Community Development Innovation Review

April 2013

Success Begins with a Feasibility Study


Pay for Success (PFS), a form of social impact financing, is receiving international attention as a way to pay for scaling up high-return interventions, ranging from prisoner rehabilitation to infant health. It is attractive because risk of failure is shifted from taxpayers to the private sector; if programs don’t work, government doesn’t pay. Government pays for success by rebating a large portion of the savings from programs that work to private investors in those programs. If there are no savings, that is if interventions do not reduce government costs, there is nothing to rebate to investors. In this article, I review contracting and time-to-completion considerations with particular attention to feasibility studies, the critical first stage of establishing a social impact finance program.

Download the article (pdf, 197.03 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

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

Innovation Needs Foundation Support: The Case of Social Impact Bonds

Pay for Success: Opportunities and Risks for Nonprofits

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