Grants Sample Letter of Inquiry
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What Should Be Included in a Letter of Inquiry? One View
In recent years, letters of inquiry have become an important part of the fundraising process. Many foundations now prefer that funding requests be submitted first in letter format instead of a full proposal. Others are using preliminary letters of inquiry to determine if they have an interest in a project before accepting a full proposal.
In either instance, it is important to recognize that a well-written letter of inquiry is crucial to securing funding for your project. An effective letter of inquiry is often more difficult to write than a full proposal. The letter of inquiry should be brief--no more than three pages--and must be a succinct but thorough presentation of the need or problem you have identified, the proposed solution, and your organization's qualifications for implementing that solution.
The letter of inquiry should be addressed to the appropriate contact person at a foundation or to its CEO and should be sent by regular mail.
Elements of a Letter of Inquiry
Not unlike a grant proposal, the letter of inquiry should include: an introduction, a description of your organization, a statement of need, your methodology, a brief discussion of other funding sources, and a final summary.
The introduction serves as the executive summary for the letter of inquiry and includes the name of your organization, the amount needed or requested, and a description of the project. The qualifications of project staff, a brief description of evaluative methodology, and a timetable are also included here. This should not exceed one paragraph.
Description of Your Organization
The organization description should be concise and focus on the ability of your organization to meet the stated need. Provide a very brief history and description of your current programs while demonstrating a direct connection between what is currently being done and what you wish to accomplish with the requested funding. You will flesh this section out in greater detail if you are invited to submit a full proposal.
Statement of Need
The statement of need is an essential element of the letter of inquiry and must convince the reader that there is an important need that can be met by your project. The statement of need includes: a description of the target population and geographical area; appropriate statistical data in abbreviated form; and several concrete examples.
The methodology should be appropriate to your statement of need and present a clear, logical and achievable solution to the stated need. Describe the project briefly, including major activities, names and titles of key project staff, and your desired objectives. As with the organization description, this will be presented in far greater detail in a full proposal.
Other Funding Sources
Other funding sources being approached for support of this project should be listed in a brief sentence or paragraph.
The final summary restates the intent of the project, affirms your readiness to answer further questions, and thanks the potential funder for its consideration.
Note: attachments should be included only at the direction of the potential funder and should be specific to its application guidelines.
To learn more about proposal writing, take the Foundation Centers online tutorial, Proposal Writing Short Course. The Foundation Center also offers a full-day proposal writing seminar in various locations around the country.
There are a number of resources that provide information on letters of inquiry. These books can be checked out:
- The Foundation Center's Guide to Proposal Writing
- Grassroots Grants: An Activist's Guide to Grantseeking
- Winning Grants Step by Step: Support Centers of America's Complete Workbook for Planning, Developing and Writing Successful Proposals
Sample Letter of Inquiry
City, State, Zip
The (Your Organization) seeks support of $XX,XXX from the ABC/XYZ Foundation for (seed money, general support, project support, publications support, etc.) of our (special project).  We are grateful for the support we received from the ABC/XYZ Foundation in 19XX for (description) and think this new proposal may be of comparable interest to your foundation.  We think this project is very much aligned with ABC/XYZ goals in (field of interest, other funded projects or guideline statement).
Our organization, established in 19XX, is serving the (geographical) community with our services: (List). Recently we were honored by (description) for (accomplishment). (Insert one or two other accomplishments of entire organization.)
The project for which we request funds will make a difference in the lives of (such and such clientele) in the following way: (insert specifics of plan). The project will take the X amount of time, X amount of $$$$ and we expect the following concrete results: [a], [b], and [c].
We have received (grant support, contributions, inkind, volunteer, volunteer staff help, etc.) in the early stages. Support the first year will come from [a], [b], and [c] and the project will (be complete at that time or supported in the future by [a], [b], and [c]).
We invite you visit the project and we will call by (date) (or within two weeks) to arrange your visit. We will be glad to submit a full proposal with additional information for your further review.
Your Complete Phone Number
Publication of McClellan Funding Information Library, San Mateo, California-April 1993 (Rev.)