The letter of inquiry (LOI) is a short and condensed version of the grant proposal that allows a potential funder to pre-screen the applicants and weed out the projects they are not interested in. In fact, most foundations prefer that you submit a LOI rather than a full grant proposal at the initial contact.
Although it is not considered a full grant proposal, it does contain much of the same information but concise and precise. The purpose of the LOI is to allow foundations screen through multiple applicants in a short period of time and select projects for a full proposal request. A letter of inquiry gives a funder a so called “sneak-peak” of your project.
LOIs are typically short, 1-2 pages long. However, we recommend that you take it as seriously as a full proposal package. Make sure that you take your time to edit it, as it increases your chance to make a good impression on the grantor.
When writing an LOI, you should draw the elements from a grant proposal already written. A typical LOI you should cover the following elements:
Preface/Opening Paragraph. You should start the letter with the summary of the document, describing what you are proposing to do, the length of the project, and how much money you need.
Statement of Need. Explain the need that your project will target, who is affected by this problem and how your project intends to solve it. Include a few pertinent statistical facts or research.
Description of the Organization. Briefly describe the history of your organization, mission, and major recent accomplishments. Make sure that the programs you are currently offering and the project you are seeking funding for are in line and consistent.
Project Description. Concisely describe project’s goals and objectives, methods of achieving results, the outcomes the project will receive, number of targeted participants, and anticipated starting and ending dates. If you already reached out to other funders and received some funding from them, include that information as well. That will be a significant plus for your nonprofit’s chances to get this grant.
Closing Statement. Connect the project’s purpose with the funder’s interests. Thank the funder for their attention and consideration. Include your contact information and a follow up method. Attach other documents (if any) requested by funder in the guidelines (budget may not be required for LOI, but check the guidelines carefully).