Start Network


Leading for change in humanitarian aid

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About us

A new era of humanitarian action

Start Network is made up of more than 40 aid agencies across five continents, ranging from large international organisations to national NGOs. Together, our aim is to transform humanitarian action through innovation, fast funding, early action, and localisation.
We're tackling what we believe are the biggest systemic problems that the sector faces - problems including slow and reactive funding, centralised decision-making, and an aversion to change, means that people affected by crises around the world, do not receive the best help fast enough, and needless suffering results.
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We believe that a more balanced international aid system, which shifts power to those closest to the front-line, will generate more effective and appropriate responses for people affected by crises.

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New forms of financing

Our pooled funds enable fast and early action to tackle the kind of crises that are often overlooked by other funding mechanisms. Our risk financing pilots are introducing new ways of working that can save even more lives.

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Collective innovation

New ways of working are needed to tackle the challenges we face. By innovating collectively we can share expertise, insights and perspectives to shape a more effective humanitarian system.

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An international network

Today the Start Network extends to over 40 members and their 7000 partner organisations, employing more than a quarter of a million people across 200 countries and territories.
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Latest news

Latest resources


Support models for local humanitarian innovation

Humanitarian innovation has rapidly gained a central role within humanitarian policy and practice as a way of addressing intractable challenges. An increasing number of humanitarian organisations have established innovation initiatives (including labs, challenge funds and scholarships), set up separate innovation departments and hired innovation staff.



Start Network Annual Report 2018

The Start Network is revolutionising the way that humanitarian aid is being disbursed by fostering localisation, new financing and collective innovation.



Human-centred design and humanitarian innovation

The humanitarian sector is often criticised for being too top-down and for failing to meet the needs and priorities of crisis-affected people. ‘Innovation’ became a rallying cry for new initiatives, organisations and funding promises. Yet, three years on, the sector has been slow to prioritise and support local leadership or to create systems that allow people affected by disaster to have a hand in shaping innovations within their own communities. A recent research paper suggests that only 33% of humanitarian innovators consult with affected populations during their innovation processes. In response to this situation, several organisations have begun advocating for the use of human-centred design (HCD) in humanitarian innovation: bringing meaningful community participation into developing solutions, services or assistance for that community. The Disasters and Emergencies Preparedness Programme (DEPP) Innovation Labs is a diverse network of national and international humanitarian organisations, set up to identify and grow areas of innovation that come directly from communities affected by crises. The labs drew on the HCD tradition, with the aim of developing more responsive and locally-led humanitarian and preparedness programming.



Monthly risk briefing: June

The monthly risk briefing provides information on global weather, human and health events where members may consider using the Start Fund Anticipation process.



The Network

Start Network members