The success or failure of the current Social Bonds pilots around the globe rests on how robustly it can be proved that they've achieved their contracted outcomes.
There are several things for Social Bond commissioners and those measuring Social Bond outcomes to think about:
Use this pathway to identify intended and unintended outcomes; the outcome indicators that will be measured; and those which will be specifically contracted as deliverables for the Social Bonds bidders
HOW WILL YOU?
An effective way to do thi s is
Discuss and clarify the proposed causal pathway through which it's believed the intervention will achieve outcomes.
Discussions about interventions and outcomes always end up more complicated than they at first appear. Basing them on a DoView Visual Outcomes Plan setting out the high-level outcomes and the steps proposed for reaching makes discussions proceed faster and more clearly. How to draw DoView Visual Outcomes Plan.
Use the same pathway for detailed discussion with bidders about: how the risks around unintended outcomes will be mitigated; how impact evaluation will be undertaken to establish attribution to the particular Social Bonds bid's activity; and, how gaming around outcomes will be prevented.
* The Social Bonds contracting agency could develop this DoView visual pathway itself, rather than individual bidders developing it, and it could be used as the basis for bidding and all contracting discussions.
The key risks to Social Bonds pilots are: participants being cherry-picked who are more likely to succeed; providers working under a Social Bond queue-jumping their clients within other services they don't have to pay for; and the measurement regime not capturing the fullness of the outcomes being sought.