About Inquiry Letters
- Inquiry letters, when written properly, can open a door you are trying to walk through. Their primary function is to introduce yourself to a person or organization, and to learn what your next step should be in the process.
- Inquiry letters are typically written as the first step in applying for a grant from a foundation; to express an interest in a job with a company and to ask for more information about the position; to express an interest in an area one is considering moving to; to ask for information on a school one is thinking of sending their children; to companies and individuals for information genealogical researchers are seeking for their family's histories; or to individuals as the first step when one is compiling biographical information on a person for a paper for school or for the media.
- An inquiry letter should be written long before you actually need the information you are seeking. You never know what someone's schedule is like at the receiving end of the letter, and your failure to act promptly does not constitute an emergency for the recipient. Allow plenty of time but do include in the letter a time by which you would like to receive a response. If you do not hear anything by that time, you can write a follow-up letter or make a phone call to make certain they received the first letter.
- An inquiry letter should be brief, concise and informative, all on one page. The letter should be formatted as any business letter. A link is provided in the resource section of this article to the Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin for a good example of the format one should use. In this format the first sentence should briefly and clearly state your purpose in writing the inquiry letter. The second statement should introduce you or your organization. The body of the letter should explain how you or your organization would benefit from what you are asking for. The last paragraph should thank them for the opportunity to be considered.
- Some organizations and individuals receive more inquiries than they can ever consider or even respond to, so not all organizations will respond to your letter. Or if they do, it will be with a form letter. The most important thing to remember when writing an inquiry letter is that its tone should be respectful.