The ARC Replica programme allows non-governmental organisations like Start Network to work side-by-side with governments to manage risks.
The ARC Replica programme allows non-governmental organisations like Start Network to work side-by-side with governments to manage risks. © ARC Replica

Due diligence

All organisations admitted as members of Start Network go through a robust due diligence process. We have redesigned this to open up membership to a wider spectrum of organisations.

What is due diligence?

Due diligence is a set of processes of conducting research on an organisation to provide a level of assurance that they are legitimate and that funds passed on to them will not be used inappropriately or cause harm. 

Start Network carries out due diligence on new and existing members to ensure that they have suitable policies, procedures and controls for managing potential risks (such as fraud or safeguarding). 

We carry out this process for new members and repeat it every three years.

A new approach to due diligence

In line with our commitment to become more locally led, Start Network intends to provide more of its funding directly to local and national organisations. We realised that traditional due diligence processes are not fit for purpose for bringing in a greater diversity of members into the network. To address this, we have developed a new, more inclusive due diligence framework that lets us bring in more local organisations as members while still managing our risk.   

This new process evolved through a series of pilots. During our initial pilot in 2019/2020, 14 local and national organisations went through the new tiered framework. Of these, 12 (85%) would have had difficulty meeting the requirements of our previous system and may not have had access to funding.

How it works

Instead of the traditional pass-fail model, our framework enables organisations to pass at different tiers. Members gain access to various levels of Start Network funding and services, depending on their tier placement. We also aim to make the framework  “passportable”, so it is recognised  by other humanitarian organisations.

We assess applicants across nine areas: 

  • governance
  • financial controls/oversight
  • legal compliance
  • ability to deliver/operational efficiency
  • risk management
  • commitment to best practices in humanitarian action
  • data protection and privacy
  • safeguarding
  • downstream partner management. 

They are then placed in one of three tiers, based on the results of the assessment.

Organisations can move between tiers if they implement the recommendations made during the assessment. We provide organisational strengthening grants to help them do this.

Next steps

Although the results so far have been promising, we continue to iterate and improve our due diligence system. Plans include:

  • expanding our capacity by training local due diligence providers in hub and programme countries
  • developing bespoke due diligence modules for specific countries, based on their local contexts and risks
  • creating a digital platform that will act as a global repository. This will reduce duplication of effort by allowing donors and other humanitarian organisations to review organisations against common agreed standards. This will make due diligence “passporting” possible.