This glossary will be populated over time with definitions of some of the most common words and phrases associated with grant writing and fundraising.

Grantmaker and Grantseeker: The grantmaker (a.k.a., grantor or funder) makes grant awards to grantseekers (or grantees). There are three major types of grantmakers: private foundations, corporate foundations, and government agencies.

Letter of Inquiry: A letter of inquiry (LOI) is a kind of mini-proposal that succinctly describes your organization, the project or program for which you are seeking funding, and how that project or program aligns with the grant funder’s own goals. Unless otherwise stated, it is written in letter format and should be no more than three pages long. The purpose of an LOI is to demonstrate an authentic fit between your agency and the grantmaker. While some funders very occasionally make awards based on the strength of a letter of inquiry, such instances are rare; the real goal is to be invited to submit a full proposal. Letters of inquiry are infrequently referred to as letters of intent, but letters of intent usually something quite different (see below).

Letter of Intent: Though this term is sometimes used interchangeably with letter of inquiry, letters of intent are usually different. A letter of intent is requested by funders who want to gauge the interest in a grant program, and to ensure that they have enough reviewers (and reviewers with the right kind of expertise) to effectively evaluate grant applications. In my own experience, it is most often government agencies who request letters of intent as a courtesy.

Objectives: Objectives are the clearly-defined results you expect to achieve as a result of your project or program. They should flow out of the need you have identified, or the timely opportunity you want to take advantage of. And they should be addressed by your project activities you. To write a great objective, follow the acronym S.M.A.R.T. Make them Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

Requests for Proposals: Funders release a Request for Proposals (RFP) to distribute the details of a grant opportunity. The RFP includes information about the deadline, submission process (electronic or snail mail), application format (page or word limits, required attachments, etc.), the information you need to provide about your organization and program, contact information, and more. Sometimes the RFP also includes a helpful scoring rubric. They are also sometimes referred to as Requests for Applications, or RFAs.