How to Write a Compelling LOI w/ Arnisha Johnson

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July 12, 2022

Last Updated:

August 5, 2022

Want to know how to compose a compelling LOI?

​In this 1 hour special workshop hosted by Instrumentl, you’ll be able to know what an LOI is and why it is important to the grant writing process, how to obtain the key elements necessary for an LOI, and how to understand the construction of an LOI.

By the end of this one-hour workshop with Arnisha Johnson, you’ll learn:

  • ​What an LOI is and why it's important to the grant writing process
  • ​How to obtain the key elements necessary for an LOI
  • ​How to understand the construction of an LOI

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​Arnisha T Johnson is the Owner and Lead Strategist of Manifesting on More. Her vision with this firm came after her entrepreneurial journey starting with MLM It Works, Inc. She yearned for a true work/life balance that would allow her the freedom to watch her children grow up, never missing a moment, and still running a successful business.

​She took all the skills and knowledge she accumulated for over 10 years and applied it to start her own company, M.O.M. Her strength in writing, her experience with grant writing, her passion for being a change-agent for small businesses and organizations, her business degree in human resources management and the thirst to see others WIN, Manifesting on More was born.

Instrumentl Partner Webinars are collaborations between Instrumentl and its community partners to provide free educational workshops for grant professionals. Our goal is to tackle a problem grant professionals often have to solve, while also sharing different ways Instrumentl’s platform can help grant writers win more grants. Click here to save a seat in our next workshop.

Click the video link below to start watching the replay of this free grant workshop, or check out the transcriptions below the video.

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How to Write a Compelling LOI - Grant Training Transcription

Celia: Session here. Okay. Great. Alright. Alright, so hello everybody. Thank you so much for joining us today. You are at the "How to write a compelling LOI," with Arnisha Johnson. This workshop is being recorded and the slides and the recording will also be shared with you all afterwards to your email.

So I'm Celia, and in case this is your first time here, we... and you know what, let me just double check really quickly and make sure that we've got everybody in here while I'm thinking about it. So that... let me just turn this so that everyone can just come in now. There we go. Alright. We should be good to go there then.

Yeah. Okay. Alright, so getting back to it, sorry about that. So I am Celia and I am with Instrumentl. So in case this is your first time here, this is a free grant workshop, and a free partner workshop with Instrumentl. So these are collaborations between Instrumentl and our community partners.

And the goal here is to provide educational workshops for grant professionals and nonprofits. So we'll be tackling a problem that grant professionals often have. And we'll talk a little bit about different ways to think about those and solve those. And then we'll also tell you a little bit about why Instrumentl is the fundraising platform and show you a couple different ways

grant writers can use it to bring grant prospecting, tracking, and management into one place. Alright. So when we get to that place, feel free to follow along using the link that I'm about to drop in the chat. I'll drop this again later. So if you, if you miss it don't worry about it. But we will sort of walk through that.

The other thing to know is if you have a question, there is time for questions at the end, but make sure when you're adding your questions in, if you're putting those three hashtags in the front, like I just put in the chat. That'll make it really easy for me to see, and we'll be sure that we don't miss anybody's questions.

So with all of that housekeeping out of the way I'm very excited today to introduce Arnisha Johnson. She is the owner and lead strategist of Manifesting on More. After her entrepreneurial journey started with MLM, It Works Inc, she realized the power of a true work life balance that would allow her the freedom to watch her children grow up,

while still running a successful business. So she brought her 10 years of experience in grant writing, her background in human resources and a passion for being a change agent for small businesses to found Manifesting on More. So Arnisha we're so excited to have you today, and I'm going to pass this right along to you.

Arnisha: Awesome. Good afternoon, everyone. If you're in a different time zone, it might still be a bit of morning for you. So good day, good day. I'm super excited to be here, and to be a community partner with Instrumentl I am excited to talk about writing a compelling letter of intent for those who are not familiar with what an LOI is.

Celia: Totally. 

Arnisha: So we're gonna dive deep. I did, I've been reading the comments and I love that some of you have already had experience with assisting in writing LOIs. And then for those who have not, do not feel, you know, left out this, this workshop today is a little bit for everyone.

So for my veterans on the chat and in participation, if you've written one, definitely we would love to hear from you guys just to add more value to what we're talking about today, as she mentioned, I am Arnisha T Johnson or Coach Arnisha T Johnson. There is a little picture of my little kiddos.

I am currently pregnant with our fourth, baby Jay. So, we're excited to be just growing our family. This is my husband, love of my life and I also, thank you! And I also just wanted to show a snapshot of myself as, just recently, when I was pregnant with my son, I birthed a book as well, so yeah. That's a little bit about me and I'm excited to get started with you guys.

So let's talk about what is on the agenda for today.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. So we're first gonna be talking about, you know, what is an LOI and then we're gonna go right into just the benefits of what a letter of intent is, what's required when you begin writing those things, and then how do you write it, like, how do you put together all those exciting answers that you are wanting to convey to the grantors and then obviously, you know, what's next.

"Okay. I've written it. Now what?" And then we'll save some space to learn more about Instrumentl and how they can be such a powerful tool for you guys. And then we'll have some Q&A at the end, but again, feel free in the comments. If you have a question that comes up in the midst, just jot it down and Celia will make sure that she notes it for us to come back to.

So let's dive right into, what is an LOI? Now I'm gonna need your help because I wanna see what you guys know first, before I give you my example. So we're gonna do a poll, alright, and I need your participation in the chat. Are you guys ready? So here is a little, little poll. What is an LOI? Is it a formal introduction to grantors, is it a short summary of your organizations or is it all of the above? And these things are going so fast. I'm just watching this poll and it's super fast, which is exciting. Look at those responses coming in. Yes. Yes. Yes, that's great. 

Celia: We've got 71% of participants putting. And this is gonna be good. I'm excited to share these results with everybody here.

Just a second. I think it's great. I think you're gonna all be excited to see it. Awesome. 

We'll give everyone just like another few seconds. If you wanna hop in here, you've got another like 10 seconds. 

Arnisha: I think we can go to like 90% participation. We need about 30 more people.

Celia: Yeah. Come on. You guys. A quick push of the button.

Arnisha: Alright. 

Celia: Alright, I think we're probably pretty good. Yeah. So let's go ahead and share those results. Is that what you wanna do Arnisha, here? 

Arnisha: Let's do it. Let's do it. 

Celia: Okay. So the results are in. 

Arnisha: There you all go.

So we have three of 129, say the first answer, formal introduction to grantors. We have two of you that said it's a short summary of your organization and the 124 of you said both, all of the above.

And regardless if you chose the first and second or obviously the third you're all correct. Yes, yes, and yes. A letter of intent definitely serves all three, or, all two, both purposes in introducing who you are to your grantors. It's a snapshot of your organization and the impact that you can make on the community.

Now most of the times when we write LOIs and when we see LOIs they're about one, you know, one page, but depending upon the depth of the grant application or the relationship that you're building with a grantor, it might exceed to about two to three pages. So as you're writing them for that quick snapshot, we wanna stick to one page and that's mostly,

you'll see a lot of the letter of intents are a one page summary. And again, it is a formal introduction. So we'll talk about, you know, how you're able to utilize this letter of intent once you've written it to establish that relationship. So let's talk about next, as far as the letter of intent, what are the benefits?

Right? Okay. So if we write one, like what will it actually do for us? The very first benefit is, again, like I said, it's a formal introduction to establish a relationship with a grantor. So whenever you are seeking grants or if you're a writer on this call and you're writing the grants, this is a perfect way to establish or to teach your clients how to establish a relationship with a grantor.

And a grantor is basically the person who has created this grant and put it out to the community. So when you compile your information and you construct this letter of intent, you will then actually send it to their contact person. And what it does is it introduces you, yourself, your organization, your impact, and all of these beautiful things about the work that you're doing, as well as your funding need,

to them. So it's basically saying, hi, I'm Arnisha T Johnson. This is my business. This is what we do. This is why we love doing what we do. This is the impact that we make on our community. This is the amount of money that we need in order to keep growing, to keep making a tremendous impact. And we just wanna say hello to you.

We want you to know us on a deeper level than just another application. And so that's the, one of the greatest benefits of having and writing a compelling letter of intent. So now let's talk about the second benefit. 

Okay. So once you've sent it, there's obviously a little part that you're gonna see when we look at an example.

And when you get your free template as well, that highlights a part where you're actually asking the grantor, "Are we a good fit?" Now that you've read my letter of intent, now that you know a little bit about who I am and what I do, the application that I'm seeking to apply for, isn't a good fit for me.

So this letter of intent is a great way to assess, to see if you're a great fit before you apply. And it's gonna directly link us to benefit number three, which is a big one for most of us, right, we definitely wanna save two things when we're doing writing, or as an organization, when we're running our business, we wanna save time and save money.

And so our benefit number three is just that. Writing this letter of intent will save you both time and money in the long run. Not only will you be able to get a better sense of ensuring that you are a great fit for the grantor, but if you come across a grant, you think you're a great fit, and they're like, "Uhhh, you know, our previous people who we funded, we're not in alignment. This is not a great fit for you." Now you've just saved money. Sometimes you might run across an application that you have to actually pay for. And so by sending this letter of intent, you're saving yourself that application fee by making sure that you are in alignment with the grantor and who they fund before you go and apply.

Cause a lot of times, and a lot of times I've seen with my clients, we go into those grants and we're like, oh, I think I'm a great fit. I'm just gonna apply. And sometimes we spend money on application fees and we just don't take time to actually introduce ourselves to the grantor, let them know who we are and that we're interested.

And we wonder if we're a great fit. And they send us back and go, absolutely. We think you should apply. Here's our application. Nice. Now, you know me, now you know what I do, and now I'm not just, you know, shooting an arrow with my eyes closed, or shooting a dart with my eyes closed, but I'm actually in alignment with this grantor.

And it just gives you a better sense of, you know, being in the right place and doing the right thing. So those are three huge benefits to writing an LOI. But I wanna hear from you guys. For those who are experienced, or even for those who are listening and you, you've identified a way that, you know, maybe you can pull out another benefit.

I would love for you to share that in the chat. Are there any other benefits of constructing and sending out a letter of intent that you have found have been super beneficial to you and to your organization? So I'm gonna be checking in here to see.

Celia: I'm excited to see what people say. Ashley says she is right.

Arnisha: Ashley says, oh, go ahead. Go ahead. 

Celia: No, go ahead. You've got it.

Arnisha: Ashley, great. Yes. Using it as a persuasive document to show the mission alignment. That's awesome. Shelly, you're right on it. Organizing the thoughts before starting something longer. Absolutely. Cause some of those applications are not a, you know, a cake walk they're, they're pretty extensive.

And so being able to, you know, get a shortened version before you start to build out that longer application is definitely gonna help you. Yes. Helps you clarify your case statement. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Definitely wanna show the grantor that you've done your homework. Yes, absolutely. And especially when you, when you find their contact information you've already done a good amount of homework, cuz sometimes that information is not just sitting anywhere.

Sometimes you gotta go digging a little bit, but it's really good when you find that information. It's like, oh, they, they really wanna know who I am and vice versa. Yes. Describing your impact helps introduce the idea that you are organized and connected to the community being served by the grant.

Absolutely. Absolutely. I use it as a point of entry to a follow up call with the funder. Okay, Susan. Nice, nice. So some really, really great stuff. So for those who are, you know, new and have those questions, please remember, any questions we don't wanna miss them, make sure that you have the hash, the three hashtags or the three,

you know, phone number signs in front of the question so we don't miss your question, but for those who are new, these are great, great examples and all really good benefits to ensuring that when you write this letter of intent, it does serve a huge purpose for you, but also for the grantor or the funder as well.

Really good stuff. Great job everyone. Thank you for your participation. I'm really, really excited. Alright, so let's dive into. When we wanna write that, right? So what are the requirements? What do we need to be including? Now this list are these questions. These are not exhaustive questions. Obviously, if you find that your organization can hone in or pull out or extract some important information that

isn't necessarily covered with these questions, please feel free to include them, but what I've done and what my team and I have done is, we've looked at a numerous amount of grants. And what we found is these six similar questions resonate through all application processes. So when we use these questions to start answering them and start constructing them in a narrative, it then

becomes a, almost an answer sheet, if you will, to establish yourself with the grant that you're intending to apply for. So the very first question, who are you and what do you do? This is that, that very hard piece of, oh no, that's a great place. You can go. This is the heartbeat of, you know, that, that power.

I'm in the door. This is who I am. I am me. And this is how you know, this is the involvement I have with my business. So when you include that, that's your, that's your true introduction? Hello? I'm Arnisha. This is what I do. Now, what your organization does and introducing who you serve, all of those three questions would go into that very first paragraph.

So if you guys are looking at the screen, the left, this is gonna be the actual template that I send to you. And so what I wanted to do is ensure that when you get this template, you know how these questions start to formulate into an actual document. So here we have this very first paragraph. And what I like to do is I like to use that as the introduction piece, answering the questions, who am I, what I do, what does my organization do and who do I serve?

Right. And so then once you're able to articulate those, the next questions, that next paragraph, is starting to break that part down. So we'll go to the next item. We'll talk about the second paragraph of those questions. So these two questions here are where your second paragraph is gonna dive deep.

Right? What impact does your organization have on the particular community that you serve and how do you measure that impact or success? Now, I like to use data or statistics in order to back up some industry challenges, because a lot of times, and especially if, like for myself as a black owned and woman owned business, there are still funding gaps.

Even with, you know, just our industry. And so being able to not only talk about what impact I have on the community, but backing it up with statistical data as how, you know, this industry or this community is suffering, or they are underserved or underrepresented and how my organization comes into effect in order to impact them on this particular level.

This is that second paragraph. So when we're taught, when a grantor funder is looking at this, they're getting a snapshot of who you are, your mission, your value, you know, what you do in the community, in the community that you serve. But that second part is where we pull on the heartstrings of our funder.

We let them know, listen, this community that I am impacting, they deserve the work that we're doing. They need the things that we are bringing to the community. And here is why, because stats show, statistics show that this particular group and community are lacking this and I am bringing it to them. And how am I measuring that success? By putting on X amount of programs, by providing this many things or this many particular items or products to the community, that's where you really sell yourself and your unique selling proposition to the funder.

And then the last question, which is the last paragraph. Now, obviously we're talking to funders, right? So we gotta talk about money, right? And this is where we really need to be specific, as specific as you can be. So the last question and the last paragraph, we'll go to the next slide. This right here is the biggest part.

So this is where you gotta sell yourself, okay? What do you need funding for and why? And I want you guys to be very, very specific in your ask. Okay. So that means if you are an organizational director or founder, your job, your position is that you have to know what you're looking for. So going to your information or to your business breakdown, you've gotta identify how much money you're needing. What is that money gonna go towards? And not only that, but tell... yes, Angela. Yes. They need to know how important having this money in your organization is, what, what will it do, right? What impact will it make?

So. As you can see in here, I say narrow in on the different ways that funding your proposed project or the goal that you need, how it opens many doors for your community, ensuring that the growth of your audience in the, in the community and the overall impact, lets those grantors know that what you're doing, what you're striving for is unique

and necessary. That is the biggest piece. So talk about your numbers and don't be afraid if even if the application you're, you know, applying for, or considering applying for is a, let's say $20,000, but truly, in order to make the impact on the level that you wanna make is $50,000, ask for that $50,000, put it in your application, be bold about your ask and you know what they're gonna say?

Well, this application only funds $20,000, but we think you're a great fit. Okay. Guess what? Now I just got 20 out of the $50,000 that I need, and now I need to go find the other 30, so be specific in your ask and let them know that what you're doing is unique and it's also necessary. And imperative, not just important, but imperative, to the community that you serve.

And then obviously you wanna leave them with, you know, if we're a great fit, send us the application. And that's the salutation part. So this template, what I'm showing you guys will be sent to you. I've already, I'm getting my emails now. Some of you are already clicking on stuff, which I'm excited that you'll be getting that in your inbox pretty soon, but feel free to download it and begin.

So let's talk about how we pull it all together. Now, this part right here, we're showing you, you know, what it looks like, but when you've actually done the work, what does it look like when it's all together? Okay. So we're gonna show you an example of the work that I did for a client. Her business is Royalty Accounting Firm.

So you can see the layout of it, and I'm not gonna read it too in depth. But I just wanna show a couple things. So the top, as you notice her logo is there, that's super important because we wanna show and establish ourselves as a legitimate business or organization. So making sure, you know, even if you don't have a logo, that's okay.

Just, you know, make sure that you have your name, your title or your role in your organization. The name of your organization and where you're located. And then obviously you can see here in that first paragraph, we start to talk about her business. We pull on the fact that she is certified as a black owned and woman owned business.

So if you have those certifications, please don't shy away from those. Make sure you tell them that, you know, I am certified as a black owned and woman owned, veteran owned, whatever business or organization and the work that you do in the community. And as you notice here, she serves the people in and around Jacksonville, Florida.

So if you are, you know, offering virtual services, put that service, you know, the United States, like, show your impact. As you can see here in the second paragraph, we go into, you know, the statistics. So even though we don't have an actual numerical stat, we show that a lot of times over the last few years, we have recognized the growth of business capital being accessible and available.

However, for those startup businesses, it's still very hard to penetrate. It's still very hard to get that funding. And a lot of times when we see these startups outside of tech that offer these big plans that provide education, this is where, you know, we don't have that support. And so this is why it's important for us,

in this case for her company, to receive funding and to be the recipient of funding for minority startups, so that she can be the example, so that she can be, you know, a leader in, you know, the start of something that we wanna see more of. And that's more startups getting funded. And then at the very bottom or not at the very, very bottom, but that third paragraph, you know, we talk about seeking funding.

Someone can't see the template. Aw, I'm sorry. Well, Derek you'll get, you'll get the template and then I did provide and I will have my information as well, so we can always schedule some outside time to walk through it, if you would like to see that yourself. But for the sake of time, we'll keep going just a little bit.

So yeah, that third paragraph is definitely just showing, you know, why she's leading that funding. You're very welcome. So securing payroll for her employees, obtaining business coaching, expanding into a larger office. Now as organizations and nonprofits, your ask might be a little different, but again, go bold, ask for it and be explicit in the amount that you're looking for.

And then obviously our next step is to request and receive the grant application. Please send it here if we are in alignment, we're looking forward to working with you. And so sending this to your grantors or to your funders, like I said, is gonna be that formal and that great introduction to getting your foot in the door.

But also, they're gonna remember you because you did something that not a lot of people do, you reached out directly to them and that, that exposure. And that awareness early on in the grant application is what leads people to being, you know, receiving the award versus others that just went and applied. Now, I'm not guaranteeing that when you send a letter of intent, you're gonna be guaranteed an award.

I cannot guarantee that cause we all know grants are not guaranteed, but I can definitely tell you that this will, this will give you a higher percentage in exposure with those funders, cuz they're gonna remember you. And some of them might even reach out and say, While this grant is not in alignment, we do have some other things coming down the pipeline.

We recommend you do X, Y, and Z to stay in the loop and not miss out. What a phenomenal way of being on their radar and them actually saying like, we want you to stay with us a little bit. Here's what we have coming up. It's not open right now, but it will be, and that's a perfect fit for you. We wanna make sure you get the first notification when it comes out.

Wow. Right. Wow. So definitely, definitely it has a purpose for sure. Alright. So let's head back to the presentation so we can talk about what is next. And I am loving your questions guys, and we're gonna get to them. So thank you so much for using those hashtags so we can see and make sure that we get an opportunity to answer those for you.

So keep 'em coming. Alright. Alright. I think we're good there. Yep. Yeah. So the three biggest learning takeaways, and I'm gonna actually ask for a little bit more participation, just a sec. But the three big ones is writing a compelling letter of intent can assess if you're a great fit before applying, it can also and will for sure save you time and money, and it does require your ability to be able to answer those six imperative

grant questions. So. From you guys, I would love for you down in the chat to write one takeaway that you have gathered, whether you are experiencing, you learn something new, whether you are new and you learned something new. But please put down, you know, one takeaway that you've gathered from this call and from this workshop today.

Martha says the...

Celia: That's a great question. I'm excited to hear the answers.

Arnisha: Oh!

Celia: Let's see.

Arnisha: Yes, absolutely. Yep. Letter of intent, letter of intent, letter of inquiry is interchangeable. Yes. Express unique, necessary and imperative. Woo. Katrina. Yes. Yes.

Absolutely, learning how to write them. Don't need to be overly formal, just please explain in plain language what you do with... Yes! And keep it fun. I mean, I listen, that thesaurus is your best friend. So if you're like, I don't want to use good, go to the thesaurus, amp it up a bit. 

Celia: I love that tip.

Arnisha: Be bold in asking for what you need. Yes, Julian, absolutely. Do not stray away and be afraid. Listen, if you are serving a community and you love the work that you're doing, and we know having a nonprofit, running a nonprofit, it takes a lot of philanthropic heart. And so to, to go into a conversation, being shy about what you need in order to serve that community,

that is not where you wanna be. You wanna be bold, you wanna shout it from the rooftops. You wanna run by so fast that you can see it as clear as day that this is what I am looking for. This is what we need in order to just have a tremendous impact. And we're asking you, do you, can you give it to us? Yes.

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So many great, great things. Definitely keeping the LOI brief, but compelling. Absolutely, Derek. Absolutely. I never thought of an LOI bringing a grant maker's attention to you and a chance to start a relationship. Nice, Melissa. I'm so glad that now you know that this can be such a tremendous open door for nonprofits.

And Sheila says I'm starting a nonprofit and really need funding for a startup. Well, you've come to a great place and Instrumentl is going to be such an imperative tool to your journey. And I can't wait for you guys to learn more about the work that they do and how it can help. Awesome. I enjoy looking at those I, oh my gosh.

You guys are just, you're so phenomenal. I love it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Alright. So some really, really great questions. And I wanna make sure that we get a chance to get to them. So don't forget, put those hashtags on the front so we don't miss them. Cause there's some really, really great ones.

And I, I definitely wanna make sure that we can get, 

Celia: Well, we have tons of questions. We're gonna have a great chance to chat about those here in a little bit. Awesome. Okay. 

Arnisha: So what is next? Alright. So for you guys, especially for my organizations out there who are just getting started, who are creating their LOIs for the first time, here's what you wanna do, gather all of your important documents.

Okay. All of the logistics, all of your 501c3 or c4 paperwork, your EIN, gather all of those things that, you know, got you started in creating your organization. And as you pull those things together I want you to also think about things like your mission statement, your vision, your value. And even if those things are in the works, still keep, continue formulating them.

Because once you do that, then you can begin recording the responses to those six imperative questions we talked about before. And if you are in a position to hire a grant writer. And you're like, you know what? I just wanna, you know, keep doing my day to day, keep working with the community, I'm gonna outsource this, get yourself a grant writer.

But if you're like me, I wanna practice and do this thing myself. Absolutely. The free template is available to you to construct your own LOI. And remember step four, use your Instrumentl account to compile a list of eligible grants. I have tested it out, and I kid you not, even though I don't own a nonprofit, the organization, the level of ability to be able to put in your profile and get those grants that are in alignment,

like... To your, and even to your projects, in one place and the contact information on the side, like the work is pretty much done for you. So use your Instrumentl account to help you get all of that, all of those eligible grants in one place so that you can locate the grantors contact information and start sending your LOIs to them,

right? Start establishing that relationship before you go into applying. And then once you do that, I mean, you're gonna come back and you're gonna tell us like, Hey, I got the grant. Cause we wanna know. We wanna share your success and also celebrate you as well. Awesome. Okay. Okay. So. 

Celia: That's awesome, Arnisha, thank you so much for walking us through that.

I am gonna just take a couple of minutes here to run through a couple of things on the Instrumentl side and really sort of tie this back and show you how you can sort of use a tool like Instrumentl to kind of get to where Arnisha is talking about with, with some of these LOIs and the strategy around that.

So that's what we're gonna hop into. Make sure you sort of stay with us on this because we are going to talk about the freebie at the end. I'll share that link again in the chat and that will give you access to a freebie from us and also that template that Arnisha was talking about. So. So stick with me here.

So at a high level, instrumentl is the institutional fundraising platform, right? So this is one platform for all prospecting, tracking, and managing of grants. And why people love Instrumentl, what makes it so powerful is that it gives you lists of only active public, private, corporate and government opportunities.

And then it continues to actively search for all of that for you. And send you a dedicated update each week. So it's sort of like having a personal assistant in your pocket, who's sort of in the background running and doing that prospecting for you. And that's just the prospecting. On the backside, when you're sort of through that kind of initial stage, Instrumentl helps you really dig through that research.

So we'll go through it here in a second and you'll see what I mean, but it makes it really easy to sort of visualize and quickly uncover whether or not that funder is gonna be a good match for your organization. Things like looking at their past giving history, what other organizations have they given to?

What are those median gift amounts, things like that are really helpful. So over the next minute or two here... oh, and the last thing I'll say before we hop in here is, this is really effective for folks. You'll see here, this, this bottom bullet point our users are saving three hours a week on grant writing.

And they're increasing their output by 78%. So you're getting, you know, more output for less work, which I think is ultimately kind of the dream in the nonprofit world. We're all sort of resource and time constrained here. So I am going to just really quickly kind of show you what this looks like.

I'm also dropping a chat here, a link here into the chat so that you can follow along with me. So that is your access to 14 days free on the platform, no credit card required, no commitment required, but it's a really nice way to kind of get in there and put into practice some of the things we're talking about today kind of while they're fresh in your mind.

So I recommend everyone goes in there and kind of goes through, I think it's also a really... just the process of setting up your account is really powerful in thinking about. What is your organization? What do you wanna go after, what's important to you? And so I think that sometimes just that activity alone can be really powerful

in kind of getting you aligned. But I wanna show you kind of what we're talking about when we're talking about Instrumentl. So if you look at my screen right now, you'll see that I am set up in a project that I'm calling curriculum development and what I'm doing here, the goal of this organization is to develop some entrepreneurial training.

I think there's a lot of overlap with what our, with our, what our niche is doing. But some entrepreneurial training. And what I've done is I've told Instrumentl I'm fundraising for this project. I'm in a particular location. And I wanna know about any active grants that are in my area. And what we'll see here in this funder opportunity matches is all of the active opportunities that match that search.

So this is essentially the first pass. This is the virtual assistant that's done the first pass. So what we can see here, if we kind of click into one of these, we can see information on how much is the grant available? What are the fields of work? This is a huge, funding use. So Arnisha had mentioned earlier, that piece being really important at the end of your LOI.

What are you going to use these funds for? This is an awesome way to see quickly whether or not you're aligned there, are they only giving to, you know, capital related expenditures and you need this for curriculum development, not a good match, keep it moving, right? And so that's what we're trying to do here.

You can also see things like, if we kind of go into this 9-90 report I'm sure some of you are familiar with sort of sleuthing through the 990s and this is really pulling all that data out and visualizing it in a way that makes it super quick to see kind of what they've done in the past.

So I'm able to see a sort of total giving over the last few years. I can see the medians. So this is awesome. And thinking about that question, Arnisha was saying, ``What are we asking for?” Are you asking for enough, if you see that the median is 25 K and you're asking for five, maybe you should be asking for more.

And so this is a really nice way to kind of think about that and, and to sort of get yourself organized as you're writing an LOI or even the proposal. Couple other things I'll show you in here that I think are really powerful. This geographic is nice because you can see if they're giving to people in your area, how many they're giving to.

We can even go in and see which organizations specifically are giving. And that's a nice way to kind of cross reference, you know, is, am I likely to get this grant? Have they given to someone like my organization in the past? This section I love, so this is openness to new grantees, and this is so important because there are so many applications out there that sound great, but you may not realize that they're only giving to the same grantees every single year, and instead of sort of spending your time on these grants where maybe,

5% - 10% of that money is going to new grantees, so you're in a hugely competitive space, you can instead kind of refocus your energy on the ones where they're open to it. So our rule of thumb, anything over 30% new grantees is a great place to be. Underneath that, you get a little competitive. So this is a great opportunity.

41% of awards have gone to new grantees. So that's a little bit on the sort of high level of sort of what the opportunity matches. The other thing I wanna show you really quickly is this funder matches section. And this is important because a lot of what Arnisha was talking about today was using the LOI as a way to begin building a relationship with an organization.

And this is where we wanna get to, we wanna get away from this kind of reactive grant searching, to a more proactive approach. And so thinking about, okay, who are the organizations out there? Maybe they don't have active opportunities or they're not listed on their website or it's an invite only situation.

That's what we're seeing here. So these are organizations where maybe they don't have something active right now, but you can begin the process. You can come in here, we can come down and see, you know, what are they giving further down there's information in here on sort of who is relevant, right?

So who, who sits on the board, things like that. And you can begin kind of doing your research and focusing those LOIs on some of these organizations, and then maybe you will be the invite when they do open that opportunity up. So here we've got contact info. We've got key people, send this to your board, does anybody know anybody? You know, start that relationship building process there. And then the last thing I'll show you really quickly is once you have found those prospects and you're happy with them, you can really quickly add them to your tracker. So what this looks like, I save it. I can tell it what status I want.

This is great. If I wanna do more research, I just leave it in research. If I'm ready to start writing, I can kind of put it in here. I can add some notes and then I can save it. And then when I come into my tracker, I've got everything right here. So this isn't just a prospecting tool. This is the whole life cycle.

This is from the beginning, all the way to planning, keeping your team engaged, all of that. And then a couple new features that I want to talk about really quickly. And I'll just show you what it looks like here. We now have a calendar view, so this is available for anyone on the Standard Plan and above.

And today, if you go ahead and get that free trial, what you'll be getting is a free trial of the Standard Plan. And that's not gonna last forever. So I would say if you're interested, definitely jump on that opportunity to get into the Standard Plan, but I can see all of my submission goals in one place.

I don't know about you, but seeing it listed out in a spreadsheet just doesn't do anything for me. but being able to see it on the calendar and understand what's happening each week is just so powerful and helpful. The other thing that's really cool about this is we've got some cycles, right?

So now one of the things that Instrumentl is doing, has done, with this new with these new features is now we have improved deadline tracking. So we can actually show you when the LOI is due and when the proposal is due and you can keep those things separate from one another. So that you're not missing dates and you're not getting confused by sort of throwing everything into one deadline when there's actually multiple deadlines.

So that I think is a little bit on the platform itself. I'm just gonna hop back in here so we can run through the last few things and then we'll give this some Q&A. Let's get this. Oh, so these are just some of the features. So these features launched last week. So you all are probably the first group to really kind of get a look at this in a partner webinar.

So congratulations. But those are calendar views, which I just showed you. We now integrate with Salesforce. So if you're an organization that's really heavily relying on sales force. No more raking data, no more exporting CSPs. It's all in one place. The application cycles, this is that piece I was telling you about that deadline tracking.

So now... and I'm pretty sure we're the only one out there that actually lets you kind of parse out that data, but you can keep those things separate. And also together at the same time. And then finally we have a consultant plan. So I don't know if there's any consultants in the audience, but if you are working with multiple clients let's talk because this is a really easy way to keep everybody separate, but still be able to kind of see what they're working on and easily collaborate there.

So yeah, the calendar view I just talked about, some salesforce integration, the application cycles, the consultant plan. Alright, so that's kind of it for me, the last few things before we get to Q&A, if you all enjoyed this presentation, I really recommend that you check out some of the other events that we have coming up.

I'm gonna just drop a quick little link down here. So we do these almost weekly. We're tackling all kinds of topics around grant writing and the nonprofit world. So I recommend you check those out. For example, I think Arnisha mentioned using data in your LOIs. We just did a session last week with Amanda Fey Lipsey on using evidence based data in your proposals and in your grant writing, it was an awesome session that's available on YouTube so check that out if you're interested. And yeah, we would love to see you at more of these. So click that link and sign up for anything else. We do have a session coming up on the 17th where we are gonna look at 990s and it's gonna be fun. There's a scavenger hunt. There will be prizes for winners.

So it's gonna be a way to like, get your hands on that data and kind of feel confident about parsing through that 990 data. And then finally, as promised... oh, actually, really quick, if you wanna follow up with Arnisha here is all of this information, go ahead and write that down. You can follow up with her directly.

I'm sure you can find her online. She is everywhere. In all the best ways. Okay. And finally, freebees I know we've been pushing this. We've been talking about this. I am dropping that link again to the freebees. All you have to do is go in there. Fill out a couple of things and you will get two freebies today.

The first thing is that awesome template that Arnisha shared with us, that LOI template. I saw people in the chat being like, give me that template. So this is how you do that. And then the second thing is our 10 best lessons from 10 grant writing professionals. So this is really awesome, kind of tidbits of information from

experts and best sellers that we've collected over the years. So you definitely don't wanna miss either of those. Sign up for both of those. Alright. Whew. That was a lot. Let's get to the questions. What do you think? 

Arnisha: Yes. Yes. Yes. There are so many. 

Okay. There are 

Celia: So many questions. So I'm really excited. I'm just gonna kind of run through, I'll kind of try to parse out so that we get some different ones, but we will do what we can.

We've got nine minutes. Hopefully we can get to some good questions here. So one of the first questions we got was from Sheila, should you still apply for the grant, if you had missed the LOI date? 

Arnisha: Yes. Yes, you definitely should. So as long, like if you're within the parameters of the grant application. Still apply for the grant.

And even if you miss the formal LOI, it doesn't hurt to send it, you know, just apologizing within the email. You know, I do apologize for missing the formal LOI date. But I wanted to just send this and see if we could still develop a relationship and, you know, start the conversation before I apply.

So absolutely. Absolutely. It's never too late. I would apologize later, like, do it, do it, you know? 

Celia: Yep. Ask for forgiveness, right? 

Arnisha: Absolutely. 

Celia: From Char- well, sorry, Charlie asked a similar question. And would you recommend any differences in approach for an LOI to a corporate foundation or a community impact committee?

versus an LOI for a charitable nonprofit foundation? 

Arnisha: So obviously I would vary it based on some of the information that's given, but you can keep it simplistic. So if you have a structure that you want to just send to everyone, feel free to do that. And then obviously, you know, when we're writing and sending our LOIs, it's very good to adapt as you learn more.

So if you see that corporate grants are looking for a specific type of feel or introduction, you may wanna adjust, you know, maybe that middle section, when you start to talk about those statistics and things like that, to make it relevant to the persons who you're talking to. So absolutely, you know, learn as you grow.

It's very similar to writing an essay for scholarships, not one essay fits everybody's scholarship, but it's a great framework to just get started and then adapt as you go. Great question. 

Celia: That's awesome. Okay. From [Equame'] do all foundations that give grants require an LOI? 

Arnisha: No, some of them don't. So it's good that you go in, as you're looking and especially with, you know, using Instrumentl, you go in and look at all of your requirements, you will see that some of them do require you to have an LOI and to send that in, and some don't.

So just make sure that as you're compiling that information, and again, going back to those next steps, as you're gathering all of that information before you begin to apply, and before you send it to the funder, just go in and check to see if, you know, they have specific deadlines for certain things so that you can meet those deadlines and still be able to establish that relationship.

Good question. 

Celia: Okay. Great question. Alright. From Tim, how much demographic info, how specific do you need to be in the LOI? 

I would 

Arnisha: Say if you're, if you're trying to keep it within one page, I would touch on a few statistics that really hone into the depth of the work that you're doing and the community that you serve.

And then obviously in your more elongated application, you start to throw in more of those statistics. Especially, you know, when it comes down to like federal grants, for example, then lay it on them. Put down every stat that you find that is applicable to that application, because they love to see that, they love to see that you've done a good amount of homework to ensure that the impact that you're making has that statistical data to back it up.

But absolutely, I would just say, you know, one or two stats to really hone in the depth of what you're doing. 

Celia: Cool. Tim asked another question. Do you find that you are more successful in an LOI talking about non-financial participants, IE artists versus paying participants? ie, an audience or a patron or something like that?

Specifically, he's talking about performance arts. 

Arnisha: Can you repeat that question one more time? 

Celia: Yeah, absolutely. So I think he, what he's asking is, in terms of talking about the audience that you're sort of serving, do you find that you're more successful talking about non-financial participants? So folks that aren't necessarily paying for something versus paying participants? So having an audience or patrons or something like that.

Arnisha: I, I mean, me personally, especially within nonprofit, I would focus on those who aren't receiving the funding, because then the impact of you receiving that amount and being able to serve them makes a bigger and, and more impactful vision of your impact versus, I have paid clients and I'm looking to do more with these paid clients.

And it's not to deter you from doing that, but if you serve both communities, I would hone into the fact that you have an underrepresented community that needs that financial support and through giving to your organization, you're able to support them without them having to, you know, really do much or really having to pull into their pockets to, you know, be served.

So great question. 

Celia: Great. Alright. And then we have a question from Elsa. Is it good practice to send an LOI to a funder who does not publicly post funding opportunities? So I think that's kinda what we're talking about in that funder matches section. 

Arnisha: Absolutely. Absolutely. I will, I will say, oh my gosh, I can't remember the person's name, but there was... oh, my God...

it was, it was somebody's billionaire wife. I can't remember exactly. And, and if you know it, put it in the chat, but she actually posted her giving secretly. And it was on Yes, yes, yes, yes. And she gave away billions of dollars and not many people knew, but once they found out her information was out there.

So absolutely. If you find, you know, that there is a funder or a giver or grantor that hasn't publicly acknowledged or announced that they're giving money, introduce yourself to them and see if there is something within their pipeline that they have coming out soon or later, that applies to you, so you can continue following them to ensure you get those notifications right away.

So you don't miss out the next time. Absolutely. 

Celia: Alright. 

Arnisha: Good. Thank you so much for that. 

Celia: Yeah. Yeah, that was great. I loved it when she gave Jeff Bezos's money away. 

Arnisha: That's what it was, it was like, I knew it was somebody's wife and she just was like, there you go. Like, OK. 

Celia: That was great. Her money too, you know, but alright.

Eve asked we're gonna rapid fire cause we got two minutes here. So you've asked, do you ha- do you need to mention past project financials? How much was received? And past funding. 

Arnisha: No, no, not in this conversation. No. 

Celia: Alright. Jill says, I thought it was part of the research to know how much a funder usually gives shouldn't the ask be in line with that rather than way more?

Arnisha: It, I mean, me, I, I go big. So if they are, cuz they'll be the one to tell you whether or not, you know, Hey, what you're looking for, we, we give this amount. So I would let them tell you, cuz it's the same thing in, in, in business when we don't wanna estimate other people's pockets. So it's that like, even though we have that data that shows and.

Like Celia just pointed out, you know, there, there are different averages. So maybe at one point they did give more, but only this time they gave, you know, they're giving a little less, so absolutely ask for your ask and let them tell you whether or not, Hey, we can only give this much during this round, but you can apply next year to get continuation funds.

See what I'm saying? So let them tell you. 

Celia: Yep. Yep. We have a question here from Charlie, should you incorporate the granter's language into your LOI? 

Arnisha: Absolutely. If you can do that, do that, because what that does and exactly this is one of the points that someone brought up as far as a takeaway or a benefit.

Was that when you are able to tie in their language, you've done your research. And so, because they know that, you're showing that, Hey, I am in alignment with what I'm looking at, but I want you to be able to just confirm that we are in alignment. Here's what I have to offer. Here's what I'm doing. So yes, absolutely use their language that ju-, that just strengthens your impact.

Celia: Awesome. Okay. We are right at the top of the hour. I wanna be respectful of your time and everybody else's time. This is amazing. We didn't get through all the questions. So if you have a burning question, reach out to Arnisha and I will actually put her information up here on the screen. So make sure you reach out to her.

You will all be getting an email in the next 24 hours-ish with the replay and the slides. So you can sleuth through and pull out whatever you want. I'm just dropping one more time, that signup link for everybody for today. So go ahead and check that out and get signed up here. So, alright, everybody.

Thanks so much. And it was great having you. 

Arnisha: Thank you so much. Bye everyone.

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