Community Development Innovation Review

April 2013

Social Impact Bonds: Using Impact Investment to Expand Effective Social Programs


To address the wide-ranging challenges facing the United States, collaboration among philanthropy, government, and the investment community is vital. Social impact bonds (SIBs) offer a new way to advance cross-sector partnerships and introduce innovative financing solutions to scale proven preventative social programs. SIBs operate at the intersection of three important trends: greater funder interest in evidence-based practices in social service delivery; government interest in performance-based contracting; and impact investor appetite for investment opportunities with both financial returns and social impact. This article focuses on how impact investors in SIBs can help drive improved performance in the U.S. social sector while providing growth capital to effective nonprofit or social enterprise social service providers. The true power of SIBs lies in the discipline that investors can bring to the process of provider selection and delivery of social services. When government, investor, and provider expectations are aligned, SIBs have the potential to bring significant new capital and efficiencies to social service delivery.

Download the article (pdf, 144.64 kb)

Other articles in this issue

Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Banks as Pioneer Investors in Pay for Success Financing

The Real Revolution of Pay for Success: Ending 40 Years of Stagnant Results for Communities

Pay for Success is Not a Panacea

The Promise of Pay for Success

Social Impact Bonds: Lessons Learned So Far

Pay for Success: Understanding the Risk Trade-offs

The Ethics of Pay for Success

Learning from the Low Income Housing Tax Credit: Building a New Social Investment Model

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

Innovation Needs Foundation Support: The Case of Social Impact Bonds

Pay for Success: Opportunities and Risks for Nonprofits

Success Begins with a Feasibility Study

Government’s Role in Pay for Success

Rikers Island: The First Social Impact Bond in the United States

Human Capital Performance Bonds

Pay for Success: Building On 25 Years of Experience with the Low Income Housing Tax Credit

Can Pay for Success Reduce Asthma Emergencies and Reset a Broken Health Care System?

Supporting At-Risk Youth: A Provider’s Perspective on Pay for Success

Tax Increment Finance: A Success-Driven Tool for Catalyzing Economic Development and Social Transformation

Bringing Success to Scale: Pay for Success and Housing Homeless Individuals in Massachusetts

Making Performance-Based Contracting Work for Kids and Families