Non-governmental organisation collective Start Network and ConsenSys have launched a pilot project to test blockchain technology to enable member NGOs make more efficient and transparent decisions about funding for crisis responses.

The pilot involves Start Fund, the Start Network's unique rapid response mechanism. Under the Start Fund, authority is delegated by donors to NGOs to make decisions on where the funding is spent, with a response time of less than 72 hours. NGO staff collectively engage at the decision-making, planning, implementation and evaluation phase of crisis response. Local actors are also able to access Start Funds and participate in the decision making process. The vision is to connect people affected by crises to a more effective humanitarian response.

The pilot uses the Ethereum platform to provide the necessary infrastructure to support decision-making processes for effective fund management by a distributed group of actors at a global scale. ConsenSys is supporting the project by building the pilot on Boardroom, a decentralised digital governance platform that runs smart contracts on blockchain: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference.

Sean Lowrie, director of the Start Network, said: "This is a hugely important project. The Start Network seeks to shift power dynamics and incentive structures to create a more efficient, accountable, transparent and legitimate humanitarian system. We need locally controlled funding mechanisms that place power in the hands of local people, and which provide governments with the assurance of a coherent and effective crisis response, while connecting those mechanisms into a network will provide all people with a resilient humanitarian system. This technology could potentially support the transformation needed in humanitarian response, to ensure that we can connect people in crisis to the best possible solutions."

Joseph Lubin, founder of ConsenSys said: "The Start Network does outstanding humanitarian work, and ConsenSys is proud to partner with the Start Fund to provide governance in fund allocation and dispersion through the BoardRoom App. This pilot values transparency and democratic principles; making a partnership with the empowering, open & secure Ethereum technology a natural fit."

The long term vision of the project is to support the Start Network's 'grand bargain with the future' which aims to build a new humanitarian economy with decentralised power, distributed ownership, and democratic governance of capital, capacity and control. The project partners, and the Start Network members, believe that Boardroom can be a critical contribution towards fulfilling that ambition.