Social Finance was founded 10 years ago. We saw an opportunity to harness the nascent impact investing movement and build new tools at the intersection of finance and policy to deliver meaningful change and measurable outcomes for our communities. From the beginning, we wanted to create a special firm, underpinned by our core values: putting people first; focusing on results; demonstrating the highest standards of integrity and accountability; and building strong, enduring cross-sector partnerships.
We launched our first Social Impact Bond in 2013. But even as we constructed that first deal and worked to build the field, we always believed that the work of Social Finance went beyond a single tool for impact. That’s why we established our Public Sector Practice in 2014, launched our first Outcomes Rate Card in 2017, and became a fund manager and launched the world’s first Career Impact Bond in 2019. It’s why we continue to rethink systems and markets—and rethink how we work—to measurably improve lives.
Watch this video with our three founders:
We are not alone in this work. Ten years ago, our ideas seemed novel; now, there is an ecosystem of public leaders, impact investors, philanthropy, nonprofits, and researchers built around this evolving field of outcomes-based funding and impact-first investing. Our global network of sister organizations in the UK, US, Israel, India, and the Netherlands is part of this global impact movement.
This is, after all, the golden age of impact. Investors recognize it: more and more, they see finance not simply as a technical craft, but as using investments to improving people’s lives. In our work, that is not some intangible idea—it’s at the center. Money is inextricably linked to outcomes. Building tools with real, measured impact compels us to focus on what matters: not the numbers served, but the impact made; not the deals formed, but the lives transformed.
Of course, for our public-sector partners, that’s always been the idea. But they have embraced the age of impact too. We are still in the midst of a long evolution in making our social infrastructure work better for the communities it serves. Our work has helped shine a light on how sophisticated evaluation, contracting, and funding can unleash the entrepreneurialism of the public and social sectors.
We are heartened that the new White House leadership will bring renewed sense of urgency around outcomes and accountability in social programs. It will be even more important in the next decade to expand bipartisan support for outcomes-based funding approaches at scale across the U.S., building on the momentum we’ve created with the Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act (SIPPRA). We look forward to engaging with the Biden-Harris administration on these efforts.
Amid our nation’s reckoning on social and economic inequities, we are energized by a focus on improving the lives of American workers. We will continue to propel Career Impact Bonds and sustainable public policy tools to ensure that those who are powering our economy are able to share in its growth.
We could not do this work without our partners from governments, foundations, nonprofits, and the private sector, as well as the investors and funders that make our work possible. We are grateful for all the colleagues across sectors that we have had the privilege to partner with through the years.
Yet we are humbled by how much there is still to learn, and how much still needs to be done. We tend to learn by doing. This year, for example, we are continuing to experiment with new impact-first investments, from unlocking donor-advised funds for greater impact to supporting DREAMers in attaining professional degrees. We will lean into our work to improve data and decision-making in government. And we will strengthen our own team’s diversity and inclusion and sharpen our focus on equity.
Over the course of this year, we will share more about what we have learned over the last ten years through a series of articles, podcasts, and webinars. We will continue to build bigger and better tools to meet a moment that’s both daunting and inspiring. The next decade requires more of us all. The challenges we are facing are not backing down, and neither can we.
Tracy Palandjian co-founded Social Finance and has served as its CEO since 2011.
Board of Directors
Bracebridge Young, Jr. Chair
Edward Shapiro Vice Chair
Sir Ronald Cohen Co-Founder
Pamela Dippel Choney
Tracy Palandjian CEO & Co-Founder
Governor Deval Patrick
Dr. Lauren Smith
David Blood Co-Founder
Professor Michael Porter
Luther Ragin, Jr.