Within the international aid sector most organisations remunerate their national and international employees on different scales. The differences between the pay and benefits scales within this so-called dual salary system are often extreme, reflecting challenges of attracting skilled international workers to difficult contexts, whilst remunerating national employees appropriately within their local economy.

Project FAIR

Project FAIR builds upon a strong body of research into the psychological impact of these disparate salaries in the sector, in particular their impact on some employees’ motivation, performance, and retention, and thereby aid activities. We aim to create a collaborative space for discussion of practical, evidence-based alternatives to the dual salary system that enable aid and development organisations to maximise their contributions to decent work, sustainable livelihood, and poverty eradication.

Project FAIR

This project was supported by the ESRC Impact Accelerator Account awarded to the University of Edinburgh (ES/M500380/1). It began in 2015 as a collaboration between researchers at the University of Edinburgh Business School, Massey University, CHS Alliance, and Birches Group. It has since evolved into an active collaboration between a network of over 80 international NGOs with an interest in fair reward. If you are interested in becoming part of the network please contact us.

  • Massey University
  • CHS Alliance
  • Birches Group
  • ESRC

Principles and Standards of Fair INGO Reward

In collaboration with 25 international NGOs we have co-produced a series of Principles and Standards of Fair INGO reward. These principles and standards can be used by any interested organisation.

Principles and Standards

Online toolkit and self-assessment quiz

Based on the findings of Project FAIR we have developed an online toolkit to assist organisations through the strategic considerations behind reviewing their reward system.

Toolkit and self assessment

INGO Reward Forum

Extensive collaboration through Project FAIR has resulted in the establishment of the INGO Reward Forum, which has an active email list for members and meets regularly throughout the year to discuss issues related to international NGO reward. This is a closed group; for more information on how to join, please contact us.


In response to the growing movement around racial injustice, and recognising that reward is only one way in which inequality manifests in international NGOs, we have established the INGO DEI forum. This forum meets monthly for seminars and discussions related to improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in international NGOs. For more information on how to join, please contact us.

Collaboration with DisasterReady

Based on Project FAIR research, a free online module on fair reward in international NGOs is now available on the DisasterReady site, alongside many other free online learning resources for humanitarian and development professionals. The module is also available in Arabic, French, and Spanish.

Access the course (English)

If you would like to find out more about Project Fair then please get in touch with Dr Ishbel McWha-Hermann.

Contact Us

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