| | |LETTER PROPOSALS | |A letter proposal is a short grant proposal, usually two to four pages long. Written in letter | |form, it is primarily targeted to private sponsors, such as foundations and corporations, though | |it can be viewed as a preproposal for federal sponsors. Most federal program officers like to | |receive a letter proposal because it presents them with a "concept paper," or a "conceptual | |shell" of what you propose. With many private sponsors, the letter proposal is all that is | |required; they make funding decisions on the basis of your brief letter, whether you are asking | |for $100 or $1 million. However, some private sponsors use the letter proposal as a screening | |device and request an expanded proposal if your idea captures their interest. In either case, you| |face the challenge of clear, concise writing. | |In certain respects, a short proposal is more challenging to write than a long proposal. In seven| |brief sections, you must anticipate and answer the major questions that the sponsor will be | |asking as your letter proposal is read. Each sentence must carry a heavy load of information. To | |aid in the writing process, the components of a letter proposal are identified and discussed | |below. | |Part One: Summary | |Your objective is to summarize the entire proposal in one sentence. The critical elements of the | |sentence include: (1) self-identification (your organizational name); (2) uniqueness (your claim | |to fame); (3) sponsor expectation (what you want them to do); (4) budget request (how much money | |you want); and (5) project benefit (major project outcomes). | |Part Two: Sponsor Appeal | |Your objective is to explain why you are approaching this sponsor. Conduct background research on| |the sponsor to determine prior funding patterns, usually available in annual reports and tax | |records. Identify values that the sponsor seems to cherish as evidenced by their funding | |patterns, e.g., high-risk projects not normally funded by the government, cutting-edge research, | |demonstration projects with a national impact, or low cost/high benefit projects. | |Part Three: Problem | |Your objective is to briefly summarize the current problem. Focus the problem or need statement | |from the sponsor's perspective, not yours. Funding your project is not their end goal. You must | |show how funding your project can be a means for them to reach their end goal--their mission. | |Remember that a need is really a gap between what is and what ought to be. Document that gap with| |statistics, quotations, reasoning, or surveys and express it in human terms. Limit your | |documentation to brief but clear statements. Beware of the excessive use of statistics, which | |only confuses the reader. | |Part Four: Solution | |Your objective is to describe your approach to the problem. Summarize the objectives that you | |will meet with your approach. Convey confidence that you can close the gap between what is and | |what ought to be. You can detail your precise methodology in a one-page attachment by use of a | |time-and-task chart. Do not include extensive methodological detail in the letter...
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