“What is an LOI?” and “How do I write an LOI?” are two questions new grant seekers frequently ask. An LOI is a Letter of Intent (or Inquiry) that is your opportunity to introduce your project to a potential funder. Many grant funders (also known as grantors) request an LOI as the first phase of the funding process which hopefully leads to an invitation for you to submit a full grant proposal. Subsequently, the LOI is your opportunity to make a great first impression, so knowing how to write an LOI is vital to your grant-seeking journey. Below are some tips to help you put your best foot forward.
The Makeup of an LOI
The grantor may give specific instructions for the LOI requested. It’s important to carefully review the application guidelines before beginning to write. Follow every direction and dot the i’s and cross the t’s. Do not leave anything out!
According to Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch, “an LOI is a very concise grant application. It contains all the parts written as briefly as possible in a manner that piques the interest of the potential funder. Upon reading your LOI, if they want to read more, you will get an invite to apply.”
An LOI (Letter of Intent) for a grant typically includes the following parts:
When there are no clear-cut instructions or online forms to complete, your LOI should follow a business-letter structure. Use your organization’s letterhead. Your organization’s address should appear at the top or on the right-hand side and your recipient’s address must be on the left. Since the LOI is written in business-letter style, you, or someone you hire, must write it professionally. It is best to avoid any general terminology when addressing the recipient.
The opening paragraph should state the purpose of the LOI and the funding opportunity you are pursuing. It is imperative to do your research about the funding source before you submit your LOI to decipher how to best stand out to the potential funder. You should be sure to include how your project fits the funder’s interests and guidelines.
Write a summary of the history of your program which includes an overview of the organization or the individual submitting the LOI. Include the mission, history, and previous experience in the relevant field.
Programs and Objectives
Next, your description is a detailed description of the project to be funded and must align with the project goal you seek to achieve if you receive the funding. Additionally, include your target audience and the geographic areas in which the project will be run. Elaborate on your goals, objectives, methods and expected outcomes. It is essential to incorporate specifics, such as statistics, program names and so forth.
The LOI should include a detailed budget for the project, outlining the costs of each component and the total amount of funding requested.
Equally important, explain if you have received funding from other sources and how much you received. Furthermore, it is important that you mention any other grants to which you have also applied for funding.
This section should provide a timeline for the project, outlining when key milestones will be reached and when the project will be completed.
This section should describe how the success of the project will be evaluated, including the criteria that will be used to measure progress and outcomes.
The LOI should end with a clear statement of the applicant’s commitment to the project, and a request for grant funding.
Signing the LOI
In addition, thank the funder for the opportunity to submit an LOI and potentially apply for the grant. When signing the letter, use business salutations such as “Respectfully” or “Best regards.”
Then, very carefully review the LOI. For instance, check that you have proper spelling and grammar, along with accurate facts, and be sure that you’ve included everything necessary to guarantee that you meet all guidelines. To conclude, ensure that your LOI provides the best possible impression of your organization!
You should have all of the “stakeholders” in your organization review your LOI. This includes key staff and any others involved in making decisions that impact the project or program the grant would fund. Once reviewed and finalized, you then submit your LOI to the funding source. In the end, you will wait for a message from the funder, either by mail or via email, as to whether or not you have been accepted to submit a grant proposal to the grantor.
You (or the professional grant writer you’ve hired) need to take the time to make sure the LOI includes rich content to describe what your organization does and why it is the strongest fit for the grant you want to receive. A well-crafted Letter of Intent can make all the difference in the grant application process! We wish you luck on your grant-seeking journey.