About Us

Leading for change in humanitarian aid

Our aim is to deliver effective aid, harnessing the power and knowledge of the network to make faster and better decisions to help people affected by crises. We are developing more effective ways to work together, and new approaches that will reduce the scale of human suffering. 

Winterisation activities in Serbia - © Oxfam/Marija Piroški

Start Evolves

Our vision

We propose a system in which funding will be dependable and predictable, based on humanitarian need. Responses will be defined by the recipients and early funding will reduce the impact of crises and the cost of response. 


After an eight-year journey, the Start Network has achieved so much, although it hasn’t yet achieved the scale needed to catalyse significant change. Our role is to challenge the problems in the sector which we see as systemic. We need to collaborate in building a more equitable, connected and agile humanitarian ecosystem - more diverse, and driven entirely by need. 


Read more about our vision.


We will shape a system that is:


The humanitarian system must increase its diversity and tolerance of alternative approaches. We aim for a ‘humanitarian ecosystem’ that contains organisations of different sizes, types, cultures and modes of response, in a state of continual experimentation and growth.


We aim to shift the centre of humanitarian gravity, so that decision making and leadership take place at the front line and affected people are empowered to improve their lives.


Crises in the future will demand humanitarian response that involves many more people and organisations than today. We will need to do things differently, and work together in new ways.


The opportunity for innovation in the humanitarian sector is huge. We want to see innovation, both radical and incremental, because we want to strengthen the aid system, making it more effective and more efficient.

A new humanitarian economy

We believe that the system of humanitarian aid that has operated for the past 70 years is no longer working as it should. Our aim is to challenge that system and to help to bring about change.


We call what we’re aiming for a “new humanitarian economy” – a system that reduces the power of centralised institutions and bureaucrats and gives more control to communities and individuals on the front line of every crisis.

Read our Visioning Document
Read Start Network's pointers to a new humanitarian economy

Our reach

Strength in numbers


Leading humanitarian organisations




Countries and territories worldwide

The Way We Work

Our organising structure

The governance of Start Network is overseen by the Board of Trustees with key decisions ratified by the Membership. The Board is elected by the Membership and currently consists of six member agency representatives acting in an individual capacity, and four independents. The Membership is represented by the Assembly, which consists of one senior representative – usually the Humanitarian Director or CEO – from each agency as well as their deputy. The Assembly is an important forum for discussion and a sounding-board that ultimately informs the decisions of the Board of Trustees.

Our governance teams and staff

Find out more about how you can work with us