Grant Writers Tip 6
Letter of Inquiry
Most grant foundations begin the grant seeking process with a request to submit a letter of inquiry. The most common components of this letter are as follows:
Some letters may additionally request:
What happens to this letter?
In most cases, the foundation staff, in consultation with its advisory committees, review the letter of inquiry for:
In short, the letter of inquiry enables the foundation program staff to determine the relevance of the proposed project to the foundation's programs and to provide advice on whether to submit a full proposal.
In a sense, it is nearly impossible to write a highly effective letter of inquiry without engaging in significant project planning and research activities, including “word smithing”.
Initially, the applicant needs to locate foundations and then research each foundation’s program priorities. This is vital to ensure that your letter is framed in a way that supports a foundation’s priority grant areas.
With respect to your project, you will need to engage in background research to be able to describe the significance of your project. You will want to be familiar with the research already conducted in your project area.
You will also want to identify two-three issues derived from the research, which your project will address.
Throughout this entire process you will want to continually cross check your project focus and issues with the research findings and the foundation priorities. This will ensure that all three basic components – foundation priority, your project focus, research – are aligned and supportive.
Your next pre-letter planning activity will be to “sell” and “market” in succinct language your organizational capacity.
You will need to plan your project carefully in order to answer two other critical questions:
While you will not need to include a detailed budget or action plan, you will have to think through all the associated costs of your project and the length of time it will require to implement and show results.
Staff and Structure
You’ll need to gather some information on the qualifications of your key project staff and required documents pertaining to your organization’s structure and tax status.
The Art of The Letter
Most foundations require that the letter not exceed two pages. The breadth of information required for this very short letter means that you must convey the information in concise language.
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