Congratulations! You have a brilliant idea, a solid plan to propose, and now you’ve found a funding agency that is funding in your field. Now you have to submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) to tell the sponsor that you exist. Remember, while the Letter of Intent is not a contractual agreement, it is a first impression that in some cases cannot be reversed. The Letter of Intent should reflect the overall structure and logic of your full proposal.

Here are some tips to keep your letter focused and concise. Remember to check what your specific RFP (Request for Proposal or Application) requires. Most LOIs require some of these elements, but there may be a detailed specifications list from the Sponsor that you need to carefully follow.

  • The introduction should immediately establish the relevance of your proposal to human health, and establish a need by covering the current knowledge to help the less expert members of the review panel get up to speed from the most important, older knowledge to the edge of the field as it exists today.
  • The statement or assessment of need section needs to explain further the gap in knowledge base/unmet need that will drive your application. Introduce them to what is missing and therefore, holding back the field. Finish with a statement of need and objective evidence for its existence. Be sure to include a section on the geographical area and target study population, and any appropriate statistical information surrounding your topic.
  • The organization description is a very detailed and concise section that explains the ability of the organization as an organization to meet the needs of your project and foster a successful environment. You can provide a brief history of your department’s history, the history of the hospital and how the current resources and goals are supporting your future goals and the goals of this specific application.
  • The objectives section should describe what you seek to accomplish, which must be either to fill the gap or meet that need that you delineated in the introduction. Add a sentence or two about your central hypothesis and link it to the objective, and then how the central hypothesis was formulated—how you focused on this starting point. Close with your rationale to convey why you want to undertake the proposed research.
  • The project design section should present a logical and realistic succession of activities leading to each specific aim and to the eventual closing of the project.
  • The preliminary budget submitted with the letter of intent should be as accurate as you can reasonably be within the beginning stages of your proposal.

Good luck! Let me know if you have any questions about the Letter of Intent in the comments section below.