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Crafting a Competitive LOI

Tuesday, May 24, 2016 11:00 am - 12:30 pm  PT

This event is no longer available.

Live webinars are scheduled for Eastern Time.

The ability to write a first-class letter of inquiry is a skill that all proposal writers need in order to remain competitive in today’s funding environment.

Join FC Trainers and guest presenter Frances Phillips, of the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, for first-hand insights into what funders are looking for in a first impression. More and more, funders are asking for a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) as the first step in the proposal process. The LOI is like a mini-proposal — except you only have one-to-three pages (depending on the funder’s guidelines) to get your message across. The foundation will use your LOI to decide whether your project or program is a good funding fit for them, and only then will they invite you to submit a full proposal. Join us to learn how to overcome the challenges of writing LOIs that are both compelling and concise.


  • Know what is commonly included in a strong LOI
  • Be equipped to write a compelling LOI
  • Understand how the LOI is used by foundation staff to vet projects and programs

Intended audience:

  • Grantseekers who have some fundraising experience and want to hone their foundation proposal writing skills
  • Individuals who want to begin a career as a grant proposal writer
  • Consultants who want to expand their services to include proposal writing
  • Students interested in gaining knowledge about the nonprofit sector and fundraising
  • Volunteers who want to help their organizations with tangible fundraising skills

INSTRUCTORS: FRANCES PHILLIPS, Walter and Elise Haas Fund; and SARAH JO NEUBAUER, Foundation Center


Frances Phillips, Program Director for the Arts and Creative Work Fund at the Walter and Elise Hass Fund 
Frances Phillips is program director for the Arts and The Creative Work Fund at the Walter and Elise Haas Fund in San Francisco. She was previously executive director of Intersection for the Arts (1988-1994) and director of the Poetry Center at San Francisco State University (1985-88). Phillips has more than 20 years of experience with fundraising and grantwriting for non-profit organizations in the fields of arts, humanities, health, education, and human services. She serves on the boards of the California Alliance for Arts Education, Community Initiatives, Grantmakers in the Arts, and GreatNonprofits; and she is co-editor of the Grantmakers in the Arts Reader (a professional journal).
In 2001, Frances and Stan Hutton published The Nonprofit Kit for Dummies, a guide to starting and managing nonprofit organizations, published by Wiley. A fourth edition of The Nonprofit Kit for Dummies was released in 2014. Phillips also is the author of three books of poetry published by Kelsey Street Press (Berkeley, CA) and by Hanging Loose Press (Brooklyn, NY). She reviews poetry, fiction, and nonfiction for local and national newspapers and journals, and she is a member of the Northern California Book Reviewers Association. Phillips holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and a B.A. in Literature and Languages from Reed College.


Sarah Jo Neubauer, Capacity and Leadership Development Director, Foundation Center 
Sarah Jo has been enthusiastically connecting social sector change makers to the resources they need to succeed since joining Foundation Center in 2006. Utilizing her background and skills in librarianship, community organizing, training, and fundraising, Sarah Jo leads the Capacity and Leadership Development team to strengthen one of the organization’s core social sector services: Foundation Center Training. Foundation Center Training serves social sector professionals of all levels and in all corners of the world through in-person and online learning opportunities in fundraising, organizational sustainability, and leadership and management. 
Sarah Jo received an M.L.S from San Jose State University and completed a B.A. at University of California, Santa Cruz. Sarah Jo enjoys yoga and gardening, and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her wife and four (yes, four!) rescued pets.  

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