Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Community Development

Using Social Impact Bonds to Spur Innovation, Knowledge Building, and Accountability

Author(s): David Butler, Dan Bloom, and Timothy Rudd, MDRC

April 2013

Community Development Investment Review

In this article, we propose a vision of a social impact bond (SIB) model that moves beyond just achieving cost-savings to spurring innovation, knowledge-building, rigorous evaluation, and, potentially, outcomes that go beyond cost savings. We discuss two of the key rationales for SIBs: securing new resources to expand programs more broadly and ensuring that government only pays for successful programs that save money. Both are important goals but are also limited. We therefore propose a more expansive vision of the SIB model.

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