Murray Covens, Principal
Don't Send Letters of Inquiry
Nonprofit organizations sometimes send out letters of inquiry (LOI) to foundations and corporations to try to obtain invitations for a full proposal. The thinking sometimes is to send out dozens or hundreds of LOIs and wait to see who invites a full proposal. In most cases, doing this will decrease your chances of receiving grants.
The only time it’s appropriate to submit an LOI is if the funder specifically requires that your first contact with them be in the form of an LOI.
Some funders that require an LOI have an online LOI application process, and after you submit it, if the funder invites a full proposal, they will send a link to the online full proposal application.
Other funders just require that you submit a brief letter for the LOI. Sometimes they require some attachments with the LOI. If they invite a full proposal, they’ll send you the guidelines for doing so.
You should never submit an LOI to a funder unless you specifically know that they require it as a first step. Only a very small percentage of funders require an LOI. For the rest, your first contact with them should be a full proposal.
If there are no guidelines for a funder, you should submit only a grant proposal, with no attachments other that your IRS letter.
If you submit an LOI to a funder that doesn’t require it, some funders that receive it will review it as though it’s your complete application. And since the LOI will likely have less information than a full proposal, it’s much more likely to be denied.
If you submit an LOI to a funder that has published guidelines about how to submit a grant proposal to them, and all you send is an LOI, it will likely be immediately denied for failure to follow their guidelines.
Recent grants received by our clients include:
$56,500 for an organization dedicated to the well-being and education of low-income children - $26,500 for their summer reading program, $25,000 for a new facility, and $5,000 general operating support
$40,000 for an agency that serves as a clearinghouse of donated resources for the homeless – for products for homeless children
$30,000 for a school that develops urban youth through transformative education, equipping future leaders – for general operating support
$20,000 for an organization that has programs for homeless and low-income persons – $10,500 for food distribution, and $10,000 for job skills training
$20,000 for an agency that help people experiencing homelessness regain their dignity and independence – for their transitional shelter program
$13,500 for a domestic violence agency – $8,500 for children’s programs, and $5,000 for their emergency care program
$10,000 for an agency that empowers formerly incarcerated mothers and their children to achieve a productive and fulfilling life – for general operating support
$10,000 for an organization that offers adaptive recreational sports programs for physically disabled persons – for children’s programs
$7,500 for an organization that serves children and families affected by homelessness – for their emergency shelter program