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As noted earlier, many private foundations – and some government agencies – may solicit a proposal in the form of a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) either instead of or before a full proposal.


Excluding any required attachments, an LOI often will have six parts. Among these are the Program Description, the Budget Statement, and the Closing Statement.


“Vigorous writing is concise,” as Strunk and White advised in their classic manual, The Elements of Style. In writing a Letter of Inquiry, brevity and clarity are virtues.


Program Description:

In a Program Description, a smart applicant will:

  • State the who, number, and location of the persons it plans to serve
  • State the goals, objectives, key activities for which it seeks support
  • Define the scope, scale, start, end, and duration of its undertaking
  • Specify its partnering organizations and their roles

Suggested Optimum Length: 2-4 paragraphs


Budget Request:

In a Budget Request, a smart applicant will:

  • Provide adequate but not exhaustive information
  • Use budget categories that fit the grant-maker
  • Discuss any leveraging or matching of funds

Suggested Optimum Length: 1-2 paragraphs


Closing Statement:

In a Closing Statement, a smart applicant will:

  • Restate the purpose, likely impacts, and fit with the funder’s interests
  • Indicate a follow-up method and timeframe

Suggested Optimum Length: 1 paragraph



In providing attachments, a smart applicant will:

  • Attach an annual financial report, if required
  • Attach proof of non-profit status, if required
  • Attach a list of directors and their positions and affiliations, if required
  • Limit attachments to what the grant-maker requires

Suggested Optimum Length: Whatever the grant maker requires.


An earlier post covered the first three parts of a typical LOI: the Introduction, the Rationale, and the Capacity Statement.


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