The Business of Social Change™

A True Social Capital Market

We believe that we can solve social problems more efficiently - much more efficiently. 

In the U.S. alone, government agencies, philanthropists and nonprofits spend a combined $7 trillion a year to produce social outcomes.  That’s a lot of money.  And yet too many key indicators are still moving in the wrong direction.  Why is that?  Because today we don’t always know what works – let alone what works best.  If we did, we might be able to help twice as many people for half the cost.  And if we knew the true economic value of social outcomes to corporations, we might be able to better incentivize capital markets to finance those outcomes. 

Creating a market for social outcomes – much like we have for financial derivatives, commodities and even carbon emissions – is now within our reach.  Our work at Mission Measurement is helping to standardize, benchmark and “value” social outcomes. Indeed, outcomes are the “currency” of the social capital market.  Governments, corporations and foundations “purchase outcomes” and charities and social entrepreneurs “sell outcomes.”  We hope to contribute to the development of the social capital market through greater transparency: about what works, about what social outcomes really cost and about how social outcomes influence financial performance.   

To achieve this vision, we need three things to happen. 

  1. First, we need benchmarks. We need to know what “good” means. Not just that a program was evaluated or is “evidence-based.”  We need to know the value for a unit of social impact.  The cost-per-outcome. 
  2. Second, we need predictive data.  To level the playing field, and to ensure that we get the best bang-for-the-buck, decision makers need to be able to compare programs and predict the return on their investment upfront.  
  3. Third, we need to leverage markets.  We need to engage the “engine” of our economy, not just the “fumes” of philanthropy to solve social problems.  Corporations will invest in producing social outcomes if the economic value is short-term, measurable and directly tied to the business. And Wall Street will invest in companies that produce social outcomes if those companies outperform the market.