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Letter of Intent or Concept Paper?

What is a Letter of Inquiry/Intent and a Concept Paper?

A Letter of Inquiry/Intent (LOI) and a Concept Paper (CP) are basically the same thing. It is a brief business letter (1-3 pages)
written on your organization’s letterhead that introduces your proposed project to a potential donor with the goal of being
invited to submit a full proposal.

Specifically, a LOI/CP is a condensed version of your proposal. When reviewing a potential donor’s funding criteria if you see
"proposals not accepted," it usually means you must first submit a LOI/CP. This allows the potential donor to quickly
determine if your program matches their funding interests. If it does, they will request a full proposal.

When creating your LOI/CP, the potential donor will usually provide an outline for the document. It typically includes an
introduction to your project, contact information, a description of your organization, a statement of need, your methodology,
a brief discussion of other funding sources, if any, and a final summary.

Remember, the potential donor may review hundreds of requests for funding per week; therefore, your LOI/CP needs to
“stand out” among the others.

What are the components of a LOI/CP?

1. Summary Statement (or Executive Summary) (1 paragraph)
This statement tells the whole story and may be the only section the potential donor reads. It should be able to stand alone. It
tells the reader the name of your organization, the grant you are applying for, and/or the amount of money you are
requesting, a short description of your program, and the timing of your program.


2. Need Statement: (1–2 paragraphs)

As with your proposal, you will need to create a Need Statement, basically, it tells the reader why you are doing the program.
This is a shortened version of the statement of need from your full prop
osal and should be no more than two paragraphs. The
statement should include data to support the need and includes the following:

  • The issue you are addressing. (Make sure it’s relevant to your organization’s mission.)

  • Why your organization has chosen to address the issue and how you will address it.

  • State briefly why this issue is important.

  • Who benefits from your program. (Your target population and geographic area to be served)

3. Objectives and Methodology (The bulk of your letter)

Although this section may take up most of your document, it needs to be concise. In this section you will describe your program
including its objectives and the major activities to accomplish those objectives. In writing this section include the following:

  • Provide an overview of the program.

  • State the objectives you plan to achieve and the activities to achieve those objectives. Make sure the objectives are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant to the program, and time-based.

  • Highlight why your program is unique.

  • If your program is a collaboration with other organizations, briefly discuss who the partners are and their roles in the program.

  • Briefly indicate how the evaluation is a part of the program to determine achievement of your objectives.

4. Credentials (1–2 paragraphs)

This is where you inform the potential donor that your organization has the skills and experience to accomplish “the job.” In this section, consider answering the following questions:

  • Why is your organization and/or staff best equipped to carry out this program?

  • What is the history of your organization regarding working in this specific area?

  • Can you provide any data that shows your organization is better than your peers? For example, your reach of the population to be served?

5. Budget (1–2 paragraphs)

At times, potential funding partners will ask that you include a budget in the LOI/CP. This is a shortened version of the program’s full budget from your proposal. The LOI/CP budget is basically a general description of the program’s funding needs and the total amount of the request.

6. Closing (1 paragraph)

The closing paragraph basically communicates appreciation for the review of your request. It also includes an offer to provide any additional information they may need. You may wish to end this paragraph by stating you will follow up with them on a certain date and time to answer any questions they may have. However, many potential donors will state in their funding criteria whether they accept calls. So, please review their criteria.

7. Signature

When signing the document, use business salutations such as “sincerely” or “respectfully.” Avoid an overly friendly closing.

Note: Whether you are submitting a LOI/CP or a proposal, the potential funding partner may request you include other supporting documents such as your 501(c)3 letter, latest annual report, board of directors’ roster, the organization’s annual budget, and a few examples of marketing materials pertaining to the program you are seeking funding for. So, be prepared. If you are submitting your documents through the funder’s website, it’s a good idea to have these items handy just in case you need to up load them to their portal

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