A Winning LOI

letterwinning

More and more often lately, grant funders require grant seekers to submit what is called an “LOI” as a first step to applying for a grant. An LOI — or Letter of Inquiry, or Letter of Intent — is an abbreviated version of a full application, and as the name implies, is often in letter form.

So when you have to condense all you want to accomplish with your project or program into a few short paragraphs, what is the best approach to take? How do you limit what you say and still get all the juicy bits in, in just a page or two?

The first thing to remember is to be brief and to the point.  The second thing to remember is to be logical and systematic.

Start with a powerful first paragraph, explaining what the absolute crux of the issue is, and how the need is urgent! Cite one compelling piece of evidence or research to back up your statement of need.

In the following paragraph, introduce your organization as the “hero,” the single best nonprofit to address this urgent need. Include your mission statement or tag line, years of service, and single greatest accomplishment that sets you apart.

By the third paragraph, you’ve set yourself up to speak — briefly! — about how you will accomplish your objective. Broad strokes should be your byword here. Simply state, in logical steps, how what you plan to do will address the need you have stated exists. Try to avoid too much detail. And remember, at this point it’s less about HOW you will do it and more about WHAT you will accomplish (or WHO you will serve).

Your closing paragraph should restate in one simple sentence how you will answer the unmet need. Thank the funder for their consideration, and supply contact information in case there are questions. Or in case they want a full proposal!

Best of luck!

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