Background: Chairman, New Philanthropy Capital. 25-year career in investment banking, principally at Philips & Drew and UBS; former Chairman and CEO of ING Barings. Current Chairman of Henderson TR Pacific Investment Trust and LCH Clearnet Ltd. Current Chairman of The Hackney Empire and Deputy Chairman of the East London Business Alliance (ELBA).
Growing up in Northeast England, David Robins witnessed people living in "desperate conditions" in Middlesbrough. He has since travelled and worked in Southeast Asia, mostly in developing countries, where he was exposed to more deprivation. Then, in 1995, he joined a Seeing is Believing tour hosted by Business in the Community (BITC), and felt compelled to act: "Working in East London, where poverty was on our doorstep, I thought 'How can we not do something?'"
Inspired by this experience, Robins soon instituted the beginnings of a CSR programme at UBS, which joined ELBA (then known as the East London Partnership), and chose the St. Luke's Hawksmoor church as its flagship project. UBS partnered with the London Symphony Orchestra to refurbish the church, with the aim of creating an educational space where disadvantaged kids could learn about music. Today, St. Luke's is the home of LSO Discovery, the LSO's community and music education programme.
When he moved to ING Barings in 2000, Robins successfully replicated these efforts. He remarked: "People in the City work hard at their jobs, because that is what they believe is expected of them… but when the Chief Executive tells you that it is okay to volunteer your time to charity, many people will come forward."
Robins credits his parents with inspiring his philanthropy: "I come from a very strong socialist background. My parents instilled in me a belief in social values and equality of opportunity". His private charitable giving also reflects personal experiences. Robins, whose mother died of a stroke 10 years ago, does a major walk each year to raise money for Connect, a national charity that helps stroke victims. However, he admits that, overall, his charitable giving is "probably not as effective as it could be;" but, with the help of NPC's research and analysis, he intends to "raise the bar" on his own philanthropy.
Raising the bar By Susan Mackenzie Philanthropy UK Newsletter, March 2005