Human Services Sector Grapples with Social Impact Bonds

This week has been an informative one for burgeoning Pay for Success initiatives. I’ll let my colleague Adrian Bordone get into the details of why, but first an introduction:

For more than 10 years, Adrian has played an important role as advocate and advisor for performance management in the social sector, not the least of which was his involvement in the founding of Social Solutions (sponsors of this blog). Adrian and I have been leading the charge when it comes to helping (and pushing and pulling) agencies to use data and intelligence to demonstrate their effectiveness and continuously improve service delivery since my days at United Way. Thanks Adrian!

I’m delighted to have the opportunity to speak to the Driving Social Impact readership about this promising innovation, Patrick, especially at a time when it is so immediately and directly relevant to discussions about the future of funding for the sector! I think the announcements that are highlighted below are yet another encouraging sign that measurable improvement will drive continued investment in the Sector.  Thankfully – for the human services sector as a whole, and, more importantly, the individuals, families and communities we serve – we will not be going back to anecdote and exception as sufficient evidence of impact.

On Monday, the Rockefeller Foundation in conjunction with Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) announced its national competition for four state and local governments to receive free technical assistance from HKS’ SIB Lab.

Yesterday (1/16), the Hudson Institute hosted a panel discussion with representatives from Goldman Sachs, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, Social Finance US and the Bridgespan Group (Daniel Stid more specifically, whom some of you may remember from Patrick’s response post about the “Social Services Industrial Complex” last year). The panel discussed the potential benefits of Social Impact Bonds, but also raised important concerns about the pitfalls of the approach, for instance the need for confidence in implementation and the challenges of long-term contracts and of traditional evaluation methods. I will be posting a link to the event transcript here when it becomes available; in the interim, the recording of the streaming broadcast can be found here.

And today (1/17), Social Solutions will be hosting a webinar with Roca (one of the recipients of the first Massachusetts Pay for Success contracts), Nonprofit Finance Fund and Third Sector Capital Partners. I’m particularly excited for this webinar because it will focus on the practical logistics of the Pay for Success model: how to determine outcomes and indicators, set achievement targets, structure the contract to facilitate cost-savings, and empower service providers to feel confident in their ability to deliver.

I welcome any questions or comments you may have about Social Impact Bond/Pay for Success-style initiatives at demonstrating.outcomes –at- socialsolutions –dot- com.

Adrian Bordone, Social Solutions

This entry was posted in Pay for Success. Bookmark the permalink.