How to Write A Winning LOI (Letter of Intent)

What Belongs in Your LOI 

The defining intentions of a Letter of Intent are extensive. An LOI contains vital material for both the applying organization and the funding source. Your LOI is also your first chance to make a positive, lasting impression on the grantor. In addition, a strong LOI will better position your organization to secure an invitation to complete a full grant application.

LOIs provide the funding source with information and insights, which help grantors determine which organizations are most appropriate to apply for their grant. The number of Letters of Intent received and where they are most commonly coming from also provide the grantor with a scope of how many organizations are interested in the grant. These metrics help the funding source plan for its staff, allowing them to be aware of the time it will take to review the upcoming proposals.

Submitting your LOI places you on the grantor’s mailing list, ensuring you will receive any future addenda and modifications for that particular grant. This includes deadline changes. When crafting an LOI, you must also remember that what you include in your letter of intent may determine whether you can submit a full grant application.  The LOI is your opportunity for a great first impression. Don’t take this opportunity for granted by submitting minimal information or a subpar presentation.

Take the time (or hire a professional grant writer) to compose an LOI with rich content that explains why your organization is the strongest fit for the grant. Research the funding source for information that will best summarize your strengths in a way that speaks to the specific grant. A well-crafted Letter of Intent can make all the difference in the grant application process!

Tips for Writing a Winning LOI (Letter of Intent) 

If there is an application form for the LOI, follow the directions very carefully.

  1. Your LOI should be a brief, yet effective one-page letter with a full proposal. Depending on the requirements of the funding source, your LOI may be as long as three pages.
  2. It should be structured like a business letter and submitted on professional letterhead. Be sure that your organization’s address appears on the letterhead or on the right-hand side. The recipient’s address should appear on the left-hand side of the document.
  3. Use the specific name of the recipient on your LOI.  Avoid using any general terminology such as “Dear Sir” or “To whom it may concern.”
  4. The introduction provided in your LOI might be the most important part of your letter. Make sure you have provided a concise, attention-grabbing summary with enticing information to inspire the reader.
  5. Don’t forget to include the name of your organization. Define the grant you are applying for and/or the amount of money you are requesting. LOIs should also include a short description of the project and how it fits.
  6. Your LOI is also a chance to provide a brief outline of your nonprofit and its related programs and initiatives. Connect what you currently do to what you want to accomplish with the grantor’s funding.
  7. Include a description of your ideal population and geographic area.  Additionally, incorporate statistical facts about what you are doing and hope to do, as well as specific examples of successes and needs.
  8. Briefly elaborate on objectives to stand out from the competition. You should also describe how you plan on using the funding in a way that best fits the goals of the funder’s grant.
  9. You should also describe the project succinctly. Include major activities along with the names and titles of key project staff members to create a personal connection. This will place you in a better position to get an invitation to submit a full grant application.
  10. Always review the LOI guidelines before submitting to ensure you have met all provided requirements of the grantor. Failing to include any of the requested fields of information could cause your LOI to be disregarded.
  11. In closing, thank the funding source for their time and consideration. Use proper business salutations, such as “Sincerely” or “Respectfully.”  Also, remember to avoid any lengthy or overly friendly closing statements. Be brief, professional, and memorable.

Fact: The terms “Letter of Intent” and “Letter of Inquiry” are interchangeable and one in the same.

Bonus Tip: Within your LOI, be sure to communicate to the grantor that your nonprofit is ready to show the related projects in person. The grantor should know that you are eager and prepared to show off your grant-related programs firsthand.  

May your LOI open the door to your successful winning of grants!