Letter of Inquiry
A letter of Inquiry (LOI) is a 2-4-page document that summarizes your organization’s mission, history, program description, need, goals, target population, funding request and budget.
The LOI is a quick way for you to introduce yourself and your charitable program to a potential funder. It’s also a resourceful way to open up conversation about the wonderful contributions that your program is making in your community and how much money is needed to continue or expand your services to more people. If the funder determines that you are mission-aligned and likes what he/she reads in your LOI, usually, they’ll extend an invitation to you to submit more details about what you’d like them to fund. They may even fund you without additional information. Worst case, the funder decides to deny your request. Even if your request is denied, if you’ve used a template, then you have spent very little of your time preparing the letter. Simply thank the funder and move on to your next opportunity.
Generally, the LOI will include:
- An Introduction
- Organization mission and background
- Project Description
- Need Statement
- Target Population
- Program Impact
- Use of Funds
Writing a Letter of Inquiry
Although the Letter of Inquiry is limited in pages, it is not easily done. Unlike a full proposal that affords you the page-count to elaborate on your program justification, methodology, evaluation, etc., you must find a way to communicate all of this in summary form – omitting any and all “fluff”. If you spend one of your two page on anything other than concise details, your LOI will not be taken seriously.Use the LOI as a time to highlight how you are a mission-aligned match for the grant-making organization that you are seeking funding from. This may be your only opportunity!
Sample Letter of Inquiry
January 1, 2020
Re: Letter of Inquiry
Dear Ms. Davis,
This letter is from Amy Smith, Founder and Executive Director for Visions of Hope, Inc. We are a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization based in Fulton County, GA. We provide transportation services for low-income visually impaired adults in Fulton County. In harmony with the ABC Foundation’s giving priorities that include support for people with disabilities, our mission is to provide safe and reliable transportation for vulnerable populations in need. My purpose for contacting you is to share information about our transportation services and to request your assistance in the amount of $10,000 to help our organization to purchase a second van to transport our clients to and from critical appointments.
Visions of Hope, Inc. was founded in January 2012 out of my concern for low-income visually impaired individuals in my community who lacked transportation to the critical services they needed form medical and job-related reasons. Because I strongly believe in the power that collaboration has on intervention, I formed a board of eight concerned and dedicated individuals, and together, we established the organization that would help the helpless and offer hope to the hopeless in our community. Since inception, we have transported over 7,200 low-income visually impaired individuals to important medical and job-related appointments; 3,200 of which obtained employment as a result of our services.
PROGRAM NAME: Visions Transportation Program (VTP)
VTP is a safe and reliable service that provides travel solutions to and from health care facilities as well as employment training and job interviews for adults who are visually impaired. We currently utilize a 8 seat, 4 row passenger van driven by program volunteers to deliver services. Rides are coordinated by local service providers and community-based organizations Monday-Friday from 8:00am to 6:00pm. Rides are offered at no cost to eligible riders. Eligible riders must have a diagnosed visual impairment, must be low-income or homeless, and have a community-based referral for medical treatment, job-training and/or verified job interview. We currently partner with The Eye Consultants of Atlanta, The Atlanta Mission, Grady Hospital, Tapestri, Inc., DFCS and the Department of Human Services for transportation requests.
Lack of transportation presents a barrier for low-income or homeless individuals who are visually impaired and who must present themselves in person for medical treatment, job-training or job interviews. Without access to these critical services, these individuals may be unable to improve their health or economic state (US Dept. of Labor). At VTP, we want to ensure that these individuals are able to get to their appointments so that they can improve their current state and reach their highest and best potential.
We target low-income or homeless individuals who are visually impaired in Fulton County, GA.
GOALS: We aim to transport 4,800 visually impaired adults residing in Fulton County, GA to and from critical appointments during our program year. (January 1 – December 31).
INDICATOR OF SUCCESS:
- 2ndVan Funding secured
- 2ndVan Purchased
- Number of visually impaired individuals referred
- Number of visually impaired individuals transported
PURPOSE AND USE OF FUNDS: We are requesting $10,000. We intend to use 100% of this funding as a down-payment on a second van to transport clients to and from critical appointments.
Program Budget: $81,750
- Salaries: $38,000
- Payroll: $3,800
- Marketing: $1,500
- Supplies $2,500
- Postage $250
- License Fees: $150
- General Liability Insurance: $2,400
- Auto Insurance: $3,800
- Fuel Costs: $8,500
- Existing Van Expenses: $6,500
- New Van down-payment: $5,000
- New Van Note:$4,050
- New Van Insurance:$1,200
- New Van maintenance/repair costs:$500
- New Van Fuel: $3,600
- Current Grant (Pending) Request: $37,500
- Income Received or Committed: $45,000
Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. We look forward to the opportunity to share more about our board, programs, partners, and successes with you.
Amy Smith, Founder and Executive DirectorVisions of Hope, Inc
Mailing Your Letter of Inquiry
Before mailing or completing an LOI online, read the funderʼs guidelines for submission, and follow the guidelines with precision. Also, it’s helpful to do a little research on the funder before sending your request. To view information on private foundations, visit the IRS.gov and conduct a Tax Exempt Organization Search or Guidestar by Candid (www.guidestar.org). From either of these websites, search for the private foundation of your choice so that you can read their most recent IRS 990PF. The 990PF is the information returned used by 501(c)(3) private foundations to report on their annual activities. Reading the 990PF will help you to gain a clear understanding of the kind of programs the foundation has funded in the past; which states they prioritize for funding; the amount of funding typically awarded; and in some cases, you’ll need to access the IRS 990PF for the address to send your LOI.
LOI Application Procedures
Per the funderʼs guidelines, your LOI written request should be sent by US mail, email, or completed online (on their website). Be sure that your LOI includes a brief, but detailed description of the organization and legal structure; the project to be funded; why the project is needed; state the project benefactors; explain the purpose for which funds are being requested, and the amount of the request.
If a funder doesn’t give you guidelines for submission attachments, always include the following:
- Your Letter should contain your letterhead and be printed on good stock white paper.
- Be sure that the Letter of Inquiry is signed by you in blue ink.
- Include a copy of your IRS Tax Determination Letter.
- Your Program Budget.
- Your Board List.
- A List of Contributors (Donor information).