Philanthropy in Malaysia will take a more collaborative approach

Malaysia’s foundation and philanthropy sector, at a glance

Number of foundations: n/a
Major network: Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN), 2011 
Malaysian Collective Impact Initiative, 2015
State of the sector: Driven by Islamic values; philanthropic giving is well-established

Education and youth are the most funded areas

Recent philanthropic innovation included the US$282 million Sukuk Ihsan programme, launched by Khazanah (sovereign wealth fund of the Government of Malaysia); the sukuk proceeds go towards educational projects
Biggest opportunity in the sector: The Social Outcome Fund, Social Impact Exchange and Malaysian Collective Impact Initiative have paved the way for more multi-sector partnerships for social impact
Biggest challenge for the sector: A survey shows that in Malaysia, Chinese help Chinese, Malays help Malays, and Indians help Indians – in response to the government’s pro-Malay policies, many foundations serve their own ethnic groups (Shapiro et al. (2018) ‘Pragmatic Philanthropy – Asian Charity Explained’)
Naina Subberwal Batra
Naina Subberwal Batra

21 September 2018

Interview with Naina Subberwal Batra Chairperson and CEO, Asian Venture Philanthropy Alliance (AVPN)


Naina, what are the three broad issues that will drive the Malaysian foundation and philanthropy sector in the next 10 years? 
Religious giving (zakat), the environment, education and youth issues.

Which topics do you expect philanthropy to focus on?
Sustainable and responsible investment (SRI), sukuk (an Islamic financial certificate that complies with Sharia; similar to bonds), green bonds, environment social governance (ESG) integration, and multi-sector collaboration

What is traditional philanthropy and how do you expect this to develop in the future?
Traditional giving in Malaysia is guided by zakat – the Islamic law encourages citizens to contribute 2.5% of their annual incomes to charitable causes. In 2013, zakat equalled over 20% of the level of government social spending, excluding health. Zakat will continue to play an important role in the Malaysian philanthropy landscape. At the same time, SRI, sukuk and green bonds are seeing an increasing uptake.

What role will philanthropy take? 
Philanthropy will take on a more collaborative approach in working with the government, non-profits and corporations to create impact at scale. The Social Outcome Fund and Social Impact Exchange are recent government initiatives to unlock private resources for social good.

Will Malaysian philanthropy be more nationally focused or also regional and global? 
It will continue to be nationally focused.

Is there any other subject which you consider as vital for the sector? 
Malaysia is the first country in Asia to introduce a regulatory framework to facilitate equity crowdfunding in 2015. This has introduced another platform through which social enterprises can raise funds.

If people want to get informed about news and trends in the sector in the Malaysia, where can they find this information? 
They can refer to AVPN, Agensi Inovasi Malaysia (AIM) and Social Impact Exchange (SIX).


Compiled by the EZ-Scout seconded to the Association of German Foundations

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