was recently attached at World Vision for 3 months rotating within the projects, proposal writing and community outreach departments.

I have chosen your organization because the plight of visually-impaired members of the society is a cause close to my heart, since I have been brought up by a visually-impaired parent. I appreciate the work you have done, especially in the remote areas of Kenya. I would, therefore relish the opportunity to be part of a team that is responsible for positive and  tangible difference in the society.

My course and previous experience with non-governmental organizations have exposed me to the glaring needs in our society; and I would be grateful for a chance to learn more on managing projects and teams, writing proposals, creating and managing budgets and giving back to the society, among other intricacies of working in non-governmental organizations.

An internship with you is of great interest to me and I look forward to hear from you soon.

Please find attached my CV and academic credentials for your perusal and consideration.


Ann Mkenya,

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Date published: 22/09/2017
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