2020, A New World

of Silver Linings and Embracing Change

About Us

As a convenor, collaborator, and catalyst for change, Hasanah focuses on the country’s pressing community and social issues, bringing together policymakers, civil society organisations, corporations, and local communities to enable collective impact for the people and environment.

We strive to create real and lasting positive social and environmental changes for Malaysia through our work in the following impact areas: Education; Community Development; Environment; Arts & Public Spaces; and Knowledge.

Message from


YBhg. Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof

Managing Director's


Shahira Ahmed Bazari

Our Strategic Levers of Impact


Scaling up and deepening reach, engagements and programmes across all impact areas.


Develop new, innovative and improved approaches (content) and sustainable solutions to pressing social and environmental issues.


Advocate and shape policies to achieve structural changes and systems reform in our impact areas.

In achieving long-term social impact, three key strategic drivers have been identified that are measurable and able to improve the quality of life of individuals, communities and society as a whole.  Hasanah terms the three strategic levers of impact as Increase, Innovate and Influence.

Increasingly, we have seen Hasanah’s programmes driving scale, investing in new and improved methodologies and involved in advocacy and influencing of policies and structures for the long-term.


This was, indeed, a year like no other. The impact numbers reported below reflect its many challenges and changes, alongside the progress that was made together with our partners despite of—and in response to—the intricacies of the times.  








COVID-19 response continued well into 2021
Pandemic-related humanitarian and relief efforts have carried on well throughout 2021 as the nation continues to combat COVID-19. Funds allocated in 2021 include RM150 million for CERDIK (further funding is likely to support in achieving the 150,000-beneficiaries target) RM25 million for Hasanah Special Grant-2 and RM100 million for PEMERKASA.

To-date, the number of individuals Hasanah impacted has grown five times since 2015.






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Hasanah Grant

Hasanah Special Grant 2020




Cruyff Court






Ilmu Hasanah

Capacity Building




Capacity Building Initiatives

2015 - 2020





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Hasanah Grant

2015 - To Date







Hasanah Grant

Hasanah Special Grant 2020

COVID-19 Response

Impact Areas


2020 Happenings

Looking Ahead

Financial Highlights

YBhg. Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof


2020 was by no means an ordinary year. And, therefore, called for some extraordinary solutions.

For good reasons, ‘pivot’ and ‘resilience’ were commonly used expressions and it is no coincidence that these are the very qualities displayed by our partners who, despite having almost entirely revamped their plans, adapted and performed remarkably well.

Pivoting led to successful online adaptations of a plethora of programmes, including Ilmu Hasanah and our various education and community development solutions. That said, given the nature of our work, that intrinsic human touch cannot possibly be done away with altogether, and we are all eager to delve back into some form of normalcy once it is safe to do so.

Then there is resilience. Building resilience is familiar to us, having advocated it for the last half a decade through our Community-Based Approach initiatives. Juggling between pre-determined and ad-hoc pandemic-related projects were truly a sign of the times, but we took it all in stride.

Our mandate as an impact-driven grant-making foundation has always been our beacon, and fulfilling it efficiently and effectively, our mission. Ultimately, all efforts boil down to impact which can be measured in a few ways. One, through numbers and secondly, via the experiences and accounts of our partners and beneficiaries. You will find all these—and more—in the sections that follow.

All in all, 2020 presented many challenges but our relationships with civil society, governmental bodies and corporate Malaysia meant navigating unchartered territories together. Our response to the rise of infections in Sabah, the on-going CERDIK initiative and the coordination of The Government-Linked Companies and Government-Linked Investment Companies Disaster Response Network (GDRN) are testaments to relationships built on a strong foundation of common goals, which we take great pride in. I am grateful for all the support Yayasan Hasanah has received in the past five years and hope this continues in the years to come.

Now, it is said that ‘necessity is the mother invention’. I believe, above all else, 2020 has taught us that when push comes to shove, we innovate, we adapt, and we find a way — or better still, we pave one.

Shahira Ahmed Bazari

Managing Director & Trustee

Charles Darwin famously said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” I think, this has in many ways, rung true in 2020 where embracing change and adapting seemed the only way forward.

If someone had ever asked me where I see the foundation five years from its inception, operating amidst a worldwide pandemic would not have crossed my mind.

For all its challenges, 2020 turned out to be an extraordinary year for Hasanah in so many ways. As Hasanah turned five and the world grappled with COVID-19, the need for immediate relief quickly became obvious. We had to step up in multi-folds to respond to the national crisis resulting from the pandemic. As a result, Hasanah saw a 5 times growth in the total number of partners and projects we awarded to; resulting in a significant increase to the total number of people in need that was assisted.

The unique intricacies of the times also affected our organisation internally. Programme KPIs were adjusted in consultation with our partners, and for the first time, Hasanah provided unrestricted COVID-19 funding to all our 39 partners to help them cope with the uncertainties. Our team started to work from home most of 2020 and now, well into 2021. This required a shift in our organisational culture and a new way of working to be established. Most of our capacity development programmes also shifted online.

The pandemic has certainly brought corporate philanthropy to the forefront. One of the things I have learned and witnessed in the last 18 months is the power of collaboration and networks. And for collaboration to happen in its truest sense, we need to move away from the insistent focus of “egos and logos” and shift to a shared mission and purpose for the greater good.

One of the positive outcomes of this pandemic is the acceleration of collaboration and the building of social capital and trust amongst like-minded stakeholders and partners. 2020 proved that together, we are all indeed stronger and more impactful. The collaboration and support of various stakeholders, all bound by a common purpose and mission, created heartfelt impacts to many lives in need in 2020.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Board of Trustees for their unwavering support and guidance that was given continuously during these challenging times. Similarly, I would also like to thank all our partners, peers and stakeholders for the extraordinary impacts rendered during a time of need. Finally, a note of thanks to my amazing team who despite the difficult times, stepped up like a true Hasanah Hero to do whatever needed to get done. We learnt of silver linings amid setbacks and we all did our best to embrace change and uncertainties with dedication, strength and resilience.

I hope you will find The Hasanah Report 2020 a useful and enjoyable read.

Stay safe and stay well.

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KNK Total Assesment

Completed field testing of indicators

Developed communications plan

With the pilot rollout of the Alternate Assessment for Children with Learning Difficulties, (PASM – Pentaksiran Alternat Sekolah Menengah) expected in a dozen secondary schools nationwide in 2021, this year has been all about conceptualisation, design and realisation of instruments for that purpose. The partner is creating a tool to measure students’ abilities within their disabilities, an objective that traditional pen and paper examinations cannot satisfy.

Chumbaka Sdn Bhd

secondary schools

Selected schools in Perlis were first introduced to embedded systems, coding, electronics, mobile apps, AI and various soft skills, after which students showcased their newly gained knowledge in innovation competitions with the ultimate goal of applying technology platforms to identify and solve real life problems in their community.

Nourishing the Body and Mind

Economic devastation is possibly one of the most severe impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, second only to medical-related ones. And for the beneficiaries of Pertubuhan Kesihatan dan Kebajikan Umum Malaysia (PKKUM) comprising of urban poor, jobless, B40, single mothers, senior citizens, the differently-abled and other marginalised  communities around Chow Kit, this is a very real problem. So much so that for some, putting food on the table daily was a huge challenge.  

In response to this, PKKUM Pusat Bantuan Khidmat Sosial (PBKS) commenced its Food for All street feeding project during the very first MCO. On top of providing daily meals, its second objective was to assist those from B40 communities and whose earnings had been affected by COVID-19.  

In July, PKKUM received the Hasanah Special Grant enabling it to provide 330 packs of food—guaranteed nutritious and comes with clean drinking water— for 110 beneficiaries on a daily basis. 

Food for All meal distribution in session

We heard and understood the day-to-day struggles of our beneficiaries when they came reaching out to us. The Food for All project plays a vital role in providing sustenance to the less fortunate, serving as a lifeline for communities in need that would otherwise starve, explains PKKUM programme manager Myra Hashim on what led to the birth of this initiative. 

With HSG assistance also, the organisation was able to expand the types of capacity building classes it offered, which at that time, covered topics such as how to conduct an online business, business registration, marketing and accounting. The organisation’s PBKS Project 2020 saw 20 beneficiaries benefit from monthly workshops and classes on basic business knowledge and management. The aim was to expose them to and equip them with skills suited for new job opportunities. 

Beneficiaries waiting in line at PKKUM PBKS's daily food distribution programme

From an operations perspective, social distancing requirements have had a tremendous effect on the people-centric organisation that PKKUM is, limiting face-to-face interactions with its beneficiaries. But in time, everyday tasks were customised to comply with standard operating procedures and above all, keep everyone safe during a time when adapting is the only way forward. 

One of our key learnings from 2020 was (discovering) the true social and financial impacts of the pandemic on the urban poor, jobless, B40 and other marginalised communities around Chow Kit.

Empowering Communities and Boosting Livelihoods

A huge part of the Global Environment Centres (GEC) conservation efforts in the Upper Kinta River Basin (UKB) involves interacting with nearby communities and during the pandemic, they noticed an urgent need for alternative livelihood options. This led to an initiative to empower targeted Orang Asal and peri-urban communities living near the 25,000 hectare UKBa crucial part of the Central Forest Spine and the primary watershed providing potable water to Ipoh. 

Movement Control Orders posed a challenge to those who would typically venture out to sell their products while others employed by nearby quarries and development projects were adversely impacted when work was put on hold. Assistance from HSG was put to good use in response to this situation. 

On key takeaways for the year, the GEC cites face-to-face meeting restrictions and lengthy feedback time of government agencies as hurdles that delayed implementation during already uncertain times. 

“However, we quickly adapted to the situation and continued capacity building by conducting all meetings virtually, communicating via WhatsApp and mobilising local leaders to action. As many Orang Asal lack phone and internet access, an officer from the Department of Orang Asal Development facilitated communications during the early MCO phase,” 
senior p
rogramme officer Sathis Venkitasamy explains. 

Having overcome all that, the results speak for themselves. 35 families or 139 people in Kampung Makmur recorded increased income from the programme, an indication of GEC’s step in the right direction. 

GEC felt that these identified communities would need additional support to empower it with new skills and enhance their livelihoods that were badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. (We find that) the nature of HSG’s post-COVID strategy to support and empower communities is in line with local needs.

For the Love of the Malayan Sun Bear

When pandemic-driven movement restrictions orders were enforced, the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) was faced with a predicament. Its main source of income—ticketing sales—was lost. 

Dr Wong Siew Te, the founder and Chief Executive Officer, explains that said revenue would normally go to cover husbandry cost for 43 rescued ex-captive sun bears that call it home, including an average of RM26,000 per month for their food. 

The smallest of its kind and only found in Southeast Asia, the Malayan sun bears are unfortunately threatened by forest degradation, illegal hunting for body parts and poaching of their young for pet trade.  

Owing to HSG, the rescue and rehabilitation centre in Sepilok, Sandakan was able to feed 40 bears and three cubs, without further depleting financial reserves that had been dipped into during challenging times. 

Not only has the aid been helpful but also echoed the spirit of conservation as Dr Wong explains. Besides, conservation is not the sole responsibility of the organisation,” he begins by saying. Collaborations with the government and private agencies are essential to financial sustainability and growth of conservation efforts.”  

Indeed, as we share this world with other living beings, we are all custodians in some regard, with organisations such as BSBCC leading the way. In 2008, the wildlife biologist, tropical forest ecologist and sun bear expert, who has been fascinated with animals all his life, founded BSBCC. Six years later, the large forest enclosures that provide a natural environment, facilitating their rehabilitation into the wild, opened its doors to visitors.  

Though at the moment, BSBCC’s on-site visits may be temporarily replaced by virtual tours, the spirit and objectives of the centre—the only sun bear conservation facility in the world—is resounding as ever, as they tackle old problems threatening the lives of the species in new, no less challenging times. 

Conservation is a continuous effort regardless of the global situation. BSBCC has learned that it has to be dynamic in generating other forms of revenue to cope with unprecedented financial constraint.

A Crisis, Change and New Frontiers

One afternoon, Ayu (not her real name) and her three children walked two hours in the scorching heat to the nearest police station. With only RM20 in her pocket, the beatings she endured the night before in the hands of her husband was the final straw. Searching online led her to being referred to the Womens Centre for Change (WCC) and a social worker stayed in touch with her via phone right up to her lodging a police report, undergoing medical check-up and approved for interstate travel so that she and her children no longer had to be at the mercy of an abusive husband and father. 

Unfortunately, this isnt an isolated incident. 

Between March and May 2020, the WCC saw a near doubling of child sexual abuse (CSA) cases. Instances of domestic violence (DV) recorded an alarming increase too, making up 80 out of the 238 new cases handled. 

The World Health Organisation attributed an increased likelihood of physical, psychological and sexual abuse at home (particularly children already living in violent or dysfunctional family situations) to ‘movement restrictions, loss of income, isolation, overcrowding and high levels of stress and anxiety’. 

While dealing with escalating instances of CSA and DV, social distancing meant cancelling WCC’s major 35th anniversary fundraiser and budget reviews alongside a steep learning curve of operating remotely, all at once. As an organisation dependent on public donations to sustain work, it was badly affected monetarily and HSG assistance couldnt have come at a better time. 

According to WCC Executive Director Loh Cheng Kooi, the funding was well-utilised for a wide range of efforts, namely providing critical counselling for women and children, launching two online storybooks (Lisa and her Secret and Yusri and his Secret) aimed at children and teachers, ten awareness-driven webinars and 40 e-posters in BM, English, Chinese and Tamil as well as capacitating staff in handling and advocating cases in line with the new norm that included working from home with extended hotline hours.    

That said, the organisation has reinvented itself and emerged stronger. “In every crisis, lies an opportunity. HSG enabled us to transform our physical work seamlessly into the virtual world; and the results were resounding, way beyond our expectations,” says Loh summing up the key takeaway from 2020. 

Our work is no longer limited to Northern states. Via social media platforms, WCC reached nearly one million people of various ethnicities nationwide from June to December 2020 alone. We also noted the complementary role of vernacular webinars— for example, we receive more calls from Tamil-speaking women after a Tamil session.

A Time for Learning and Relearning

For 32 years, Kiwanis Down Syndrome Foundation National Centre (KDSF-NC) has provided its Early Intervention Programme for children with Down syndrome, from the age of two months to six years. It involves therapy, exercises and activities designed to address developmental delays. Students pay a heavily subsidised, minimal-fee and further deductions are available for those from low-income families. 

When COVID-19 hit, the centre had to close and its 34 students could no longer benefit from the sessions. Teachers and therapists had to upskill almost as quickly as decisions were being made. Hence, the KDSF Re-adapted Early Intervention Programme was born.

Concerning funding, public donations dwindled tremendously and all fundraising events came to a halt as mostsuch as the Annual Charity Funfairinvolved large crowd attendance. Seeing that it depended solely on public donations to sustain operations and programmes, Heng says that HSG helped maintain the full teaching team, upgrade internet infrastructure and technology equipment. 

As a non-profit, we have always been prudent in our spending and preferred traditional teaching materials over investing in technology,” 

KDSFNC Executive Director Angie Heng explains, citing realising the importance of the latter as one of the organisations key learnings for 2020. Luckily, some of the teachers utilised their personal laptops, reducing the cost of procuring more devices. 

Some other challenges were parents struggling to guide children through classes, giving up easily or lacking computer savviness. Teaching tools had to be improvised to suit what parents could find at home and therapists shouldered an additional role of guiding parents during activities. 

“Some parents are receptive to this new way of education but do not have enough gadgets to utilise among their school-going children. It would usually be our students that have to give way to (for example) their older siblings who attend typical schools or require it for exams,” Heng observes. 

Besides insufficient gadgets and poor internet connection, having parents watch over their shoulders throughout lessons and being unable to access teaching resources at the centre during restricted movement orders were but some of the hurdles. This experience brought to light the need to pay attention to the mental health of the facilitators. 

On the bright side, having to convert to e-learning revealed the possibility of reaching students outside urban areas, rendering it a year of learning and re-learning for the organisation and its students alike. 

With assistance from HSG, we were able to waive fees for students whose parents had taken pay cuts or were out of jobs—students who otherwise would not be able to continue their education (with us)