What is a Letter of Inquiry?

A Letter of Inquiry (LOI) is your first chance to make a positive impression on a potential grant maker for your organization. It allows the foundation to quickly assess if there is a good match between the foundation’s interests and your program. If it appears to be a good match, they will often request a full proposal.

 Where do I begin?

Do your research on the foundations giving priorities before writing to ensure you are in alignment with their goals. One way to do this is to view their 990’s on Guidestar.org. You can see who they have supported in the past.

How do I write a winning LOI?

A well-crafted LOI should be concise (typically 1-3 pages). If the foundation gives their preference, do not go over. Follow their guidelines. A short LOI can still be attention-grabbing and highly engaging. The University of Massachusetts provides an excellent list of components to include:


Opening Paragraph: Your summary statement.

  • If the reviewer reads nothing else they should know what you want to do from reading this paragraph. Make it clear what you want the reader to do; for example, consider funding the project. Answer the following: Who wants to do what? How much is being requested? Is this a portion of a larger project cost? Over what period of time is money being requested?


Statement of Need: The “why” of the project.

  • Explain what issue you are addressing.
  • Explain why you have chosen to respond to this set of issues in the way that you have.
  • State briefly why this matters in the area in which you will be working.
  • Note who benefits. Make sure you can indicate the public good achieved.


Project Activity: The “what” and “how” of the project.

  • Give an overview of the activities involved. Give details to the degree that space allows.
  • Highlight why your approach is novel and deserving of the special attention that funding connotes.
  • Indicate if there will be collaboration with other organizations and what their roles will be. Be specific about who does what.



  • State the specific outcomes you hope to achieve.
  • Indicate how evaluation is part of the project. How will you know you’ve achieved these outcomes?



  • Demonstrate why your institution or your staff is best equipped to carry out this activity.
  • Put any historic background about the institution here.
  • Brag with substance. Indicate awards, rankings, and tangible measures that set you apart from your peers.



  • General description of the projects funding needs and total amount of request.



  • Offer to give any additional information the foundation might need. Include a contact name and contact information.
  • Express appreciation for the reader’s attention, or for the opportunity to submit if it is in response to a Request for Proposals (RFP).
  • Specifically indicate you are interested in discussing the project and will “contact their office” by a certain date (allowing time for them to receive and read the letter).



To learn more about grant writing, visit Grant Space. 



A good fundraising strategy should be diverse. Grants are just a piece of the pie! Do you need help developing your annual funding plan? A successful plan must contain SMART goals, draw from historical data, be measurable and hold your organization accountable. We can help! On average our clients see 25% + increase in funds raised. We’d love to connect with you to discuss our coaching programs.

Learn more at www.MinistryVentures.org.

Questions? Contact me anytime!

Emily Fitchpatrick, Director of Client Services