Pooled funds have enabled more timely and flexible funding for responding to sudden humanitarian crises, and have made it possible to operate in otherwise underfunded emergency settings. In the context of the World Humanitarian Summit, the UN Secretary-General (SG) recommended that member states and other donors should double the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to $1 billion, with the Grand Bargain calling for an exploration of whether NGOs could directly access CERF. The SG also called to increase the aid funneled through the Country-based Pooled Funds (CBPFs) to 15 per cent by 2018. Given the current and growing importance of pooled funding, it is important that humanitarian NGOs understand how these mechanisms function and how they can be accessed in order to be part of improving the overall response to humanitarian crises.

NGOs are also managing a growing number of pooled funding mechanisms. The START fund (established and managed by a consortium of NGOs) is providing a quick alternative avenue for NGOs to access timely humanitarian funding. The NEAR Network is exploring options for NGO-run pooled funds at the local level.

In the third session of the learning stream on humanitarian financing, jointly organized by ICVA and PHAP, participants were provided with an overview of the different existing pooled funding mechanisms with a focus on the CBPFs, and pooled funds managed by NGOs. Guest experts also addressed current challenges and opportunities regarding NGO access to pooled funds, followed by an opportunity to questions and answers.


Fernando Hesse Fernando Hesse Head, Policy and Partnerships Unit, Funding Coordination Section (FCS), UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
Ben Garbutt Ben Garbutt Humanitarian Funding Manager, Oxfam
Deepak Sardiwal Deepak Sardiwal Start Fund Officer, Start Network
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury Rezaul Karim Chowdhury Executive Director, Coastal Association for Social Transformation Trust (COAST)


Angharad Laing Angharad Laing Executive Director, PHAP
Melissa Pitotti Melissa Pitotti Head of Policy, ICVA

Briefing paper

ICVA has prepared a briefing paper based on the discussions during the event. You can access the document in EnglishFrench, and Arabic.

For additional resources on this topic, you can go here.

Recordings and follow-up

Session Recording (YouTube - faster loading time)

Closed captions available in English

Sous-titré en français

الترجمات متوفرة باللغة العربية

Session Recording (Adobe Connect - higher quality)

Session Recording (audio podcast)

Introductory whiteboard video

Recommended resources

During the event the following resources and websites were mentioned by speakers and participants:

Geneva Humanitarian Connector

This event was made possible through the Geneva Humanitarian Connector, an initiative of PHAP supported by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

Learning stream on humanitarian financing

As part of the learning stream on humanitarian financing, this event was the third of six live interactive online learning sessions that ICVA and PHAP have organized between September 2016 and March 2017 with the purpose of providing NGOs and humanitarian workers with a stronger understanding of the humanitarian financing system.

Learning objectives

  • Awareness of the different existing pooled funds and familiarity with their raison d'être and history
  • Understanding of how NGOs can access the main pooled financing mechanisms, including the CBPFs, and NGO-led pooled funds
  • Awareness of the main challenges and opportunities for NGOs to access pooled funding
  • Knowledge of the different sources of information on humanitarian pooled funding

Target audience and event access

The stream specifically targets NGO staff, including field, policy and HQ staff, but all live sessions are open to anyone interested in improving their understanding of humanitarian financing.

PHAP Credentialing Program

PHAP Credentialing Program

Understanding the Humanitarian Ecosystem

This event will help you prepare for the PHAP Credentialing Program certification in Understanding the Humanitarian Ecosystem.

In particular, the event will address segment 2.6 of the certification assessment outline. It will also address some aspects of segments 1.5, 1.7, 2.3, 3.1, and 3.2.

Read more about the PHAP Credentialing Program