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This is the fourth in a series of five articles on letters of inquiry. Today, I have given you a template will help you develop content for your own letter of inquiry. Before reading on, you may want to check out the series Introduction. The featured image for each post is of a letter that changed the world. Today’s letter is one Einstein wrote to FDR in 1939, warning him of Germany’s nuclear ambitions.
Yesterday I laid out the nine essential elements of a letter of inquiry (LOI). I also included a sample letter of inquiry that utilized this design. But I recommend that you don’t jump straight into the writing process by typing “Dear So-and-So.” In fact, I wouldn’t even start writing full sentences yet.
Instead, begin by brainstorming content for your letter of inquiry by answering (just in bullet-point form) the following questions. Do this exercise with another member of your team and it will yield even more results.
Then create an outline.
And then start writing the letter.
Note: This template is available at the bottom of the page in two downloadable formats: PDF and Microsoft Word.
1. BUSINESS LETTER FORMAT
- Who is the appropriate contact person in the grantmaker’s office? If this isn’t specified on their website, elsewhere on the web, in Foundation Directly Online, or in a Foundation DataBook, call their office to find out. If even that doesn’t work, I recommend addressing the LOI to the executive director.
- What is the grantmaker’s address?
- Does your agency have official letterhead?
- How would you summarize your request in a single sentence: your organization’s name, your project’s name and its goals, etc.?
- How does the project fit with the grantmaker’s own stated priorities?
- Do you have a previous relationship with the grantmaker? If so, mention it here. For example, have they funded you in the past?
- Were you were invited to apply by someone in the organization? If so, mention that here, too.
3. ORGANIZATION OVERVIEW
- What year was your organization founded?
- What is your mission statement?
- What are your core programs?
- Who does your organization serve?
- What are some of your recent accomplishments? For example, how many people did you serve last year?
- What is the need your project or program is trying to address? Or, what is the timely opportunity your agency is trying to take advantage of?
- Who will you be serving? Who will benefit, both directly and indirectly?
- What is your service area?
- Why is this program important?
- What evidence (statistics, powerful anecdotes, observations) can you briefly cite to demonstrate that this is a program your target audience wants or needs?
5. PROGRAM OR PROJECT DESCRIPTION
- How you will address the need – or take advantage of the timely opportunity – that you identified above?
- What are the major activities?
- When will the project take place?
- Who will be doing the work?
- How many people will be served…if your project is geared toward serving people directly?
- If you are collaborating with another organization, what is their role?
- What results do you expect to achieve as a result of the project?
- Are those objectives Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-bound (S.M.A.R.T.)?
7. COST OF THE PROJECT
- What is the total cost of the project or program?
- Is this the total cost over one year, two years, three years, etc.?
- If you have a specific use in mind for the grantmaker’s funds, what is it?
- What other sources of support have you identified? Are those funds secured, pending, or planned?
- Are volunteer hours a significant contribution to this project?
- What would you like next from the grantmaker? (Probably the chance to submit a full application.)
- If the funder has questions, how can they get in touch with you?
- Who is the most senior organization who can sign this letter?
- Are you required to include any attachments?
LETTER OF INQUIRY TEMPLATE (DOWNLOAD)
To download the full letter of inquiry template, right-click on either of the links below:
Letter of Inquiry Template (Word)
The Grant Writing Process: 11 Basic Steps (PDF & Checklist)
Writing grants for your organization is an adventure.
You wouldn't set out on an epic hike without at least a general understanding of the terrain ahead. So why would you set out on your grantseeking journey without an overview of what lies in store?
This eight-page PDF and checklist are the perfect place to start.