What is Pay for Success?

Pay for Success is an innovative model to finance effective social programs.

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Pay for Success is a set of innovative outcomes-based financing and funding tools that directly and measurably improve lives by driving resources toward results. These tools center on four core principles:

  1. Clearly-Defined Outcomes
  2. Data-Driven Decision Making
  3. Outcomes-Based Payment
  4. Strong Governance and Accountability

Applying Pay for Success

Pay for Success is applied across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. From helping governments efficiently allocate taxpayer dollars to programs that better serve constituents to raising money from private funders to scale effective interventions that build community resilience, Pay for Success encapsulates a range of approaches, all designed to accelerate social change. And Pay for Success can be applied across many different issue areas, including children and families, public safety and reentry, economic mobility, homelessness, and more. 

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What is a Social Impact Bond?

The Social Impact Bond is a unique public-private partnership that funds effective social programs through outcomes-based contracting. The Social Impact Bond enables governments to achieve results for communities by bringing private funding and quality service providers together to tackle specific social challenges.

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What is a Career Impact Bond?

The Career Impact Bond is a holistic model for financing education and training to help unemployed and underemployed people participate in the modern economy. Learners access quality job training, receive supportive services such as living stipends and career coaching, and land in-demand jobs—often in less time, and for less money, than traditional degree programs. The Career Impact Bond is designed to minimize risk for learners, who repay program costs only if they land and keep a job in a well-paying field.

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What is an Outcomes Rate Card?

An outcomes rate card is a contracting and procurement tool that enables governments to select and allocate funds toward positive social outcomes through service provider bonus payments.


The History of Pay for Success

The Pay for Success movement began more than 10 years ago when Social Finance UK developed the world’s first Social Impact Bond. Since then, practitioners across the globe have launched more than 180 Social Impact Bonds in 32 countries. These projects have mobilized more than half a billion dollars to address entrenched social issues that are incredibly difficult to tackle through traditional social program funding approaches.

In recent years, Pay for Success has evolved beyond the Social Impact Bond to incorporate a host of new tools, including the Career Impact Bond, the outcomes rate card, the Environmental Impact Bond, and the Development Impact Bond.

We wish to acknowledge Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) for developing and maintaining payforsuccess.org from 2010-2021. Learn more about NFF’s outcomes-related resources.