Evaluation Toolkit

PFSI's Evaluation Toolkit offers an accessible illustration of rigorous evaluation and its importance in pay for success (PFS) projects.


Practical Considerations for Pay for Success Evaluations

Evidence is at the core of the pay for success movement, which pushes government to rigorously evaluate programs and pay only for those that achieve positive outcomes. Evidence, however, is only as good as the evaluation that produces it. As such, evaluators are an integral part of any PFS project, from beginning to end. In these projects, the evaluator implements activities that assess program outcomes in order to determine success payments from government to investors. Evaluators should be engaged early in PFS project development.


The Role of Pay for Success Evaluators: Lessons Learned

Drawing on the experiences of Urban researchers engaged in PFS evaluations, this paper focuses on the unique characteristics and primary responsibilities of the evaluator in designing and implementing PFS evaluations, as well as ways in which the evaluator can leverage their expertise to go beyond these primary roles to work with each PFS stakeholder to strengthen both the project and the evaluation. Urban’s experience has shown that the early and continuous engagement of an evaluator is important as PFS projects proceed through stages of development.


An Introduction to Evaluation Designs in Pay for Success Projects

This brief provides a basic overview of evaluation designs to assist pay for success (PFS) stakeholders engaged in deal development. It focuses on comparison and its relation to various designs, and it presents key questions that PFS planners should address as they participate in evaluation design discussions. In PFS projects, strong evaluations are tasked with determining what happened, if the program caused these outcomes, and if outcome payments are triggered.


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.