Chapter 21 Writing a Winning LOI and Proposal

“If you’ve seen one foundation . . . you’ve seen one foundation.”



In Chapter 19, we discussed how important foundation funding is to a successful fundraising strategy. It accounts for 16 percent of the over $300 billion given to U.S. nonprofits in 2013, according to Giving USA. Foundations can be more accessible than major donors, since you don’t need to have a personal relationship with a high net worth individual; you just need to get in the door and prove that you are doing relevant work that meets their goals, using the tips we provided in that chapter. However, the vast majority of foundation grant requests are denied. In addition to putting those tips to work to get you to that 50 percent success rate, it’s still critical that you write letters of inquiry and proposals that break through the clutter and clearly articulate your work and impact, inspiring the reader to fund you. You need to get their attention, explain clearly what you’re seeking funding for and how it maps to their goals, and get them engaged as partners in your work so they’re excited about the impact they can help make possible.

When you write a letter of inquiry, also known as a letter of interest (LOI), the better the impression you make, the more likely you’ll be funded. An LOI is traditionally the first step in being invited to submit a full proposal—although this is changing and the LOI seems to be falling out of favor with some ...

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