April 20, 2015
BurmestersRaymond and Jessica Burmester are donor advisors at the Community Foundation. We asked the Burmesters to share their story about why they opened a fund here.

What are your philanthropic goals and interests?

We have a son with a profound intellectual disability. When our son was 10 we became involved in a local not-for-profit service provider. We quickly became familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of such organizations. In 1995 we established three small trust funds to provide financial support to three not-for-profit service provider/advocacy organizations to assist them in staff professional development. Our first-hand knowledge of the financial status of several not-for-profit human service organizations was a key factor in determining our philanthropic goals and interests.

How did you find out about the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia?

Our discovery of community foundations took a circuitous route. I grew up on a poultry farm in the Northern Neck and attended a small rural high school. I was determined to get a college education. Upon graduation I was awarded a State Scholarship based on financial need which paid for half my first year's room, board, and tuition. I vowed I would create a scholarship program of my own when I could afford to do so which is what led us to community foundations. In 1996, upon the advice of a relative, we established an academic achievement scholarship endowment with The Community Foundation in Richmond, the community foundation that serves Northumberland County where my high school is located.

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

Having established an endowment with The Community Foundation, we became aware of the tremendous benefit of giving appreciated assets to an organization whose primary purpose is to pool assets, keep administrative costs to a minimum, and support our philanthropic endeavors. The next logical step was to create an endowment to provide financial support to our local not-for-profit human service providers which we did in 1997 with the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia. We funded our community foundation endowments incrementally with appreciated assets in real estate and mutual funds and have taken advantage of the generous income tax advantages in the process. We feel very comfortable "parking" a significant amount of our assets with an organization whose primary purpose is to ensure that our philanthropic goals will continue to be met even after our deaths.

Why donate in the community where you live?

We have spent the past 25 years advocating for additional state funding for services for individuals with developmental disabilities. There is a far greater demand for financial support than there are funds available. All community foundations and the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia in particular do an outstanding job of focusing the philanthropic goals of the community onto the overwhelming need for financial support.