How to Write a Letter of Intent

 Photo by  Joanna Kosinska

Private foundations provide untapped funding opportunities for non-profit organizations. In Canada, these foundations are typically controlled by a single donor or family through a board that is made up of more than 50% directors.

Similar to grant applications for public foundations, private foundations require you to submit proposal details such as:

  • Project Details

  • Expected Project Timeline

  • Impact of Project

  • Project Budget

However, before mailing out your proposal, these foundations often request for you to send a Letter of Intent, which serves as your first point of contact with the potential new funder.


What Makes a Good Letter of Intent?

A Letter of Intent is a formal introduction of your organization and project to the foundation. The letter usually contains the following sections:


1. Summary Statement

The paragraph should summarize your main points in a few sentences:

  • Who you are

  • What activity you're requesting funds for

  • What your need is

  • How much is being requested


2. Statement of Need

With the help of statistics, highlight the issues you are addressing, and explain why this is the best way to go about it. It’s important to highlight and quantify who benefits from your organization’s work, and show how best practices are incorporated into the project. 


3. Project Details

Provide an overview highlighting essential project activities, as well as potential project impact. Explain the unique value behind your project, and why the funder should pay attention to it. If you are collaborating with other organizations, this is the perfect place to highlight their involvement.


4. Project Outcomes

Outline the measurable outcomes your project hopes to achieve and explain how the evaluation process helps to assess and track your impact.


5. Budget

Provide a short, general breakdown specifying how funds will be used for the project.


Learning how to communicate with foundations effectively helps you to tap into funding that is less program-specific. It can also aid you in your pursuit of Operating and Capital funding. A well-written Letter of Intent will allow you to start having meaningful conversations with funders.

Still got questions?

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