Measuring Success in Pay for Success: Randomized Controlled Trials as the Starting Point

Evaluations are a key feature of pay for success (PFS) projects, and rigorous evaluation designs are important for building the evidence base of effective programs by determining whether a project’s outcomes can be attributed to the program. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are considered the most rigorous evaluation design and give us the best approximation for what would have happened without the program. However, PFS stakeholders often don’t know about RCTs or consider them too expensive, difficult, or controversial.


From Evidence to Outcomes: Using Evidence to Inform Pay for Success Project Design

The question at the heart of all PFS projects is whether a social program can measurably improve outcomes for a specific group of people. If the program works—as measured by a rigorous evaluation—investors get their money back, the government realizes cost savings, families and society benefit from better outcomes, and social service providers strengthen the case for funding their model. 


Pay for Success: The Importance of Evidence

The link between pay for success and building the evidence base for social programs is not always intuitive, but it’s a critical relationship. Watch as PFSI’s Justin Milner explains how pay for success elevates evidence to innovate the way governments do business.


Foundational Concepts and Terms of Pay for Success

This brief asks and answers questions that governments and social service providers often pose as they consider constructing, negotiating, and executing a pay for success project. As a mechanism for using private capital to shift risk and bring evidence-based innovations and proven programs to scale, pay for success is an ongoing enterprise. This document provides a foundational understanding of this dynamic and evolving field.


Notice of Support Availability: Training and Technical Assistance Services for Pay for Success Initiatives

This notice of support availability (NoSA) offers in-kind support in the form of training and technical assistance (TTA) services from the Urban Institute’s Pay for Success initiative (PFSI) to guide, design, and assess potential and existing pay for success (PFS) projects. Urban is offering training and technical assistance only, not direct grantmaking or other monetary investment; the NoSA will not be used to distribute subgrants or other funding.