Ten Things to Know about Letters of Inquiry
1. Do some basic homework.
Find out the organization's application guidelines and parameters and priorities. Please contact the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations at (706) 542-0274 before approaching the corporation or foundation. We can inform you of any other activity on campus with that organization and provide strategic advice.
2. Outline what you are asking for.
Find out what items the organization funds or, more importantly, what items they do not fund. Some corporations or foundations will not cover "indirect costs" or "F&A costs" (facilities and administration). Explore other means to cover these costs, and be sure to disclose that to the corporation or foundation in your letter.
3. Format the letter correctly and address it to the appropriate person at the corporation or foundation.
Generally, you can find the name of the program officer or executive director on their Web site, or in their profiles on search engines.
4. Letters of inquiry are generally 2-3 pages.
Sometimes more, sometimes less. In essence, letters are short proposals. They address the same things proposals address, only more concisely.
5. The general components of a letter of inquiry are:
An introduction, a brief description of your organization, statement of need, brief description of budget, methodology, evaluation methods, summary and appropriate closing.
6. Your letter of inquiry must be compelling and well written.
Explain your project or program and its significance, and intrigue the organization's board. Make a good case and a good impression.
7. Stay away from using jargon.
Also avoid other complicated terms and explanations.
8. Before sending your letter of inquiry, have someone unfamiliar with your project read it.
It is always beneficial to have an external editor give you objective feedback and suggestions.
9. Follow up with the corporation or foundation.
Make sure that they have received your letter.
10. Be patient and positive.
You could be on your way to funding and a new professional partnership!