April 3, 2019
Joel BrownJoel Brown, is a donor advisor for the XMS Fund, which supports youth, education, health and community improvement. We asked him to share some thoughts on how this fund helps the Northern Virginia region.

Why did you partner with the Community Foundation on your philanthropy?

Merrill Lynch recommended the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia to me almost 20 years ago. They spoke very highly of the work the Foundation did for the community and some of the great organizations they helped support. I learned very quickly that there are a lot of very good causes that need support and Community Foundation is very helpful at researching and recommending where donations are needed.

You have a donor advised fund at the Community Foundation. Can you tell us about that fund - why you established it, and how you use it to support the community?

The XMS Fund was created after I left Microsoft. When I was 18 and first moved into my own place it was difficult. There was even a short time where I relied on subsidized rent to make ends meet. I could have moved back home with my parents but I wanted to make it on my own. Even now, many years later, you don’t forget those days and how just a little help makes a big difference.

As a donor advisor can you share a little about the beginning of how you got involved with your cause?

Several years ago, I did a site visit to the Red Cross when I helped them with a donation. It was very informative to see how much work goes on behind the scenes. Even though it was interesting, and they were very thankful, to me knowing they got the help they needed for an important cause is all that counts.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

The past several years I've started focusing more on helping animal causes. I did some volunteer work for AForeverHome and saw how much work they do with a very small budget. I’ve always adopted pets from rescue organizations or county shelters. To see and hear the stories some of these pets have been through is horrifying. It seems most of your local rescues don’t even have the means to find donors. They hold raffles among their own foster parents and volunteers to raise money. The adoption fees barely cover the expense of fostering a dog or cat. If any of them need medical care then sometimes they just don’t have the funds or rely on local vets to donate their time. I try to be there when a rescue organization needs a little more help than usual for a special situation.

Over the years you learn quickly that you can’t save the world. But if you can find something that is very meaningful to you, that is a great cause, then it can be very rewarding to do something that makes even a small difference.