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The Start Fund explained

15 August 2020
Asia - Bangladesh - Cyclone warning

Caritas Bangladesh have helped villages to set up early warning systems

We answer your questions about the multi-donor pooled fund that provides fast and direct funding to NGOs for ‘under the radar’ crises.

What is the Start Fund?

The Start Fund is a multi-donor pooled fund that provides fast and direct funding to Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) for ‘under the radar’ crises.

The Start Fund complements existing humanitarian financing mechanisms, but is unique in that it is collectively owned and operated by the members of the Start Network on behalf of the wider civil society sector.

What kinds of emergencies can the Start Fund be triggered for?

  • Small scale emergencies that often receive little funding, either because they fall between existing financing mechanisms or because they do not attract sufficient media attention.

  • Chronic humanitarian crises, which have recently been increasing globally, and are overlooked due to media and donor fatigue. 

  • Early response to slow-onset crises to protect at-risk communities. All too often these situations do not receive attention or funding until many lives have already been lost.

  • Fast response to small to medium rapid-onset crises where agencies on the ground need to act quickly. 

How quickly can a Start Fund be activated?

For example, for a fast-onset emergency: once an alert has been activated, funding proposals are drafted and submitted within 24 hours; money is released to the successful Network Member within 72 hours, and work on the ground has to start within seven days.

Who puts the money into the Start Fund?

The Start Fund is collectively owned and managed by Start Network’s members (including CAFOD), and supported by the governments of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Jersey, the European Union, the IKEA Foundation and the Overseas Development Institute.

Thanks to their support the Start Fund allows members to save lives, alleviate the suffering and protect the dignity of millions of people affected by disasters.

How does the Start Fund make sure the money is spent according to need?

The Start Fund has stringent accountability mechanisms in place to help ensure funds are used according to need and spent as intended.

Firstly, when an Alert is raised, following a disaster or spike in a slow-onset crisis, the Start Network holds an Allocation Committee meeting. This Committee, made up of humanitarian experts, will discuss the emergency and assess the needs before deciding whether or not funding should be allocated.

Secondly, if funds are allocated to the emergency, the Committee will reconvene, review and assess project funding proposals and ensure the projects align with the needs on the ground.

Finally, once the projects have finished and the reporting completed, the Start Network will hold a peer learning review. This is an opportunity for organisations involved in the response - including the Start Network member agency and local organisations on the ground - to share their learnings and discuss the results.

Who are members of the Start Network, which administers the Start Fund?

The Start Network is made up of 53 national and international aid agencies from five continents, ranging from high-profile organisations to smaller agencies.

Read more about the Start Network

Why does CAFOD believe that the Start Fund is an important part of funding humanitarian emergencies?

The Start Fund allows local and national NGOs - who are most likely to be first responders when emergencies hit - to access rapid funding which otherwise may not be available to them. This means they can provide life-saving materials, such as blankets and shelter, to families and communities affected by crises.

Decisions to release funding use evidence of need from communities themselves. As a result, the Start Fund gives civil society organisations at local, national and international levels the ability to respond in a timely and effective way, and meet the needs of the most vulnerable people such as children, older people and people with disabilities.

As well as CAFOD, other Caritas agencies are now Start Fund members, including Caritas Bangladesh, Caritas Sri Lanka, Caritas India and Caritas Goma. We hope to support other national Caritas agencies to gain membership in the future so they can access funds directly.


Support our Emergency Response Team

The Emergency Response Team is funded by our loyal regular donors who have chosen to specifically support our emergencies work.

Many humanitarian situations can escalate quickly so having regular donations that we can depend on gives us the flexibility and agility we need to respond and react to emergencies whenever they strike.