On February 18 2014 a press release announced a Social Impact Bond for Seoul. It came from the The Department of Women and Family Policy, Office of Children and Young People, Seoul Metropolitan Government who have signed an MOU with Korea Social Investment. This could be the first Social Impact Bond in Asia, with several other countries also exploring the concept. Continue reading
The first Social Impact Bond was developed by Social Finance, agreed with the Ministry of Justice and Big Lottery Fund and began to offer services in 2010. Since then, much interest has been generated from public bodies, investors and social sector delivery organisations at all levels in the UK and overseas. Continue reading
On a recent trip to the US, I noticed that the discussions around ‘Pay for Success’ were a little different to those I’d been having on ‘Social Impact Bonds (SIBs)’ with other countries. Particularly in the measurement community, there was an idea that Pay for Success took measurement of social programs to a new level: that ‘Pay for Success’ meant paying for an effect size (by comparison to a control group), rather than ‘Pay for Performance’ which paid for the number of times something occurred. Continue reading
Submissions to the Senate inquiry into the Bill to repeal the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) closed Friday 2 May, 2014 – 154 were published.
There will be two Bills in the process of legislative change. The first, this one, is to repeal the ACNC Act. The second will be to establish regulatory arrangements in its place. The first bill will not come into effect until the second Bill is published.
This analysis of the submissions to the inquiry contains statistics and quotes from a review of the submissions. If you would like to print a copy, please download the PDF. It is organised under the headings:
- Who submitted
- Arguments against the Repeal Bill
- Support for the Repeal Bill
- About the ACNC.
A summary of this information was published as an article, Charities Voice Overwhelming Opposition to ACNC Repeal Bill in Pro Bono News on Monday 13 May.
[The Creating Australia submission was published twice (numbers 16 and 146) and is thus counted as two submissions.]
Position on the ACNC (Repeal) (No.1) Bill 2014
124 (81%) submissions opposed the Bill and 14 (9%) supported it. Fifteen submissions provided information or made statements to the Senate Committee, but neither stated explicit opposition nor support for the Bill. One submission was confidential.
Social Return on Investment (SROI) and Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) are two ideas that are increasingly mentioned in the same breath. SROI is a measurement and accounting framework and SIBs are a way to contract and finance a service. Both require three common ingredients:
- the quantification of one or more social outcomes for beneficiaries,
- a valuation of these outcomes, and
- an estimation of the cost of delivering these outcomes.
While not a necessary ingredient, SROI can contribute to the design, operation and evaluation of SIBs.
*NB the word ‘outcome’ is used here to represent a change in someone’s life – some readers (particularly from the US) may use the word ‘impact’ to mean the same
It seems that more and more students around the world are keen to do some research on social impact bonds. Great! But we can do better than ‘Do SIBs work?’ (try defining success first…) or ‘What’s the relationship between financial return and effect size?’ We don’t have the data for questions like this yet, but there are so many other wonderful questions we can be asking. There’s also a lot of data on twitter and in the media that could be used for interesting studies of stakeholder perception and reaction.
If you are a student researching SIBs and would like to be connected with other students, please use the contact form and include your university, level of study and research topic. I will connect you via email with other students around the world. If anyone else has more questions they’d like on this list, please pop them in the comment box.
- What are the effects of publicly announcing a SIB? How does timing affect whether a SIB gets agreed and how long it takes to agree?
- What are the key characteristics of SIBs that have been announced by haven’t happened? How is this different from those that have happened? What has been the result of these projects e.g. funded by other means, directly commissioned etc.
- Beyond risk and return: what are investors in social impact bonds looking for and attracted to? On what factors does the success of a SIB fund-raising effort rest? E.g. SVA great brochure, Westpac worked with existing customers, Social Finance builds closer relationships and confidence with investors.
- Procurement – how do SIBs challenge the assumptions, processes of procurement? Comparison of jurisdictions. Implications for changes in law.
- What do you procure for i.e. organisation, idea, full blown proposal or service – advantages and disadvantages from cases around the world.
- Making responses public – e.g. Illinois for their request for information – does this impede or encourage innovation?
- Appropriation risk (US only?) – how is this quantified, perceived, legislated against and what are the effects of that on a SIB? Conversely, how might the increased profile of a SIB affect appropriation risk?
- Unstable governments – what are the implications for contractual partnerships in those countries? What’s the financial cost too?
- Relationship between payment metric, measurement confidence and timing of payments – perhaps already in existing literature on performance-based contracting.
- The role of guarantees – how does it change perception of what you’re doing by different stakeholders?
- Who initiates and drives a SIB – how does this shape perceptions of risks and benefits by different stakeholders?
Alex Nicholls and I published a set of questions in our Case Study: The Peterborough Pilot Social Impact Bond (2013, published by Saïd Business School, University of Oxford) around the often overlooked issue of legacy: what happens when the SIB is over. Not all of these are research questions, but studies that go some way to addressing these broader questions might be useful. The following is quoted directly from the paper.
One key question of a SIB is when and why should it end? Other key questions to consider are set out below from the perspective of each stakeholder typically involved in a SIB:
- How to institutionalise innovation into future welfare programmes and in the wider social services market?
- If early prevention is successful, how to maintain and fund preventative services after SIB ends? Do SIBs need to ‘rollover’ to produce sustainable change?
- How can SIB outcomes data (likelihood, effect size, cost of delivery, value or savings to tax payer, related externalities/proxy outcomes) drive better commissioning across government?
- How to achieve key outcomes post SIB?
- How to continue to grow the social finance market to fund welfare services?
- How to report on and share SIB learning and data more widely?
- How to calculate savings from SIB interventions?
- How to develop a secondary market exit?
- How to develop a follow-on SIB investment?
- How to adjust risk and return dynamically to the availability of new information from SIBs in the market?
- How to tranche investments in a single SIB according to different risk and return profiles and different personal costs of capital?
- How to ensure continuity of funding of increased capacity?
- How to institutionalize SIB performance data?
- How to build capacity to engage in future SIBs?
- How to manage on-going collaborative relationships?
- How to disseminate learning?
- How to leave a community stronger when a service ends?
- How to build a pipeline of SIB deals?
- How to build capacity in providers so that they are stronger for having worked on a SIB?
- How to continuously innovate?
- Where to apply SIBs and develop other models that build upon SIB learning?
- When are SIBs no longer necessary, if ever?
- How to build a business model, given high transaction costs?
- How better to segment the investor market to the real, rather than perceived, risk and return opportunities of SIBs?
- How to manage the involvement of commercial, rather than purely social, investors in terms of expectations of high returns and the potential for risk dumping?
- How to ensure that a service gap does not arise for current participants and relevant future populations/cohorts?
- How to avoid worse outcomes in the long term?
- Will improved outcomes be sustained for those who participated in a SIB?
There are two social impact bonds in Australia that have raised investment and are delivering services. They have been called “Social Benefit Bonds (SBBs)” by the New South Wales Government, the state government that initiated them. They are the Newpin SBB and the Benevolent Society SBB and both of them work to strengthen families to ultimately reduce the need for children to be placed in care outside their homes. Investment for both deals was open to wholesale investors upon application. One parcel of investment in the Newpin SBB was transferred to a retail investor in August 2014, so is not shown on the chart. Also interesting to note is that the Benevolent Society, the charity delivering services for one SBB, has invested in the Newpin SBB, as well as in their own. A breakdown of investor types for each SBB is below.
(Source: Presentation by Ian Learmonth, 2013, p.14)
(Source: KPMG Evaluation of the Joint Development Phase of the NSW Social Benefit Bonds Trial, 2014, p.30)
These maps and charts are accurate to the best of my knowledge as of November 2015. The images are slightly clearer if you click on them. Will try to keep them up to date, but feel free to give me a nudge if I fail to. I only count Social Impact Bonds that have been agreed by all parties and subsequently announced publicly. Happy to accept corrections!
[I’m currently occupied with other projects, so I recommend the Social Finance (UK) SIB database as the most reliable source of information and counter of SIBs.]
The references below are for the newer ones – the older ones are best explored through the UK Cabinet Office’s SIB Knowledge Box Case Studies which is a little out of date. Please note my bias towards government announcements over other parties’ – this reflects my personal interest rather than any objective assessment of the materials.
Saskatchewan – Canada
Saskatchewan Govt, 21 May 2014, New Home for Single Mothers Opens in Saskatoon; Funding First of its Kind in Canada
Birmingham – UK
Birmingham City Council – 25 November 2014 news release for service begun August 2014, Innovative approach to finding foster placements.
Chicago – USA
City of Chicago, 7 October 2014, Mayor Emanuel Announces Expansion of Pre-K to More Than 2,600 Chicago Public School Children
Cuyahoga – USA
Cuyahoga County, 3 December 2014, Nation’s First County-Level Pay for Success Program Aims to Reconnect Foster Children with Caregivers in Stable, Affordable Housing
Massachusetts – USA
Massachusetts Govt, 8 Dec 2014, Massachusetts Launches Pay for Success Initiative to Reduce Chronic Individual Homelessness
Fair Chance Fund – UK
Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), 9 Dec 2014, £23 million to help homeless turn around their lives (of which the Fair Chance Fund is £15 million) and specification for tender.
Social investment tax relief for homelessness social impact bonds by Third Sector 5 Feb 2015
EVPA, 6 Feb 2015, First Social Impact Bond launches in Portugal.
Youth Engagement Fund – UK
Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), 19 March 2015, New social impact bonds to support public services (there are two further social impact bonds announced in this press release that have not been fully developed yet – one will be delivered by Social Finance and one by Evidence-Based Social Investments).
Newcastle West CCG – UK
NHS Newcastle West Clinical Commissioning Group (NWCCG) ‘Ways to Wellness’ programme, 27 March 2015,
NHS in Newcastle commits £1.65m to improve long-term health conditions
Santa Clara County – US
County of Santa Clara, 13 August 2015, County of Santa Clara Launches California’s First “Pay for Success” Project
Tel Aviv – Israel
Social Finance Israel, 5 November 2015, Israel’s first Social Impact Bond Gets Underway
There’s a diagram/framework that keeps being used to describe the social investment market and it drives me mad! [I’m not going to point fingers, but its use is fairly widespread, to the point where some organisations use it to label their computer files…]
This diagram assumes that your world revolves around money. When you see it, you are supposed to see a very logical display of: the supply of money; the demand for money; and the things that help these two connect.
But social finance is about more than money. It’s about people and changes in their lives. Social purpose organisations use the words ‘supply’ and ‘demand’ to talk about housing, food, services, blood…
As social finance/social investment/impact investing become more widely discussed and practised, our use of language is central to its development. Whatever our perspective, we need to use as little jargon as possible, communicating meaning effectively. We should ask people to explain what they mean, reduce our use of acronyms and assume that the world view of others is not our own.
The diagram above can be useful if we all understand what it means, for example:
It’s still a little money-centric, but it involves fewer assumptions. Is it clear enough?
Update July 2014
Until now, the bulk of social/impact investment reports have been written by investors, for investors, with a few written by policy makers trying to encourage investors. We’re just starting to see the emergence of publications on social/impact investing written for social purpose organisations. Big Lottery Fund has published Social Investment Explained, beautifully written David Floyd at Social Spider and Nick Temple at Social Enterprise UK, with support from Dan Gregory. It sets the benchmark for communication – its language and structure make it accessible to the organisations that are the basis of the existing and potential market.
The social impact bonds (SIBs) so far agreed have displayed striking similarities in how they have been resourced. They have, at a minimum, featured two key roles: (1) the worker and (2) the senior champion. After speaking to most of the people responsible for SIBs agreed across the globe, it appears to me that these two roles are essential to driving SIB development all the way to signing a contract. These two roles are by no means sufficient to achieve a SIB contract, but they are necessary.
Somebody needs to take responsibility for doing the bulk of the work within the commissioning body. This involves briefing and negotiating with internal stakeholders, acting as secretariat for decision-making committees, collecting and analysing data analysis and liaising with external stakeholders. Imagine this person researching, writing and then physically chasing up decision documents and moving them from one desk to the next. They need the flexibility to work in this way, requiring different processes and a broader scope than those in established roles, and they need to be enough of a risk-taker to keep fighting the barriers to change. They need to enjoy the exploration of something unknown and be naturally inclined to include both internal and external stakeholders on the journey. They cannot do this work on top of their normal day job. People who have performed this role say:
- “I almost created my own job”
- “I was never part of the wider set-up – I was never a civil servant within the hierarchy.”
- “I’m a bit of a square peg in a round hole”
The focus of developing a SIB is to get everyone to agree. Working towards an agreement necessarily involves a range of stakeholders as the project progresses in an iterative manner. Sometimes external service delivery providers, data custodians, other government agencies and investors have been involved in discussions before a government decision has been sought to work on development. Sometimes the government decision is made first and then work with stakeholders sets the direction of the development process. A SIB won’t happen because one person worked very hard, alone at their desk for a long time, they need to be saying, “I’m a networker – I connect with people and get things done”.
All successful SIBs have been driven by people who are passionate about the project, who won’t give up on finding solutions to new problems on a daily basis “it was about keeping the energy going – you can’t recreate that in someone that is not interested”. Several SIB development projects have stalled within public agencies due to the nominated SIB producer rationally declaring this mountain too high to climb.
The senior champion
Doing the legwork on a project that breaks new ground every day is too hard a task if the ‘worker’ also has to justify why they are creating work for everyone by pushing through change. A senior champion is crucial to validate the project and its resourcing, as well as compelling the necessary people at all levels across government to participate in discussions. Interviewees said things like, “My boss allowing me to have time to work on it was absolutely key” or “Having them state this was their pet project opened doors.” The senior champion is also responsible for political negotiation and positioning.
Informal connections may lead to successful formal ones
Vital SIB partnerships have been started in unlikely places. These include parties, running groups and corridors. This reflects the cross-sectoral nature of SIBs and that at the moment, they are built by alliances between first-movers, rather than through established communication channels.
Why are SIBs so difficult for government agencies to develop?
SIBs are difficult because they involve change. Public service agencies aren’t set up to change often – they are structured to maintain huge, vital service systems and every public servant is a dedicated cog in this machinery. SIBs ask for a whole lot of changes at once. The first is the measurement of outcomes and the valuation of those outcomes, such that payment may be made on the basis of measurement. That’s pretty new for most public agencies delivering services. SIBs also involve procurement practices that don’t specify ‘how’ services should be delivered, which can be contrary to traditional risk and quality management practices. Social impact bonds require new ways of thinking and decisions from public service units responsible for legal, finance, procurement, service design and data. And then all the external stakeholders are required to change the way they’ve been thinking and operating too!
The Harvard SIB Lab
The Harvard SIB Lab is a clever model because it recognises the difficulty public agencies have with resourcing SIB development. The Lab rewards successful applicants with someone dedicated to working on the project. This person may or may not take on the role of owner of the work, depending on the person and situation.
Department of Work and Pensions Innovation Fund
This suite of programs, which includes several SIBs, was developed differently to other SIBs so far. An allocation of £30m was made for an innovation fund to explore early intervention programs with young people. The next step was to think about how to distribute this funding and a decision made to tender for ten programs financed by social investment, some of which are SIBs. Public servants involved in this project seem to have been able to do so within their existing roles.