A letter of inquiry (LOI) is often the first step to opening a conversation with a grantmaker and — hopefully — receiving funding. Think of an LOI as a mini-proposal. Just like a full proposal, it has to grab the reader’s attention, give important details, and prove that your project or program is worth funding. All within one to three pages.
Some foundations request an LOI in lieu of a full proposal while others use the LOI as a first step in determining initial interest. If it goes over well, they may request a full proposal next.
Some foundations will request certain information in a specified format in an LOI. Others are more open-ended. If you have an open-ended call for an LOI of unspecified length, keep it to three pages at most and include the following:
- Introduction: This section should summarize the entire LOI, including a brief overview of the sections to follow. Name your organization, your program, and specify the amount requested.
- Organization description: Detail your organization’s qualifications and successes, as well as current programs.
- Statement of need: Describe the unmet need that will be fulfilled by your project. Use concrete data.
- Proposed program: Detail the program the grant will fund, tying in the need you stated earlier. Summarize the major activities and the objectives.
- Other funding sources: Show you have other partners in the project. Name specific funders and amounts.
- Closing: Thank the funder for their time, invite them for a site visit, let them know who they can call or email if they have questions, and sum up your letter.
If the funder requests attachments, be sure to list what you’ve attached to the letter.
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