Letter of Interest
Guidelines to submitting a Letter of Interest (“LOI”) to the Foundation
Have you not received support from the Foundation before but are interested in making sure we are aware of your organization’s hard work, impact, and programming? Are you looking to be invited to apply for funding and receive the password to access the Application Packet for 2021 or some later year? This page will discuss protocols to follow and essential matters to keep in mind when you provide information about your charitable activities to the Foundation.
Everyone is welcome to mail us information pursuant to these guidelines, though no one is guaranteed a response and responses, if sent, could be years later and only if we eventually develop a program or initiative that we believe your operations would be a good fit within. Our priorities do change over time so we do value all information we receive as information we receive from you in 2021 may help us formulate programs in 2024 and beyond.
Our primary interests in 2021 are medical research, carbon sequestration, service learning, Louisiana and Mississippi based STEM initiatives, our shelter and food security program, and our excellence award program.
We will generally keep an LOI on file for a minimum of five years, so you should not send in an LOI more frequently than every five years. Be aware that the Foundation frequently plans its projects several years in advance, so you should not anticipate a response from us quickly even if we plan to ultimately invite your organization to submit an application over the next five years.
There is no strict format for an LOI to follow, share any information with us you feel is important or helpful about what you do, but there are some things you should keep in mind when deciding whether you should send in an LOI and what the LOI should include:
- Send one hard copy by mail only to the Brown Foundation office at 320 Metairie Hammond Highway, Suite 500, Metairie, LA 70005. We will absolutely not accept or review an LOI or any unsolicited request in any format other than being physically mailed to us (for example, we will not consider or even open attachments to electronic correspondence).
- Your LOI should include a cover letter that identifies your program, mission, and how you assist in alleviating human suffering. There are no formal length expectations or restrictions to your LOI though we do respectfully suggest that the entire LOI package you prepare for us be under 15 pages in length.
- Your LOI should indicate what dollar amount you would likely apply for if the Foundation authorizes you to submit a formal grant proposal (a range is fine, and we understand that circumstances sometimes change from the LOI to the formal grant application packet that may cause an unforeseen change on your end).
- We are specifically interested in how you measure your group’s impact and track success, consider identifying your measurable impact in your LOI. We prefer to see objective - as opposed to subjective - measurables and have it correlate to the alleviation of suffering.
- The Foundation frequently favors core human suffering initiatives over other projects; this means that core human suffering initiatives such as medical research may receive preferential consideration over a program that supports some type of economic development (as a non-exclusive example).
- We expect any group who is sending us an LOI to have a minimum of two (and preferably three) complete calendar years of well documented and positive full scale operating history. A partial year is not a calendar year. The date you received a favorable determination from the IRS as to your tax status may not be the day you actually commenced full scale operations.
- When we award a grant we want to see the money put into use as soon as possible, we will generally not make contributions to an endowment or capital campaign. Also, we will generally not support a brick and mortar build out. You are certainly welcome to inform us of your brick and mortar needs and any capital endowment drives that you may have ongoing, as we are interested in hearing about said projects, though we are not likely to contribute to the project and you are not likely to receive any feedback from us of any kind.
- Though we do on occasion support the general operating needs of our grant recipients, our usual preference is to support a specific project or program. Similarly, we generally do not support fiscal intermediary agencies or groups that re-grant out a monetary award (i.e., we want to work directly with the group or laboratory utilizing the money, not a fiscal intermediary).
- You may send us an LOI outlining your activities and mission if you are an organization which is recognized as an exempt organization by the Internal Revenue Service, be it a 501(c)(3) of Title 26 or a publicly supported organization such as a University or medical research institution. We are always interested in learning about the mission and impact of those working to alleviate human suffering.
- You are not guaranteed to receive a response to your LOI. You may only receive a response if and when we approve your group to submit an application in which case you will be provided a password to access the formal application to complete and turn in. Our staff is not authorized to answer questions about where you stand regarding your LOI, the only question they may respond to is whether they received your LOI. We do not publish our timetable on when we review an LOI. You should not contact our staff requesting feedback or meetings, we will contact you if we have questions.
- Please be aware that several years ago we dissolved both our Arts & Culture Committee and Religion Committee and have restructured the Education Committee to primarily include initiatives that are either service-learning based or in the science, technology, engineering, and math field (we support STEM - not STEAM - initiatives).
- We run our own programs and will favor such programs and initiatives over unsolicited projects and we are not soliciting LOI submissions. This means we are unlikely to provide a favorable response to an LOI for K-12 education or related programming (such as tutoring, mentoring, or other after school programs) over the next several years as we have specific ongoing programs that are focused on K-12 programming and are, therefore, unlikely to approve a K-12 program or education initiative to tender an application to us that is outside of the programs already inside of our Education Department or that we were not already running a program with in 2018, 2019 or 2020. If you are a K-12 education or related program of some type that is looking for support then first look if you fall under one of our specific programs (found here: https://www.thebrownfoundation.org/education.html ), and if you do not fall under one of those programs you are still welcome to send us an LOI though you should not expect a response of any kind from us.
- We will not approve an LOI for an advocacy based program; for example, we supported certain oncology research initiatives in 2020 rather than patient advocacy projects. Similarly, we are interested in providing financial support for certain environmental research initiatives such as through our carbon sequestration program but generally would not provide financial support for environmental advocacy programs as we are focused on environmental research.
- There are many reasons a submitted LOI may fail to result in an invitation over the five-year period following submission. As non-exclusive examples of reasons an LOI may not ultimately result in the receipt of an invitation to tender a formal application we may (a) feel you are primarily in the arts & culture or religion space or field and not primarily focused core human suffering initiatives that we may currently be focused on, (b) already have a partner in your space that you may be providing overlapping services with, (c) already be supporting your upstream or downstream partners, (d) feel there are more cost appropriate or specialized programs in your space, (e) feel that your marketing department and fundraising activities possibly dilute your impact, (f) be prioritizing other areas of emergency need, (g) feel you may be challenging or expensive to monitor or your impact may be challenging or expensive for us to measure, (h) already support another chapter/division of your organization, (i) feel the service you are proposing to provide will have already been provided by the time we would complete our due diligence and complete a review of an eventual formal application, (j) be focused on other programming areas such as fundamental science and basic research which is our current primary focus for new projects, (k) feel that you violated our protocols and/or made a direct solicitation to our staff outside of the LOI submission, or (l) feel you are heavily funded by government as we do not wish to subsidize or replace government funding outside of medical and environmental research programs.
- We initially look at organizations primarily based upon their main activities. We generally do not stretch to try and make an organization fit within a program we are running. For example, if you are a museum of high art that happens to run a food pantry, we would consider you an “arts and culture focused organization” rather than primarily an “assisting the hungry focused organization” and if you asked for support for your food pantry you would be at a disadvantage if we were also considering or anticipating a request from a specialized and licensed food bank.
- Our big initiative in 2019 was fundamental research in oncology and our big initiative in 2020 was fundamental research in the related field of healthy aging. We are continuing our healthy aging research initiative in 2021. If you are an individual principal investigator and you want us to know about your medical research, you should ask your university or parent research institution to send us information about the university or research institution. We are not considering inquiries for support from individual researchers even if they fit within our past oncology or current healthy ageing programs, the LOI should come from the administration office of your institution and feature multiple laboratories within the institution (and not a single project). Further, we are not looking to provide medical clinical support in 2021, so the development officer should stay focused on the basic research aspects of the institution and not ask us to support clinical programming.
- Submitting an LOI that results in your organization being invited to formally apply for funding does not guarantee that you will receive support from the Foundation; it merely is authorizing you to tender a formal grant application which will then be reviewed and considered. Applications are competitive and properly obtaining the password is merely the first step.
- Please be advised that we may conduct some due diligence into your organization that is beyond what you submitted to us with your LOI, and we may investigate anything you include in your LOI for accuracy. We may contact groups your organization has interacted with and make an inquiry about your impact or methodologies. Should your organization have some negative history or be involved in a significant controversy, it is better for you to disclose the negative history or significant controversy and address it in your LOI rather than have us find it on our own (this is true even if the negative history or significant controversy is at the national level and not your local chapter). If your organization is involved in litigation you must disclose and detail the litigation in the LOI, we are unlikely to approve an LOI from an organization involved in litigation with another non-profit absent exceptional circumstances. If your organization has recently lost or had a reduction in governmental funding or other support (at either the federal, state, or local level), please voluntarily disclose such event in your LOI and explain the reason for the loss of support. If you are merely a local Louisiana based chapter of a larger national organization, you need to be clear with that affirmative disclosure.
- If you feel the need to supplement your LOI with additional information, please remember the same general procedures should be followed for the supplement (do not email us the supplement). Please do not supplement you LOI through email, any supplement through email will not be considered.