Social Impact Guarantee: An Alternative to the Social Impact Bond?

Published Friday, April 1, 2016 | by George Overholser

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Thus far in the Pay for Success field, Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) have been the leading funding model, wherein private investors invest money upfront and are paid back with interest by the government if the impact objectives are achieved. However, there are a few issues with this model. Government is not used to contingent or multi-year contracts, and thus at times have trouble building a PFS model around certain laws and regulations. And, while this model is supposed to save taxpayer money in the long run, a "double capitalization" phenomenon can occur in which government sets aside the money at the outset of a SIB project that they may or may not have to repay to the private investors, resulting in an inefficient use of resources. The Social Impact Guarantee (SIG) takes this model and flips it on its head. Rather than investors paying up front, it is actually the government that pays up front, and is repaid by private investors if the program's objectives are not met. Third Sector Capital partners is determined to implement the world's first SIG in 2016.