Need, Vision and Costs

Statement of Need

Statistics: Foundations really like to see relevant statistics that reflect and substantiate the need for your services. You might provide demographic information about the mix of people in your community, or facts about the level of homelessness and how that compares to the rest of the country, and so on. It is useful to provide information gathered from outside sources as well as from your own organization’s records. Foundations like to see that you research facts to measure how you are doing.

Vision for the Grant Program

The funder may provide an outline they want used in the Inquiry Letter. If so, definitely use it! If not, the following sequence can be used to present your case:

  • Summary
  • Vision & Mission
  • Background history
  • Track Record (accomplishments)
  • The Need
  • Proposed Project (or use the specific name of your project)
  • Fundraising plan
  • Timeline
  • Leadership

Benefits: Explain briefly how the grant funds will be used.  Rather than presenting the details about logistical or physical aspects of the project, convey how human beings will be helped and lives transformed. Be precise so the funder can see that the project has been well thought out and turned into a plan. Pay attention to the adjectives you use.  A good list includes:

  • affordable
  • private
  • effective
  • comprehensive
  • permanent
  • dignified

Potential Sources of Funding and Cost of Project

Fiscal Responsibility: It is not necessary (or advisable) to provide detailed financial data and budgets in the inquiry letter.  But you should provide enough information to demonstrate fiscal responsibility.  Share what funding you have already procured and that which is pending. Foundations like to see that you have developed other sources of funding of different types including government, individuals, and other private grants.

Timing: Do the necessary research about the foundation to see what sort of patterns you can find in their grantmaking.  Some only want to  commit at the end of a campaign. Others  like to offer matching gifts or challenge grants, funds for equipment or for general operating expenses.

Inquiry Letters