Letters of Inquiry
last updated September 1, 2003

Writing a letter of inquiry can sometimes be more difficult than writing the proposal itself. A letter of inquiry must convey the basics of the full proposal in a few concise paragraphs. In general, a letter of inquiry should be similar to an executive summary in a grant proposal.


A letter of inquiry should include an introduction, a description of the organization, a statement of need, a description of the project's methodology, a list of other funding sources, and a final summary. Chad T. Green and Yvette Castro-Green recommend including a statement about funder selection, as well—a sentence describing briefly how the project fits into the funder's mission and philosophy. From Writing Winning Grant Proposals Step by Step: Wirth Practice Exercises and Sample Models for NGOs in the Baltics Seeking U.S. and Western European Grants 16-17.

The Foundation Center recommends limiting the letter to no more than three pages, while the Paladin Group suggests one or two at the most. The Paladin Group also recommends that the letter include a description of the next step to be taken (i.e., invite for visit, will call).

The Foundation Center offers an excellent description of the purpose and suggested content of a letter of inquiry as well as links to sample letters and other grant proposal documents. GrantProposal provides a useful discussion about writing letters of inquiry, including advice about timing and recipients.