Letters of Intent and How to Write Them

To those just entering in to the grant writing world, it may surprise you to learn that grant writing isn’t just about writing grants. While writing the actual grant proposal is the meat and potatoes of the job as those at GrantWriterTeam.com can attest, there is a first step that many grant providers will require before even allowing you to submit a full proposal. That first step is the Letter of Intent or Letter of Inquiry, better known as an LOI.

What is a Letter of Intent?

At its core, an LOI is a concise document describing your interest in a grant opportunity, the organization you represent and how you intend to use the grant money should it be awarded to you. It may help to think of an LOI like a cover letter for a job application. It is designed to generate interest from a grant provider, as well as act as an opportunity to request further details and materials regarding the grant in question. Submitting an LOI will place you on the provider’s mailing list, allowing you to stay up to date with any changes to or modifications to your application, including deadline changes.

How does an LOI Help a Grant Provider?

For the grant provider, an LOI gauges general interest in their grant offering and informs them just how many grant applications they may expect to receive. This will allow them to prepare accordingly in advance of the grant deadline date. LOIs also allow them to filter out only the proposals that are of interest to them. To this end, a funding source will occasionally not publish a deadline until the LOIs have been submitted. In this case, GrantWatch will list the LOI deadline as the proposal due date. This means that an LOI is mandatory and must be submitted before the deadline. GrantWatch will update the grant when the grantor is ready to provide further information.

What does it look like?

While a grant provider will usually provide an outline of what they’re looking for, all LOIs tend to adhere to a similar format. They are typically a brief, one- to two-page document that introduces your organization, your project and goals, and the strategy you intend to employ to meet those goals. It explains how you intend to use the grant should it be awarded to you. An LOI should also include your organization’s contact information, a statement of need and a short discussion of other funding sources. The end should provide a brief final summary of your project.

LOI Tips

An LOI should be informative and concise. Below is a breakdown of tips to help write and format your LOI:

  1. The LOI should be a brief, one- to two-page informative letter that outlines your full proposal.
  2. An LOI is a business letter. Write it on official letterhead that includes your company’s name and address.
  3. Review the grantor’s guidelines for the LOI. Make sure you fulfill all of their requirements.
  4. Address your LOI to a specific recipient whenever possible. Try to avoid vague general salutations.
  5. The opening of your letter should include the name of your organization, the grant you are applying for, the amount of money you are requesting and a short description of your project. Be sure to stress how your project fits into the funder’s interests.
  6. Provide a brief history of your organization and its programs. Connect what you currently do with what you would like to accomplish. Include a breakdown of your target demographic and geographic area. Back this up with statistics and facts.
  7. Explain your plan and how you intend to use the funding. Describe major activities and key project staff.
  8. Mention any other funding sources you are applying to, as well as any funding you have already secured. Summarize your goal and explain how the funds will help you execute
  9. Attach any additional documents that are helpful to presenting your case.

Often, grant providers can become overwhelmed with grant proposals. Letters of Intent allow them to be discerning and select only the proposals that they believe best fit their interests. A well-written LOI can make you stand out and put you on the short list to getting the funding your organization needs.

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