How to Write a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) to a Foundation

More Than a Mini Proposal

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Many foundations now want you to send a letter of inquiry (LOI) rather than a full grant proposal when first asking for grant money.

Some foundations find that it is faster to make that first cut of possible funding ideas if they are just looking at a 2-3 page letter rather than a full proposal package. Once the foundation decides that your project may be a good fit for its goals and funding priorities, it may ask that you send a full-blown proposal.

What Should You Include? 

The letter of inquiry is very similar to a proposal except that it is short...a mini-proposal. You might draw the elements of the LOI from a grant proposal that you have already written, and that may even be partially funded. Or you may use the information that you are in the process of putting together for a proposal.

Sending an LOI before you complete a proposal is a way to get valuable feedback that you can use to revise your proposal ideas.

Here are the common elements of the typical letter of inquiry:

  • Introduction

    The introduction is a short executive summary. It includes the name of your organization, the amount of money being requested, and a description of the project involved. You'll want to indicate how the project fits with the funder's guidelines and funding interests.

  • Organizational Description

    Be concise and concentrate on your organization's ability to meet the need that you've stated. Give a brief history of your nonprofit and provide an overview of your programs. Make sure to connect directly what you currently do and what you want to accomplish with the funding that is requested.

  • Statement of Need

    Explain the need that can be met by your project. Describe the target population and geographic area. Provide a few significant statistical facts and several examples.

  • Methodology

    How will you solve the need? Describe the project succinctly and include the major activities, names, and titles of key project staff, and your project's objectives.

  • Other Funding Sources

    If you are approaching other entities for support of this project, mention them in a brief paragraph. Include already secured funding if you have that and indicate how you expect to support the project activities after the initial period.

  • Summary

    Restate the intent of your project, explain that you are ready to answer additional questions and thank the funder for his or her time and consideration. Include any attachments that are consistent with the funder's guidelines. 

A budget may or may not be required for your letter of inquiry. Check the funder's guidelines. Some guidelines are very specific, and it is important to follow them exactly.

Review the elements of a full proposal before attempting the letter of inquiry. You can see samples of actual LOIs in the Foundation Center's excellent book, The Foundation Center's Guide to Winning Proposals.

Here is a sample LOI.

John Hunter
Program Officer
Anywhere Community Foundation
625 Smith St.
Any City, XN 28905

Dear Mr. Hunter:

Thank you for reading this letter of inquiry to your Anywhere Community Foundation. We hope to determine your interest in receiving a full proposal for our Any City Senior Center's Women's Outreach Pilot Program. We are respectfully requesting your consideration of a grant of $35,000.

This project is our first outreach to senior women in their homes. We are finding more and more elderly women are staying in their homes when they cannot get out to visit facilities such as our Senior Center. 

We plan to provide socialization opportunities, health and wellness information, and social services when needed to women who are isolated from the community.

 Our pilot program fits squarely within your Foundation's areas of interest: health services for seniors in Anywhere County; increasing outreach to the home-bound elderly; and helping providers of elder services to achieve greater reach within our community.

Any City Senior Center, established in 1985, is the largest senior center in our county, serving more than 400 seniors each day at our recently remodeled facility. 

Our mission is to help seniors improve and maintain healthy, independent lifestyles through improvements in their quality of life. 

Our satisfaction rate among the elders we serve is a very high 95%, according to our latest survey. We provide nutritious lunches, social opportunities, physical exercise opportunities, and educational events throughout the year.

The senior population of our county is expected to increase by 30% over the next two decades. Many of those seniors are at or below poverty income levels and are physically challenged to some degree. 

Some of these home-bound elders can be brought to our community center with our existing fleet of five vans that currently transport 25-35 clients each day.

However, expanding the transportation system is costly and will not allow us to expand our services enough for the increased number of home-bound seniors, some of whom cannot leave their homes at all.

Consequently, we are proposing the Any City Senior Center's Women's Outreach Pilot Program to test the practicality of bringing services to individuals in their homes. 

We think that by using volunteers, supervised by one professional staff member (a social worker), that we can help expand the horizons of a significant number of home-bound senior women.

We have limited our pilot to women because of the preponderance of single women seniors in our community. If the pilot is successful, of course, we would want to expand our programs to include men and couples who are home-bound.

Our one-year pilot program objectives include:

 1) establishing once-weekly visits to 50 home-bound women; 

2) recruiting 100 volunteers to make those visits on a rotating basis (many of the volunteers we expect to recruit from our current elders who visit our facility); and 

3) improving the health and activity levels of those visited as measured by several available survey tools, used at pre-set intervals throughout the year.

Some of the activities that we plan to include in our home visits include: 

  • cooking lessons that incorporate easy-to-prepare and nutritious food; 
  • teaching simple exercise routines suitable to each elder's physical condition; 
  • the introduction of socialization through the playing of board and card games; 
  • simple tests of mental capacities, 
  • and the introduction of standard methods of combating loneliness and depression, loss of memory, and lack of mental stimulation.

The total cost of our pilot program for one year is $70,000. Half of that has already been committed from both the county government and other funders. 

Your investment of $35,000 will complete the funding we need to implement the pilot project fully. Our board of directors is enthusiastic about the project, and we already have many volunteers who have expressed interest.

We look forward to partnering with your foundation on this exciting project. 

If you have any questions or would like to receive a full proposal, please feel free to contact me at 490-982-1157 (or by email at 

We sincerely appreciate your consideration of our request and look forward to hearing from you soon.


Janet B. Feelgood
Executive Director
Any City Senior Center

P.S. I enclose our latest annual report and catalog of activities offered at our Senior Center.

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