To get funding for a nonprofit program, the process typically starts with a great LOI (Letter of Intent). As a community foundation that has reviewed many of these, we understand what that takes. Here are simple strategies to help get your LOI noticed.
Do research before writing an LOI.
The most important step is to do research; thoroughly review the foundations you submit LOIs to. Make sure that the program you need funding for is a good fit for that potential funder. Rather than creating a program to match the funder, find a grant opportunity that can support a current program at your organization. The best matches are when the mission and values of the funder and the nonprofit align.
Follow the LOI directions.
This may sound simple, but it’s surprising how often people forget to follow the guidelines. For example, pay attention to:
- Character and word count limits
- Formatting guidelines
- Other special instructions
Some foundations will disqualify an application for not following instructions.
Keep your narrative concise.
Answer each LOI question thoroughly, but concisely. While we understand you’re passionate about your program, this often can lead to repetitiveness.
Remember this: The readers of each LOI may have many others to review; provide answers that are short and to the point. Being repetitive will take away from your message, not add to it.
Have another person review it.
We recommend having a colleague proofread your LOI. When you have spent a lot of time on a piece, it is easy to miss small errors. Others can also offer a different perspective that you might not have considered before.
Focus on how the nonprofit funding will make an impact.
When possible, make sure to include how the funding will make an impact on your program, the organization, and even the community. Funders want their money to go to good use, help them see how this grant will support the big picture and move your mission forward.
Give the foundation a call.
If possible, build relationships with potential funders. Not all foundations may have the time or resources to speak with you, but it is always good to try. Building a relationship leads to a better understanding of your program and the funder’s focus.
After going through these tips, you’re ready to submit. If you are nervous, that is understandable., We know that LOIs can be short, and there can be a lot you feel is being left unsaid. Remember though, this is only the first step. If you make the next round, there will be a chance to follow up with further details.