The letter of inquiry should be straightforward and simply explain why funding is being sought and provide details on organizational capacity and history. The Washington D.C.-based Foundation Center has an excellent guide to preparing letters of inquiry at: http://foundationcenter.org/getstarted/faqs/html/loi.html.
The most effective LOI will be a simple narrative — preferably no more than three pages. Keep in mind that, over time, our median grant award has been $50,000. More than half of Parsons grants annually are $50,000 or less. Parsons funding also includes some larger grants and occasional major grants of $500,000 or more. Parsons is unlikely to be the largest funder of most organizations or individual proposals. If you have current support from other Foundations, please share that information. The LOI must be accompanied by the organization’s most recent audit or financial statement.
If review of the LOI results in a decision to explore specifics of the grant request in more detail, you will be asked to submit a full proposal. Guidance on how to prepare a complete request will be provided in writing. As part of the subsequent review, you will probably be contacted by a program officer. An objective of this process is to work collaboratively with you to balance your organizational needs with our mission and capacity to help.
We realize that today’s funding world often leads nonprofits to apply for a level of support higher than we may be able to provide. We ask for candor in your Letter of Intent and that you identify a realistic funding request. Reviewing previous or similar RMPF funded projects will provide guidance, and you can do that by searching our grants database. If your LOI results in an invitation to submit a proposal, the specific amount of support we may be able to provide will be made known to you very early in the process. Particularly in challenging economic times like today’s we must be sure that every grant dollar is spent wisely.
We also ask that grantees limit their proposals to Parsons so they have only one active request at a time. This means that if an organization has a current grant with the Foundation, they are not eligible to reapply until a final report is completed. In addition, we cannot consider more than one new request from any organization. This is especially important for larger nonprofits with more complicated structures in which multiple grant applications may emerge simultaneously for projects managed across the grantee’s organization.
The LOI should be sent by U.S. Post Office mail to:
President and CEO
The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation
888 West Sixth Street, Suite 700
Los Angeles, CA 90017