Grant Writing

The Importance and the Role of the Letter of Intent in Grantsmanship

The Letter of Intent is telling the funding agency that you plan to apply for funding and while it is not a contractual agreement, it is a first impression that in some cases cannot be reversed. Depending on the funding agency, in some cases only approved projects that pass through the Letter of Intent review will be asked to submit a full application proposal. In all cases, but this case in particular, the Letter of Intent must reflect the structure and logic of your full proposal in a concentrated format that communicates your general intention, your specific aims and key objectives, a preliminary budget and provide tangible evidence of the significance of your proposal.

  • Ensure that you have all of the proper instructions for completing the Letter of Intent for not only your chosen organization, but also your specific RFP. Then, revisit your one-page specific aims document and use similar phrases within your Letter of Intent to ensure the significance and need are communicated in your Letter of Intent.
  • In your excitement do not glaze over the important administrative details, double-check your:
    • Name, address, and telephone number of the Principal Investigator(s), and the
    • Number and title of the funding opportunity.
    • Think hard about the team members you list as your key personnel, in many cases having a name and institution associated with each role, rather than a “to be determined” placeholder makes your application stronger.
    • If you have multiple institutions participating, be sure to highlight the collaborations and the various strengths each partner brings to the table.
  • 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 page that explains the ability of your hospital 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.

Further Reading