Community Development Investment Review Highlights New Social Impact Bonds – “Pay for Success”

Social Impact Bonds (Pay for Success) offer an attractive alternative to the status quo of paying for programs instead of results. Despite our best efforts, the poverty rate today is roughly what it was when the War on Poverty began in 1964. We are winning important battles but losing the war. A new social policy paradigm is needed. Pay for Success financing has the potential to improve the social sector’s effectiveness by rewarding programs that work, encouraging innovation, validating progress, and attracting private capital to the anti-poverty cause. As George Overholser and Caroline Whistler write in the latest issue of The Community Development Investment Review, it would “redirect and refocus our abundant resources, relentlessly, toward the innovations that demonstrate an ever-improving ability to deliver the results our communities need.” Certainly, important questions remain about Pay for Success. Equally important, however, is can we afford to pay for anything less?

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