Writing a Letter of Inquiry

A letter of inquiry (sometimes called letter of intent – the shorthand for both is LOI) can be the first step in a funder’s grantmaking process. You may be asked to submit an LOI after engaging in the relationship building strategies described above. Or you may be submitting an LOI “cold” – with no prior contact – in hopes that it will be well-received by the funder and result in a phone conversation, meeting, or invitation to submit a full proposal. An LOI provides the funder with a “sneak peek” at the organization, target audience, and prospective program, without requiring the grant seeker to develop a full proposal at this early stage. After the funder has reviewed the information presented in the LOI, the organization may or may not be invited to submit a full proposal. Even though an LOI is a preliminary step, it should be treated as a vital part of relationship building. It is an integral early interaction of what grant seekers hope will be many interactions with the funder. The first step is to check to see whether the funder has specific LOI guidelines. If it does not, the following guidelines cover what information to include, as a general rule: • The organization’s mission, history, accomplishments ,related programs • The need the organization or program meets and who it serves • The outcomes expected from the organization’s project • General details of how the organization will conduct the project • How the projector organization aligns with the funder’s priorities • Organizational or project budget and funding need • Basic attachments maybe required during the LOI stage, including organizational budget and IRS determination letter. Be sure to check the requirements.

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