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Pay for Success: How a New Kind of Bond Could Save Taxpayer Money and Improve Social Services

The White House has big plans for a new idea to funnel private money into social work.


Two federal agencies will steer tax money for social programs through a new for-profit investing tool tested in the United Kingdom and Australia, according to a report co-authored by the White House and the Nonprofit Finance Fund.

Rather than providing social services directly, the bonds will allow the government to task a firm in the private sector to solve a public challenge, paying the company only if it achieves certain success metrics. Using pay-for-success bonds could save taxpayer money, earn a profit for impact investors, and incentivize innovation to solve chronic social challenges. In the United States, this is all theoretical at this point, but 2012 may be the year that changes.

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