Letter of Interest
The Foundation does not accept and will not consider unsolicited applications or requests for support. To submit a grant application and have said application considered, your organization must be affirmatively and directly invited by us to do so and provided our password. If you are interested in making sure the Foundation is aware of your organization’s hard work, impact, and programming and want to let us know that you are interested in being considered to potentially apply and to see if we believe your project would be a good fit for our charitable interests and if we have room and time to consider your organization for a program in 2024 or some later year, then this page will discuss the protocols to follow and essential matters to keep in mind when you provide information about your charitable activities to the Foundation.
Any qualified charity 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 2024 may help us formulate programs years in the future.
Our primary interests in 2024 are our Shelter & Food Security Program, our Fundamental Research Program(s), and the various programs within our education department. If you are a qualified Louisiana or Mississippi charity primarily focused on providing services to the homeless or addressing food security and you are interested in being invited to apply for our program in 2024 you should submit an LOI before March 31, 2024.
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 of any kind quickly even if we plan to ultimately invite your organization to submit an application for one of our programs over the next five-year period. If your organization does not have an active and ongoing program with us, you should not contact us in any manner other than in writing consistent herewith.
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 certified mail only to the Brown Foundation office at 320 Metairie Hammond Highway, Suite 500, Metairie, LA 70005. We will 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 and we will not download any materials from flash drives or other data storage devices you may send to us on any unsolicited basis). If you wish to confirm that we received your LOI, you should send the LOI via certified mail.
- 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 inclusive of exhibits, flyers, or other demonstrative materials.
- Your LOI should indicate what dollar amount you would likely apply for if the Foundation were to invite 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. Our preference is to see objective - as opposed to subjective - measurables and have same correlate to the alleviation of human 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 groups who are 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 is likely not the same date 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 campaign/endowment drives that you may be planning or 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 research 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 undertaking basic science. We are always interested in reading 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 contacted by us and 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. If you need confirmation that we received your LOI, you should send the LOI to us via certified mail. We do not publish our timetable on when we may review a properly submitted LOI. You should not contact our staff requesting feedback or meetings, we will contact you if we have questions and we will not grant unsolicited meetings.
- 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 have interest in STEM - not STEAM - initiatives). You are welcome to send us information about your STEAM, arts & culture and religious activities, but should not expect a response.
- We run our own programs and develop our own initiatives and will favor such programs and initiatives over unsolicited projects and we are not soliciting LOI submissions. This means, for example, that 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 few years as we already have specific ongoing programs that are focused on K-12 programming and we are going to favor our own programming and internally developed initiatives over any unsolicited LOI. If you are a K-12 education or related program of some type (like a summer camp) that is looking for support then first look if you fall under one of our specific internally developed programs (that can be 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 unsolicited LOI though you should not expect a response of any kind from us.
- We will not approve an LOI for an advocacy-based program or one engaged in governmental lobbying. For example, we supported certain oncology research initiatives in 2020 and 2021 rather than patient advocacy projects. Similarly, we were interested in providing financial support for certain environmental research initiatives in 2023 with world class organizations we selected for a competitive process (The Water Institute of the Gulf and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies), so we generally would not provide financial support for environmental advocacy programs as we are currently focused on environmental research initiatives.
- There are many reasons a submitted LOI may fail to result in an invitation to apply 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 on core human suffering or STEM 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 governmental grants as we do not seek 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 out of our 2024 Shelter & Food Security Program 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 or food pantry that does not operate a museum of high art.
- Our big initiative in 2019 was fundamental research in oncology, our big initiative in 2020 and 2021 was fundamental research in the related field of healthy aging, and our big initiative in 2022 was focused on neuroscience (with a specific focus in memory). We will have a different primary basic science focus in 2024 that will announce later in the year. If you are an individual principal investigator for a respected world class science based organization and you want us to know about your medical or agricultural 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 programs or current program, 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 2024 or 2025, 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; getting invited to tender a formal grant application is merely authorizing you to tender a formal grant application which will then be reviewed and considered. Applications are generally 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 or anyone affiliated with your organization have some negative history or be involved in a significant controversy, it is better for you to affirmatively 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 or someone involved in the management or leadership of your organization is involved in litigation or some sort of significant controversy 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 or reduction 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 even if you have an address in Louisiana or a Louisiana area code.
- If you feel the need to supplement your LOI with additional information, please remember the same general procedures should be followed for the supplement. Please do not supplement your LOI through email, any supplement through email will not be considered, you should send same to us only through the mail.