LOIs, or letters of inquiry, are an important first step in the grant writing process. Often, funders ask to see this short, pre-proposal before they look at a full proposal. If your LOI is strong, you’ll move on to the next round.
To write a successful LOI, keep the following in mind:
- Place the “ask” early in the letter. Within the first paragraph, you should state your intent and mention the amount of money you’re looking to acquire from the funder.
- In a few sentences, describe the need of the population you serve. Select the most compelling, hard-hitting statistics you have and present them clearly and succinctly.
- Clearly outline how your nonprofit will use the money you’re asking for. This shows you’ve got a solid plan in place and are ready to put the funds to good use.
- State why your nonprofit is prepared to do complete the tasks at hand — and succeed at solving the problems described earlier. What is your track record, and why are you a credible grantee?
- End with an invitation to call or visit. Show the grantmaker that your nonprofit is happy to answer questions or meet for an in-person conversation. Offer a site visit opportunity, too, so the grantor can see the programs first hand.
Keep your letter to just one or two pages maximum, unless otherwise specified by a foundation’s guidelines. It can’t hurt to include your 501c3 letter, budgets, and any brochures or annual reports that demonstrate your achievements. Just be sure to follow the foundation’s guidelines on this part — if they ask for something different, or say they specifically do not want attachments, go with their rules above all else.