Generosity: A Financial Advisor’s Perspective

Bart Rolen headshot“We don’t look at charitable donations as a gift. They’re an investment,” according to Bart Rolen, CEO of Southeastern Trust Company, a boutique trust and investment firm headquartered in Chattanooga. We sat down with Mr. Rolen to discuss his experience with The Generosity Trust and his giving philosophy.

Bart and his wife, Kate Rolen decided they wanted to be more strategic and impactful in their giving. Their goal was to invest in fewer organizations and make a greater impact. This meant narrowing their focus to a handful of Christ-centered ministries with a proven track record of successfully advancing God’s Kingdom. “God has given us resources to steward on His behalf, and we want to make sure that we’re doing that effectively and the funds that we’re responsible for, which are ultimately God’s, are allocated to ministries that are really efficient in their operating model and that have positive results.”

Mr. Rolen’s new mission in giving led him to open a Donor Advised Fund at The Generosity Trust. “The donor-advised fund allows us to send a check every two weeks to The Generosity Trust, where it accumulates until we decide how much we want to give to which ministry.”

Mr. Rolen sees giving as not only an investment but a biblical mandate that we ought to joyfully follow. “What we have is not ours,” he says. “The hard question is not how much do I give away, but how much do I keep? The more money you give away, the more freeing it is. You’re not putting your hope and faith in financial security and you’re not making an idol out of your money. In turn, supporting ministries that are trying to reach people for the gospel becomes this really joyful thing.”

As a financial advisor, Bart is well-acquainted with the fact that donor-advised funds are often frowned upon by financial advisors. When a client opens a donor-advised fund, wealth managers fear they are at risk of losing assets under management. However, as Mr. Rolen says “The Generosity Trust’s approach is very different and very unique in that if a client wants to create a fund that is large enough to be invested, they can bring their investment manager or financial advisor to the table. Their financial advisor can continue to manage those assets even though they’ve been given to a donor-advised fund. The financial advisor doesn’t lose those assets.”

The Generosity Trust shares Mr. Rolen’s vision of joyful and impactful Christian giving. We are honored to work with donors to help them streamline their charitable giving. Visit us here if you are interested in opening a donor-advised fund of your own. Please let us know if we can assist you in any way.

Bart is a graduate of The University of Georgia (BBA) and The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (MBA). He is a member of First Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga (PCA) where he serves as a Ruling Elder. Mr. Rolen currently serves on The Generosity Trust’s board.

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