New forms of financing

Funding is so important, not just how much, but also when, where, how and why.

We believe that by providing funding fast, early, in a collaborative way – and by providing it based on need and not on media headlines or political will - we can help responders and communities to become better prepared to act in a crisis. In short, fast funds in the right place at the right time, saves lives.

There is increasing momentum to move beyond the ‘begging bowl’ model of humanitarian funding that simply reacts to crises after they happen.

Initiatives such as the InsuResilience global agenda, the DFID Global Centre for Disaster Protection and the World Humanitarian Summit Grand Bargain have highlighted the need for a more anticipatory, pre-organised system of humanitarian financing.

By being financially prepared in advance of crises, we can ensure that the right money gets there at the right time. This is more efficient and effective; it can prevent unnecessary loss and save more lives.


Our new funding mechanisms  get money to where it’s needed when it’s needed

We enable fast and early action through our pooled funds to tackle the kind of crises that are often overlooked by other funding mechanisms, while our risk financing pilots are introducing humanitarians to a new way of working.


Any Start Network member (often with their local partners) can alert the Start Network funds to a crisis anywhere in the world, irrespective of how high it is on political or media agendas.  Organisations work together to highlight the needs of people on the round and to decide on how to help.  Only by responders working together and with communities will we be able to assist greater numbers of those in need and in time-saving ways.


Risk financing aims to ensure predictable and early funding to reducing the impact of disasters even before they hit. Such planning saves more lives. Our approach to disaster risk financing brings together the prediction of risks through scientific models, collaborative contingency planning to identify activities to be delivered ahead of time, and pre-positioned financing through a broad set of financial instruments (including contingency funds, parametric insurance, or other tools).


In 2017:

- We disbursed £9,999,293 from the global Start Fund, reaching almost 2.5 million people, across 34 countries.

- The Start Fund’s Anticipation Window saw seven anticipatory alerts, three of which were funded.

- The Start Network became the official Replica Partner for the African Risk Capacity (ARC) in Senegal

- Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) announced it would join Start Network’s partnership to test our Drought Financing Facility

- The Migration Emergency Response Fund (MERF) was launched in January 2017. 

In 2018 and beyond we are developing a financial architecture that connects these initiatives together, offering fast and efficient channelling of pre-positioned funds at scale to frontline actors in any crisis in the world. 

Some examples of our programmes

New financing in action


Migration Emergency Response Fund alert fact sheet - 2018

This useful guide has everything Start Network members need to know when raising an alert for the new phase of the Migration Emergency Response Fund (MERF). The new phase of the MERF is focused entirely on Africa and members of the Start Network can now respond to acute needs along the migration route. The fund is filling critical gaps in migration response within the continent, with funding on its way to members as quickly as 72 hours of an alert first being raised.



Increasing resilience to natural disasters with cash-based interventions

This report from Catholic Relief Services funded through the Start Fund learning grant, identifies best practices and highlights the lessons learnt following the completion of projects within Alert 195 Vietnam (Typhoon Damrey). 



Lessons from a 45-day intervention in eastern DRC

This 'value for money' report from Solidarites International identifies several lessons learnt from the completion of ‘Alert 194 DRC (Cholera)’ and highlights the fundamental value about the impact of the Start Fund for the response.



Start Fund Annual Report 2018

Now moving into its fifth year of operation, the Start Fund is the fastest collectively-owned funding mechanism in the world. It is a leading enabler of rapid, needs-driven humanitarian response for overlooked crises. Filling a critical gap in humanitarian financing, it pools funding from donors for immediate release for crises around the world. In its fourth year alone the Start Fund spent over £8.8 million responding to the unmet needs of 2,050,546 people across 44 crises in 31 countries. Find out more about the work of the Start Fund, including our performance, how we are meeting our commitments to the Grand Bargain, our Anticipation Window, and why we hold localisation at the heart of our work.



Start Fund: Learning from Partnerships

The Start Fund is a multi-donor pooled rapid response fund that initiates disbursement of humanitarian finance within 72 hours. It is collectively owned and managed by the Start Network members, a group of 42 national and international aid agencies from five continents. The fund was officially launched on 1st April 2014 and has an annual disbursement of approximately £11 million (GBP). It is designed to fill gaps in the humanitarian funding architecture in three main areas: underfunded small to medium scale crises; forecasts of impending crises; and spikes in chronic humanitarian crises. This product is produced for the Start Fund, part of the Start Network. Evidence and learning for the Start Fund is provided by World Vision UK. 



Case Study: Anticipation of flooding and landslides in Tajikistan

The Start Fund anticipation window seeks to mitigate harm and loss for communities at risk of crisis. It does so by enabling and incentivising Start Network members to monitor risk and act on the basis of forecasts. Through the Start Fund anticipation window, Non-Governmental Organisations can respond to shifts in risk, such as a forecast of extreme rainfall or likely political crisis. A key element of this approach requires collective sense-making, or collaborative risk analysis, around the situation forecasted and its potential humanitarian impact.



How to assess the impact of a Drought Risk Financing facility: A guide

This guide outlines some of the conceptual questions, and practical tools, that can be used to evaluate drought risk financing (DRF) initiatives. It offers a framework for thinking about the impact of drought risk financing, along with risk financing more broadly and the wider general issue of the added value of earlier humanitarian response.



Drought Financing Facility summary

The purpose of this report is to give an overview of the way the Drought Financing Facility is designed, including two proposed pilots in Zimbabwe and Pakistan.


News, blog and opinion

News Article

Start Network signs ‘game-changing’ drought insurance policy for early humanitarian response in Senegal

The Start Network has signed a ‘game-changing’ insurance policy, intended to pay out if a drought hits Senegal, enabling aid agencies to offer live-saving help before a famine threatens to take people’s lives.


News Article

Islamic Relief helps survivors of Bangladesh floods

Islamic relief has been working in consortium with Start Network Members Save the Children and Concern Worldwide, to implement a rapid response to floods which hit Bangladesh in early June.


Blog Post

Global Fund 250th crisis alert: Ebola outbreak in the DRC

A fresh outbreak of Ebola in the North Kivu province of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has become the focus of the 250th alert by the Start Fund.


Blog Post

Start Fund responds rapidly to Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo amid fears of a wider epidemic

An outbreak of Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has spread into the major north-western city of Mbandaka, only 50km from the border with Republic of the Congo, raising fears of a wider epidemic. 


Find out more about how you can work with us