L-O-what?! Let’s take a closer look at LOIs, also known as Letters of Interest!
My name is Talia Alkalay, and I worked as a grant writing and development intern this past summer for Mockingbird Analytics. As I began researching grant-making organizations for potential clients, I noticed that many require a Letter of Interest as a first step in requesting a grant. Because I spent so much time dealing with the subject, I picked up a lot of useful information on writing an effective LOI. If you want to get funded, covering the correct subjects in your LOI is crucial. Here are a few tips on writing successful Letters of Interest:
First, check to see if the organization to which you are applying has left any guidelines for the LOI. Many will state the desired length of the letter, which can range from 2-3 sentences to several pages. Also, look into whether they want any specific information about your organization and your intention for the funds in your LOI. If they haven’t delineated anything, your process gets a bit trickier. We’ll get to my suggested outline in a minute for cases like these.
A Letter of Interest is much like a cover letter, but for your grant. It’s a great way for the organization to see if your non-profit is one that they would even consider funding. It acts as a primary filter; you won’t have to go through the lengthy grant application process if you don’t stand a good chance of receiving funding. Thus, it’s important to highlight details that make your organization stand out and adhere to the description of the type of projects that they fund.
- First, make sure you have correctly formatted the letter. Instructions are often available on the foundation’s website. You should have you have your company’s letterhead on the document with your address on the right side and their address on the left side. Ensuring these details are correct is more important than it seems. Address it to a specific person, rather than the generic “To Whom it May Concern.” In this digital age, it’s not hard to find out who works at a foundation. If they don’t specify the length, a typical LOI is 1-3 pages.
- The beginning of the letter gives the reader a first impression of you and your organization. Essentially, it should be a short summary, including who you are, for what you are applying, and how you will use the money. Your use of the funds should align with their organization’s goals.
- The body of your Letter of Interest should be clear and professional. Start it off with a history of you and your company, and clarify how your company’s background has led to your current mission statement and overall goals. Be sure to incorporate the necessary numbers and statistics concerning your target demographic and the need for your services.
- The next paragraph should go into detail about what you specifically plan to do with the money they grant you, if they choose to do so. This should be comprehensive. The organization wants to know that their money will be put to good use and that they are making the right decision.
- The last paragraph should conclude the whole letter and summarize your overall agenda. As with a cover letter, thank the organization for the opportunity and leave contact information. Finish the letter with a polite salutation and a signature.
Once you’ve nailed this, you’re on the right track to receiving the grant of your choice!