How to write an LOI that opens doors

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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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?
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  • 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.
 

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