Vermont 2017 Outlook on Social & Environmental Impact Bonds

Thank you, Liz Ruffa, for leading Common Good Vermont’s SIB work: 

Social Impact BondIn an effort to diversify funding opportunities for Vermont’s nonprofit sector, Common Good Vermont has stepped up its research and outreach regarding Social and Environmental Impact Bonds, also know as Pay for Success (PFS) transactions. Impact Investing leverages opportunities for nonprofit organizations and government agencies to improve program outcomes through private sector partnerships and funding.  Impact investing refers to investments “made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate a measurable, beneficial social or environment impact alongside a financial return”. Impact bonds work much like Performance Related Investments (PRI) and Performance Based Contracting (PRC).

In 2014 when we first started researching these public/private funding mechanisms, designed to “turn the curve” on lackluster and/or failing state programs and achieve measurable “social and environmental” returns on these investments, there were six in play in the United States. Today, there are 60 projects live across the country, in different stages of assessment, transaction structuring and implementation.

As we learn about ways Vermont could benefit from impact investing, we’ve gained invaluable advice and resources from the Nonprofit Finance Fund and Harvard Kennedy Government School’s SIB Lab. We have also connected with Third Sector Capital Partners,  Sorenson Impact Center and the White House Office of Social Innovation.  These thought leaders and service providers continue to support Vermont’s willingness to test feasibility of ideas and projects – they like Vermont’s nimble approach to collaboration, our keen understanding of metrics and “measuring what matters” and our unyielding desire to help our neighbors and citizens in need. Last year, Harvard’s SIB Lab provide feasibility funding to the Agency of Human Services.

There are a number of projects being vetted in Vermont at the moment for project potential in health and human services, early childhood, supportive housing, food access and the environment. We will report out on findings and next steps at Vermont Nonprofit Advocacy Day in Montpelier on March 23rd.

Learn more at NFF’s Pay for Success Portal and Harvard Kennedy School’s Government Performance Lab for current information about this emerging financial instrument for retooling Government supported social and environmental programs.  Be in touch and let us know if you would like more information on Pay for Success!

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