Like many of the subjects of PLANADVISER’s Advisers Giving Back profile series, Domenic DiPiero, founder and president of Newport Capital Group, a registered adviser firm in Red Bank, New Jersey, speaks proudly about his firm’s history of charitable engagement.
“This is something that has been part of my family life for a long time, well before the foundation of Newport,” he says. “It’s been an enriching personal journey for me, forever really. Today, with Newport’s success, I work to make sure this is part of our culture. I want philanthropy to be a big part of our overall mission. We give an outsized portion relative to a firm our size, frankly. It’s a huge part of our culture and one of the central reasons we are all rowing the boat.”
DiPiero says this history of engagement has shown him quite a few things, including that you can’t just will people into being enthusiastic about giving back.
“You really do have to make it a core part of your culture to understand that we are not just working together to make ourselves wealthier,” he says. “You have to make sure your people understand we’re here to make the world a better place, too, and I think that takes a certain kind of person to embrace that vision in the workplace.”
DiPiero has lived in Red Bank his whole life, and the lion’s share of his personal giving and Newport’s giving has been focused in the local region. The firm’s website includes a philanthropy page that details an impressive list of deserving entities that have received support, from the Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation, which advances clinical research and education, to the Friendship Train Foundation, a community foundation. Beyond financial resources, many of these organizations benefit from the board participation of Newport’s leadership and staff members, including Drexel University.
One particularly interesting way DiPiero has found to give back came up about 10 years ago, when he acquired a struggling local Red Bank newspaper, The Two River Times.
“At that time, I wanted to support the paper, but it quickly became apparent that the paper was a great voice for the charitable community,” he explains. “That was the one paper that was covering the fundraising events and the galas that allowed many charities to exist. A big mission of the paper today is to shine a light on the right charities.”
Through the giving Newport has engaged in, the firm and its staff have become experts in evaluating charities, DiPiero says.
“We all live this stuff,” he adds. “We are involved with many local charities in the community, and we’ve also done things like take in kids as interns and then decide to sponsor them for college. We’ve gotten multiple kids into some really great schools and have supported them along the way.”
Thinking about how other advisers can get involved in giving back, DiPiero suggests keeping it local. He has done some national and international giving, but, at the end of the day, he says, the biggest rewards come from changing the immediate world around you in a positive and constructive way.
“I feel strongly, as a New Jersey resident, that I want to make my home a better place,” he says. “You will see that most of the charities we support are between Philadelphia and New York. In this region, and in pretty much any place in the world, you don’t need to look far to find some great organizations that need support.”
DiPiero says the coronavirus pandemic has clearly hurt many deserving causes this year, so charitable organizations need more help than ever.
“Every charity is struggling right now to some degree,” he says. “Hackensack Meridian Health, for example, is on the front lines fighting this pandemic, and it’s an incredible strain on their staff and resources. Others are impacted by the social distancing requirements, like our local Count Basie Center for the Arts. They cannot put on shows right now and it’s a real strain, nor can the Two River Theater in Red Bank.”
DiPiero’s final pieces of wisdom are to go into any giving engagement with eyes wide open and to do your research in advance.
“I do think it is important to be diligent and to get to know the organizations first,” he suggests. “Get to know their finances and whether you can make a meaningful impact.”