What Is a Letter of Intent (LOI)?
A letter of intent (LOI) is a document that is designed to generate interest from a grant provider. It is a request for materials for a grant and it typically outlines the primary activities and projects of the organization that is applying for the grant. The LOI is usually written either by the organization’s director or the operations coordinator.
The pneumonic LOI has a few meanings in the grant-giving world and appears in many of our grant postings.
LOI = Letter of Intent, Letter of Interest
Often times a funding source wants a heads-up for how many organizations plan on applying for the grant or contract so that they can hire their review staff in advance of the grant deadline date. LOI also places you on the mailing list for all future addendums and modifications to that particular application, including deadline changes.
LOI = Letter of Inquiry.
Many funding sources require the submission of an initial, brief LOI rather than a full proposal. These letters are reviewed so that only projects of interest to the funding source are invited to submit a full proposal. Occasionally, a funding source will not publicize a proposal deadline until the LOIs have been submitted. In that case, our staff will list the LOI deadline on our site as the proposal due date until further information is provided.
On GrantWatch.com, when we list an LOI date at the top of a grant listing, it refers to a mandatory LOI. If the date has passed and you did not yet submit an LOI to the funding source, then, based on the rules of the funder, you can no longer apply. Those grants are archived on the GrantWatch.com site. When you visit our Tour our Archives page, you might find grants with a current deadline date but a passed LOI date.
The funding source usually provides an outline for the Letter of Inquiry. It is generally no more than two pages and contains an introduction to your project, contact information at your agency, a description of your organization, a statement of need, your methodology, a brief discussion of other funding sources and a final summary.
Many foundations ask for a LOI before requesting a full grant proposal. This helps the funder to weed out organizations that are the most appropriate to receive their offered grant. Organizations also use the LOI to assess how many staff are needed in order to review the upcoming proposals. More so, the LOI places you on their mailing list for all future addendums and modifications for that particular grant, including deadline changes.
LOI is a non-legally binding document that includes an introduction to your project, contact information at your agency, a description of your organization, a statement of need, your methodology and/or an achievable solution to the need, a brief discussion of other funding sources and a final summary.
Although foundations usually provide an outline for the LOI, we hope that the following tips will help you successfully win grants.
11 Letter of intent (LOI) Tips
- The LOI should be a brief, one page, informative letter which summarizes your ultimate full proposal. There are times, however, when it can be as long as three pages.
- The structure of the LOI is a business letter. Therefore, write the LOI on business letterhead. Be sure that your company’s address appears on the letterhead or add it to the letter on the right-hand side. The recipient’s address should appear on the left-hand side of the paper.
- It is important to use the specific name of the recipient. It is best to avoid general terminology such as, “Dear Sir” or “To Whom It May Concern”.
- The opening of your LOI might be the most important part of your letter. It should be a concise, executive summary that provides enticing information to inspire the reader to continue. Include the name of your organization, the grant you are applying for, and/or the amount of money you are requesting as well as a short description of the project involved. You should also include how your project fits the funder’s guidelines and funding interests.
- Next, give a brief history of your nonprofit and its programs. There should be a direct connection made from what you currently do to what you want to accomplish with their funding. Include a description of your target population and geographic area. It is wise to incorporate statistical facts about what you are doing and hope to do as well as specific examples of successes and needs.
- Elaborate on your objectives. How do you plan on using the funding to solve the problem? Describe the project succinctly. Include major activities along with the names and titles of key project staff.
- If you are requesting funding from other sources, mention this in a brief paragraph. In addition, include any funding already secured as well as how you plan to support the project in the future.
- Briefly summarize your goal. Note that you are open to answering any further questions. Thank the funder for his consideration in your organization.
- You may attach any additional forms which are helpful to present your information. However, keep in mind that this is an LOI and not a full proposal.
- Review the given guidelines for the LOI to assure that you have met all of the funder’s requirements. Failing to include all requested information can cause your LOI to be disregarded.
- When signing the LOI, use proper business salutations such as “sincerely” or “respectfully”. It is best to avoid an overly friendly closing.