Explore this section for latest announcements, ideas, and stories from Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (SF Fed) on Investing in Results.

News 

The Evolving Promise of Pay for Success

By Sindhu Lakshmanan, Roger Low, & Caroline Whistler

Despite growing pains, the pay for success funding model is finding renewed success in communities across the United States and is primed to evolve into an ever-more-powerful tool for social change. In this article, the authors discuss the difference between PFS and PFS financing, how PFS can be useful in today's political cycle, and the need for a focus on equitable practices.

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News 

New Report! Pay for Success: The First 25

NFF's Pay for Success Team

Pay for Success: The First 25 is a detailed, comparative analysis of the first 25 projects to launch in the United States, drawn from NFF’s own experience as well as the invaluable contributions of peers in the field. This report builds on NFF research and analysis previously published in “Pay for Success: The First Generation” and in the book “Payment by Results and Social Impact Bonds.” It highlights lessons and contributions from these pioneering projects along with case studies and tables that look at everything from project structure to results, payments, and more.

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News 

Can investors and donors co-exist while nonprofits thrive?

The Nonprofit Times

What Matters authors Lindsay Beck and Catarina Schwab, co-founders of NPX Advisors, have announced their first Impact Security in which both donors and investors give money to a project, with potential for the investors to earn a return if certain goals are met. The first four-year pilot involves The Last Mile, a nonprofit dedicated to fund a web development shop inside San Quentin State Prison. While Beck and Schwab believe this represents a new, more outcomes-oriented avenue for philanthropists, Phil Buchanan of Center for Effective Philanthropy believes this vehicle represents too much "business-ificiation" of the social sector, and puts nonprofits in a precarious position.

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News 

Getting to Better Health Care at Lower Cost

Antony Bugg-Levine and David Waters

Medically tailored meals are proven to save money. So how can we scale them? This article moves beyond the food is medicine movement to describe the funding necessary to realize the benefits of reorienting our healthcare system to center around partnerships between hospitals and insurance companies, and community based organizations improving conditions that allow people to stay healthy. David Waters will be speaking at our upcoming event, Invest in Results Boston.

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News 

Nonprofit Resource Equity and Access: A Call to Close the Gap

By Kate Crisalli and Peter Kramer

More funders are looking for nonprofits to show evidence that what they are doing is working, which means that stronger nonprofits with the capacity to collect and analyze data are better equipped to do so and thus receive more funding than under-resourced nonprofits who struggle to make ends meet. While being able to articulate and prove your outcomes is important, it's equally important that the sector support nonprofits to build their infrastructure around impact measurement to get to this point, especially since the under-supported nonprofits are often even more connected to marginalized communities that need their services. In this article, NFF's Kate Crisalli and Peter Kramer call on funders to fund a continuum of capacity improvement, form trusting and communicative partnerships with their grantees, grant flexible funds, and look for nontraditional measures of success. In this way, we can better spread resources across the sector and achieve even more outcomes for our communities.

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News 

Partnerships for Shared Outcomes at 501(c)onference Los Angeles

If you're Los Angeles, make sure to swing by Center for Nonprofit Management's 501(c)onference tomorrow to hear NFF's Annie Chang, Associate Director of Advisory Services, moderate a panel on effective partnerships for shared outcomes featuring Interface Children & Family Services' Erik Sternad, Ventura County Probation'sTheresa Hart, and Ventura County Executive Office's Frank Chow and Chrissy Madden.


America cannot meet the ever-increasing need for social services with current approaches. We must find innovative ways to apply knowledge, data, resources, and government purchasing power to improve outcomes while managing costs to support, advance, and engage people and communities. This session will illustrate how three diverse organizations have successfully partnered to launch the Ventura County Project to Support Reentry. All audience members will leave with a free copy of a new book on outcomes – What Matters: Investing in Results to Build Strong, Vibrant Communities – and a tool to assess their organization’s readiness to participate in outcomes-oriented projects.

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News 

Troy’s Kresge Foundation, New Jersey’s Prudential Financial, and the Ballmer Family Invest in the Largest U.S. Pay-For-Success Fund to Date

Grace Turner

Prudential Financial Inc., Steve and Connie Ballmer, and The Kresge Foundation have committed a $40 million investment to The Community Outcomes Fund, created to scale Pay for Success investments in the US. The fully raised fund is expected to be $75 million, and will help align government resources with evidence-based solutions to social challenges.

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News 

A New Model for Financing Nonprofits

by Andrew Ross Sorkin

NPX launched the Social Impact Security on Tuesday. This new financial instrument works by pooling donations into a donor fund, and a separate group of investors then buy into performance-based bonds. The bond money goes to financing the nonprofit, and if its pre-determined outcomes are achieved, the donor funds are used to pay the bondholders.

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May 9, 2018

NFF Survey: Responding Nonprofits Address Outcomes

In the latest Nonprofit Finance Fund State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey, 73 percent of respondents say their nonprofits are likely to pursue outcomes-based grants and/or contracts in the next two years.

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March 22, 2018

Antony Bugg-Levine on Dollars and Change

Nonprofit Finance Fund's CEO, Antony Bugg-Levine, appeared on Wharton Business Radio's Dollars & Change program to discuss the founding of Nonprofit Finance Fund, the birth of impact investing, and the movement towards an outcomes-based world.

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February 14, 2018

How a Police Chief, a Governor and a Sociologist Would Spend $100 Billion to Solve the Opioid Crisis

by Josh Katz

With the American opioid epidemic still raging and the number of deaths climbing, the New York Times asked a panel of 30 experts how they would spend $100 billion to solve it. The consensus was that funding should go towards four major areas: treatment, harm reduction, and demand- and supply-focused solutions. 27% of the pool would be spent on demand-focused solutions, such as community development, post-incarceration support, and education, further cementing the need to spend less on immediate care and more on upstream solutions that help reduce the effects of the crisis for good.

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February 1, 2018

Malloy Administration Launches Innovative Solution to Improve Results for At-Risk Infants, Young Children and their Parents

Connecticut Office of Early Childhood

The Connecticut Office of Early Childhood has launched the nation's first ever two-generational outcomes rate card, designed to achieve better outcomes for families by focusing on the child and parent. The OEC will use federal and philanthropic funds to pay providers to achieve key goals, including healthy births, safe children, family stability, and caregiver employment. 

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January 17, 2018

NFF Opens 8th State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey

NFF’s Survey gathers quantitative and qualitative data from thousands of organizations of all sizes, missions, and geographies. 

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January 17, 2018

Paying for social outcomes: A review of the global impact bond market in 2017

Emily Gustafsson-Wright and Izzy Boggild-Jones

When 2017 concluded, 32 new impact bonds had been put into play, bringing the total active impact bonds to 108 with several more in development. What Matters author Emily Gustafsson-Wright details the characteristics of these bonds, including their geographic spread, sector focus, number of beneficiaries, and what we can expect to see in 2018.

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January 12, 2018

Saving lives, saving money: Hospitals set up homeless patients with permanent housing

Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, Chicago Tribune

The University of Illinois Hospital is spearheading an initiative called Better Health Through Housing, which is working to place several of its chronically homeless patients into permanent housing, ultimately reducing the amount of money that is spent on emergency healthcare for those patients. U of I Hospital's director of preventative emergency medicine, Stephen Brown, claims that the "solution is cheaper than the problem," and if other hospitals get involved, it can have a dramatic effect on reducing homelessness in the city. 

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January 10, 2018

Health care's 'upstream' conundrum

David H. Freedman, Politico

While spending on healthcare in the United States keep rising, life expectancy is steadily shrinking. Research shows that rather than spend money on health costs, it is more cost effective to spend money on upstream social services that lead to less spending on emergency care and better health outcomes overall (also known as addressing the social determinants of health). Though this approach has more and more evidence behind it, America's healthcare system is not set up in a way that rewards the long view on the benefits of this type of spending, and politicians must show evidence of change within 2-4 year cycles. Researchers and health experts are experimenting with different ways to illustrate the economic and health benefits to all parties of this outcomes-focused orientation.

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January 9, 2018

Using Pay for Success in Medicaid Managed Care and Value-Based Purchasing Initiatives

Diana Crumley, JD, MPAff and Allison Hamblin, MSPH

What Matters author Allison Hamblin discusses how Pay for Success can support Medicaid managed care programs and values-based purchasing initiatives that are looking to provide more efficient care.

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January 9, 2018

[Review] What Matters: Investing in Results to Build Strong, Vibrant Communities

Philanthropy News Digest reviews our recently-released book, What Matters: Investing in Results to Build Strong, Vibrant Communities.

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December 26, 2017

New 'Impact Security' Could Revolutionize Philanthropy

Devin Thorpe

A new Wall Street security known as an "Impact Security" aims to change philanthropy by allowing nonprofits to issue securities to private investors. The money then gets used by the nonprofit to fund programs that have a measurable impact, and is paid back by philanthropic guarantors rather than the nonprofit themselves.

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December 19, 2017

Funding your mental health services and criminal justice reforms in the new year

Samhsa's Gains Center

Pay for Success has been gaining traction as a viable method for funding and paying for results, which is evident in some of the early successes experienced in Santa Clara County and Denver. Even those who do not ultimately choose to undertake a Pay for Success project find it useful to participate in the exploration process, which yields a stronger understanding of their program, deeper partnerships, and more service innovations.

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December 5, 2017

Paid in Full: How to Reorient Philanthropic Investments for Justice-Oriented Collective Action and Impact

Dorian O. Burton & Brian C.B. Barnes

Philanthropy often creates only partial investment strategies that create outliers of success. Instead, philanthropy should consider a full investment strategy that puts the community as the center, and defines and pays for outcomes and not outputs. 

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November 21, 2017

"Fundable, Doable, and Measurable." A Foundation's Success Against Homelessness

Alyssa Ochs

In Orlando, Florida, chronic homelessness has been cut by fifty percent over the past few years, thanks to the Central Florida Foundation and Central Florida Commission on Homelessness' efforts to bring together over 160 organizations fighting homelessness to do so in a more collective and therefore impactful way. Major milestones include service providers entering data into a central database and measuring outcomes against a scorecard created by Central Florida Commission on Homelessness - goals that include clients remaining housed for one year, maintaining their income, and having access to emergency services.

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November 15, 2017

Life on MaRS: Canada's Social Finance Forum explores "the next big thing"

David Floyd

Last week, NFF's CEO Antony Bugg-Levine spoke at Canada's Social Finance Forum about how Social Impact Bond investments puts the solution first and the return second, which leads to better outcomes for the beneficiary. This was part of a larger forum on social finance as the "next big thing" in Canada.

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November 7, 2017

Adopting an Outcomes-Based Approach for Lasting Impact

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and Nonprofit Finance Fund's joint Invest in Results campaign brought government officials, service providers, investors, and academics together in Washington, DC to showcase some of the ways that organizations and city governments are shifting from outputs to outcomes, and engaging in cross-sector collaboration to solve the root causes of social issues.

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November 2, 2017

Announcing the Newest Moneyball for Government Nonprofit Leaders

We're honored that NFF's CEO, Antony Bugg-Levine, has been named one of Results for America's Moneyball for Government All-Stars. These leaders are committed to using evidence in their work to improve outcomes for children, families, and communities. 


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October 24, 2017

Private Capital Takes a Risk to Help House Neediest

Rishika Dugyala

Santa Clara County's Project Welcome Home is a six-year Social Impact Bond project helping house chronically homeless individuals and families, and San Francisco is considering the same approach to end homelessness, as well as help low-income mothers and at-risk youth after upgrading its computer systems. Stakeholders are beginning to recognize the value of using private capital to pay for social progress, especially after seeing how current Social Impact Bond projects have been progressing.

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October 24, 2017

2017 #WhatWorks Reading List: Great Fall Reads on Evidence, Data and Results

What Matters: Investing in Results to Build Strong, Vibrant Communities tops Results for America's What Works 2017 Reading List.

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October 20, 2017

Performance-Based Contracting: Rules for the Road

A group of ambassadors from the Leap of Reason Ambassadors Community, including NFF's CEO Antony Bugg-Levine, gave advice to a city government agency on what to focus on when developing a framework for performance-(i.e. outcomes-) based contracting. While there are a lot of potential pitfalls to watch out for, this type of contracting can be the key to centering government around performance.

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September 27, 2017

As Wildfires Scorch U.S. Forests, Forest Resilience Bond Blazes a New Trail

In the midst of a potentially record-setting fire season, public-private partnerships like the Forest Resilience Bond are seeking better outcomes by preventing wildfires through better forest health.

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September 14, 2017

Broad Support and Innovation Drive Social Sector Shift to Outcomes

In an outcomes orientation, funding is tied to the ability to demonstrate that high-quality services produce results against the country’s most severe problems in health, education, housing, employment, and more. A recent Washington, DC convening was the continuation of a campaign and national dialogue guided by NFF and the SF Fed.

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September 14, 2017

"Only Collaboration Can End America's Opioid Crisis"

By Melissa Skahan, Vice President of Mission Integration at Mercy Hospital, writing in The Hill

"Substance use disorders, recovery, intergenerational trauma, and the stabilization and healing of lives are complex, long-march issues that urgently require a new and comprehensive approach..." 

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September 8, 2017

"We Won’t End Homelessness Until We Figure Out What Actually Works"

By Muzzy Rosenblatt, CEO and President, BRC, writing in The Hill

"Our clients were facing less secure housing options, and therefore at higher risk of returning to the shelter. So, we developed a new financing model: We are building a new homeless shelter and leveraging its revenues to also build 135 affordable apartments..."

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September 7, 2017

New NFF Report: Pay for Success Scorecard: Lessons from the Vanguard of the Outcomes Movement

The report examines progress made toward the goals and aspirations of the California Pay for Success Initiative, launched in 2014 with The James Irvine Foundation, and offers perspective on how to rethink the way we plan, purchase, and fund social services.

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September 7, 2017

"We Need a Long Term Plan for Reducing Reincarcerations"

By Sam Schaeffer, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), writing in The Hill

"We must continue to shift our collective anti-recidivism efforts to focus on outcomes, which a handful of nonprofits and governments have demonstrated is possible. Today, governments have the opportunity to take a strong lead as the stakeholders with the most power to use dollars and policies to drive lasting, positive change..."

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August 25, 2017

Missed the San Francisco Event? Listen to the Recorded Dialogues

From funding strategies to outcomes in action, speakers in the San Francisco event discuss how outcomes-based approaches inform their practice. The talks have been split into separate, brief videos for easy browsing.

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July 14, 2017

Outcomes Campaign Goes West

The best hope for lasting progress against America’s biggest social problems is for service providers and funders to align around what really works – and what it really costs – to advance healthy communities. This was the unifying message, as NFF and the SF Fed kicked off the west coast book launch and outcomes dialogue.

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July 5, 2017

Social Sector Mobilizes toward Better Outcomes for US Communities

Hundreds of experts from government, nonprofits, philanthropy, and finance gathered today to share ideas and advance the innovation needed to solve America’s most severe problems in healthcare, education, housing, employment, and more.

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July 3, 2017

"Rules and Rituals: How to Drive Change"

Excerpted chapter from Investing in Results by Zia Khan, in Stanford Social Innovation Review

"A paradigm shift toward results-based funding is a major analytical breakthrough. But its benefits can be realized only if we look at the number of rituals that need to change and make sure we balance strategy with culture in thinking about how to make those changes."

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July 1, 2017

"Keeping Your Eye on the Long Term in a World of Short-Term Pressures"

By T.A. Frank, in Drucker Institute

How do you persuade stakeholders who are resistent to buy into a long-term mindset? Read NFF CEO Antony Bugg-Levine's response to T.A. Frank of the Drucker Institute in this article on long-term thinking.

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June 28, 2017

"Rethinking Homeless Shelters From the Ground Up"

By Krutika Pathi, in City Lab

Krutika Pathi speaks with BRC CEO Muzzy Rosenblatt about his organization's blueprint for addressing homelessness. His suggestion: a shift toward a results-based funding model.

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May 31, 2017

"Grant Makers, Put Results First in Deciding How to Give"

By Antony Bugg-Levine and Kerry Sullivan, in Chronicle of Philanthropy

"Making the shift from specific activities to overall results requires a new contract between those who deliver social services and those who pay for them, one in which taxpayers and philanthropists will know they can expect to see the results. For this to happen, they must free service providers from the red tape that makes programs and spending dependent on preset activities and agree to pay the full costs of the work they are hoping to accomplish..."

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