Start Fund response
Start Fund response in Venezuela © Save the Children

Global Start Fund

Start Fund provides rapid response funding to under-the-radar, small to medium-scale crises, filling a critical gap in the humanitarian aid system.

The global Start Fund is our flagship fund, originally developed in 2014. It lets us respond before others and act where others don’t. And it continues to evolve so that it is more flexible and more accessible for our members.

The Start Fund focuses on three types of humanitarian needs:

  • underfunded small to medium-scale crises
  • forecasts of impending crises
  • spikes in chronic humanitarian crises.

Funding is disbursed within 72 hours after members raise a crisis alert. This makes the Start Fund one of the fastest humanitarian assistance financing mechanisms in the world.


How it works

  • Alerts: Start Fund is based on members raising an “alert”. Any member (or group of members) can identify a crisis that they think is suitable for the Start Fund.
  • Allocation: Information is shared and decisions are made on whether to release funds. If funding is allocated, members are invited to submit proposals within 24 hours.
  • Project selection: projects are selected from these proposals for funding.

This all happens in 72 hours.

Sometimes an anticipation alert is raised in advance of a crisis. This process is slightly different and you can find more details on the Start Fund Anticipation page.

All decisions are made by Start Network members themselves. The Start Fund Allocation Committee makes decisions on funding, and projects are selected by Start Network members and their partners, who are closest to the location of the crisis.

Once these decisions have been made, funds are transferred within 24 hours. Projects start as soon as possible and each project should be completed within 45 days. After the project, there is a learning and evaluation phase, which allows members to share what they have learned with the wider network. There is also a formal reporting process when the agency implementing the project shares information with the Start Fund team through project reports.

There is detailed guidance on the alert cycle process in the Start Fund handbook, which you can download here.


Our donors

The Start Fund is supported by the governments of the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Jersey, and the IKEA Foundation.


Figures about the Start Fund since its inception in April 2014.
Last updated February 2024.

  • 801

    Crisis alerts raised


    Crises responded to

  • Responses in 76 countries
    £134,357,167 Disbursed
  • 26,775,360

    People reached

    68 hours

    Average time between alert and project selected

The Start Fund enables members to take anticipatory action before the impacts of crises take place, preventing or reducing…

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Ballakissa Idriss is the Family Planning (Fp) agent for CARE working in the Disctrict Hospital of Doba, in Southernn Chad. She went to school to become a mid-wive as she has seen women suffering while giving birth at home.

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People showing the support voucher
©2021 Plan International

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