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So happy to see you go on in your training. The further you go, the more you learn. And the more you learn, the better you are at getting what you want, and that is acceptance of your grant request.

The letter of inquiry is like the letter of intent: you only send it when you are required by the grant-maker to do so. Its primary purpose is to give the funder the opportunity to “pre-screen” potential applicants by quickly assessing whether or not the potential applicant’s mission, program, degree of financial need, etc. match the funder’s goals, resources and other considerations. Letters of inquiry help to reduce the possibility that the grant-maker will waste time and effort reviewing proposals that prove to be unfundable because they are outside the scope of the grant-maker’s objectives, exceed their funding capacity per grantee, or are otherwise not a good “fit.” Letters of inquiry also help you, the grant-writer: Think about it. It would be a waste of your time as well to spend hours creating a proposal for a funder, only to learn they can’t accept it and, therefore, will not review it.

In many cases, if the letter of inquiry is accepted, the sender will be asked to submit a formal proposal that provides the additional detail the grant-maker will need to render a funding decision. Some funders, however, request only a letter of inquiry, rather than a full-blown proposal. You should consult the grant-maker’s guidelines for instructions in this regard.

Typically, the letter of inquiry provides more information than does the letter of intent and usually includes brief summaries of the following:

  • Your program
  • Your organization
  • The goals of your program, including the measurable outcomes
  • Past and current fund-raising efforts you have undertaken and their outcomes
  • Project costs
  • Any additional information the funder requires to be included in the letter of inquiry, as outlined in the funder’s guidelines

Before you submit a letter of inquiry, review the funder’s guidelines carefully to make sure you understand the submission requirements, funding cycle, applicant eligibility and any details that may pertain to the specifics of the project(s) for which the grant-maker is requesting proposals. Once you have this information, follow the grant-maker’s submission instructions precisely, including to make certain that you submit the correct forms and requested details, as well as use any format specified by the funder.

Just as with the letter of intent, make sure you meet any deadlines for sending the letter of inquiry. Try also to learn how long it typically takes the funder to respond and whether or not letters of inquiry senders can contact the grant-maker to follow up on their submission. Last, but not least, if you send a letter of inquiry, do not send the proposal with it, as this can be viewed as a potential indicator that the prospective grantee is unable to follow directions. Instead, wait until you receive a response from the grant-maker as to any next steps in the decision-making process.

The letter of inquiry should be formatted in the same way as the letter of intent (discussed in Lesson 9), except that it will contain more information, as summarized above. Ideally, it should be written on letterhead and begin with the date, followed by the recipient’s (grant-maker) name and address, salutation, body of the letter, closing and signature of the sender.

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For this assignment you will do the following exercise:

  1. Identify one or two funders you want to approach. Determine if they require a letter of inquiry.
  2. After finding prospective funders, write your letter of inquiry for each one. Save this letter till you get to the end of the course so you can compare it with the samples to see how accurate yours is.


Read over the following questions and provide the best answer possible.

  1. If a grant-maker states they do not accept letters of inquiry, you should still send one.
    1. True
    2. False
  2. The letter of inquiry contains the same amount of information as the letter of intent.
    1. True
    2. False
  3. The information that should be presented in the letter of inquiry includes a summary of your program, organization, program goals, and what else?
    1. Other fund-raising efforts you undertook and their success
    2. The funder’s name
    3. Your name
    4. All of the above
  4. You should include the project cost in the letter of inquiry.
    1. True
    2. False
  5. The letter of inquiry gives the funder the opportunity to review your program, your organization and what else?
    1. To see if your program matches the funder’s goals
    2. To see if the funder has the money to pay for such a program
    3. To see if all information is accurate
    4. Both a and b


Lesson 11 >

Want to Go to College?
$3 Billion in Pell Grants are Unclaimed Every Year by Eligible Students

Grant Funding and Assistance
Billions of dollars are now easily available to many Americans