Social impact bonds: a letter from the frontline – part 2

Social impact investing Performance reporting Government contracts Australia

In this instalment Elyse sets out some views on the role that SIBs could play in the evolution of a system that focuses on what is important, uses evidence to shape responses, and delivers for the community – and how to make the path to that vision a little easier.

Her key points are:

  • The discipline imposed by an outcomes-based contract can be a powerful catalyst to use data for good, and transparency helps us learn from our collective successes and failures.
  • The development of SIBs can be lengthy and expensive, but things can be significantly simplified if governments ‘front end’ the analysis of baseline outcomes and the selection of metrics. There is a danger that overly complex governance and evaluation will stymie the evolution of SIBs and outcomes-based contracting.
  • It is important that a SIB is seen as a means to an end, with a clear view of ‘what happens next’ at the conclusion of the project.

These insights are based on Elyse's seven years of experience leading SVA's work in social impact bonds. This involved helping service providers develop more than a dozen proposals, being at the table during eight contract negotiations, managing five active SIBs, working with eight different line agencies across four state governments, and securing SIB capital from 160 investors.

In the first instalment of this two-part article Elyse tackled seven ‘myths and legends’ about SIBs.

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