Sample Letter of Inquiry
Here is a letter of inquiry Maggie used when seeking a grant for one of her local nonprofit agencies. Note that Maggie links the project outcomes to the stated objectives of the granting agency found in their guidelines. Take care to do the same in your letters of inquiry.
Dear Program Officer:
Last fall, the XYZ nonprofit launched a mobile media laboratory, a van equipped with laptop computers, digital video cameras, digital-video editing software, educational software, and e-learning curricula.
The project was deployed in response to needs for technology education and educational enrichment in several areas of the community. In its scheduled visits to inner-city and other public and parochial schools, and community and youth centers, the project provides kindergarten to twelfth-grade enrichment in the subject areas, and Internet and video-production training for children and young adults who would otherwise lack access to equipment or connections.
While the educational outcomes for project participants are not yet available, they do appear promising. The project has been enthusiastically received by teachers, students, community members, and organizational representatives. Students have a natural interest in the cameras and computers and quickly learn to operate the equipment and to edit film. Project staff uses that interest to encourage further exploration and study in content-area subjects, as requested by the teaching and administrative staffs of the individual schools.
XYZ now proposes that it use the project not only to enrich academic studies but also to engage children and young adults in the creative process. Through a new program called [project name], staff plan to assist up to thirty at-risk middle and high school students in exploring their range of talent and in developing the artistic skills needed to support their natural abilities.
Students will participate in the new project five days a week for eight weeks. They will receive several one-act plays written by a local writer, a freelance playwright, and director, who will develop four to six “starter” plays on various topics of interest to young people. He will guide the students in writing the middles and ends to the plays they select. When they are finished, the group will read all the works and select a person to act as the playwright for the remainder of the project. All students will also study stage production, acting, directing, camera operation, and film editing with the playwright and a staff videographer, and through interactive teaching modules on the Internet accessed with project laptops.
Students may then select or try out for assignments related to producing the play and videotaping it as an artistic film. Some will become actors, others set designers, camera operators, costume designers, film editors, etc. Completed plays will be performed live and filmed and edited as short features for broadcast on public-access television or streaming to the Internet. Some components of the plays may be made into performing exhibits for display at the local partner agency. The completed curriculum and resulting work will be shared with other school districts that require new or enhanced arts programs.
Project outcomes include:
Students will engage in the creative process, learn to work as a group, and come to appreciate their own and others' various talents and skills.
Students will demonstrate a deeper and long-lasting appreciation for the arts.
Schools struggling with budgets will have improved, rather than reduced, arts curricula and programming.
XYZ requires $_____ to launch the project, which will include the following:
$_____ Curriculum development (two months); development of interactive curriculum components and deployment to Web
$_____ Vignettes and 8 weeks' program (five days per week), playwright
$_____ 8 weeks' program, video production and broadcast
$_____ Miscellaneous (costumes, set design, vehicle expenses, etc.)
XYZ is just beginning to explore funding sources for this project. We hope to hear from you soon, not only to learn that you are inviting a full proposal for review by your board, but also to hear your ideas for additional partnerships or program refinements. Thank you for your assistance.
Some foundations provide LOI forms and guidelines for writing a short narrative. As with grant proposals, follow the instructions and include all the information requested in forms like the sample that follows:
Letter of Inquiry
Legal Name of Organization
Address of Organization
Executive Director/President or CEO Title
Contact person (if different from CEO/Executive Director)
Does the organization have 501(c)(3) non profit status? Yes No _____ (Please enclose a copy of the designation letter)
Please attach a draft project budget.
Please submit eight copies of your Letter of Inquiry.
Please use the following format to describe the issue you hope to address, limiting the description to two additional pages or less:
Describe the issue that you hope to address with assistance from the Foundation. In what way is your identification of this issue and the proposed resolution based on credible data? (Please include a summary of the data)
Please describe how this project addresses the Foundation's principles. If it does not address the principles, it is unlikely to be considered.
How do you propose to address the issue?
What will be accomplished through this project? How do you plan to evaluate your success?
What is the proposed time frame for the project?
Which of the following roles do you foresee the Foundation playing in addressing the identified issue?
Funding (if requesting funds, how much is requested? $_____
Leading an initiative
Please do not submit attachments other than those requested.
Proposed budget for the project Organization's current operating budget
Signature of CEO/Executive Director or Board Chairperson Date
Please forward this form, your narrative, and attachments to:
City, State, Zip