Caroline Whistler

CEO and Co-Founder

San Francisco Office

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Caroline Whistler is co-founder and CEO of Third Sector Capital Partners, Inc., where she leads the firm’s work accelerating America’s transition to a performance-driven social sector. Under her leadership, Third Sector has transitioned more than $360M in public funding to outcomes-oriented contracts, focusing those resources on improving solutions for key social issues including homelessness, mental illness and family economic mobility. Third Sector has grown to serve more than 40 state and local government jurisdictions, with strategic partnerships including: New Profit, the Ballmer Group, the Kresge Foundation, Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy, and the Stanford University Center on Poverty and Inequality. Under Caroline’s leadership, the firm has become an established national nonprofit with offices in three cities, 44 employees and a $7.7M operating budget.

Caroline is recognized nationally as a leading expert in Pay for Success and outcomes-oriented contracting. In 2016, the Chronicle of Philanthropy named her to their “40 Under 40” list recognizing nonprofit and philanthropic leaders who are driving forward innovative solutions to pressing problems. In the same year she was also recognized by Living Cities as one of the country’s “25 Disruptive Leaders” working to improve economic outcomes for low-income people in America’s cities.

Caroline co-founded Third Sector after completing a Fulbright Fellowship in Brazil researching nonprofit sustainability. Prior to Third Sector, she worked at Nonprofit Finance Fund where she structured growth capital campaigns that raised an estimated $320 million for nonprofits. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Duke University where she studied Political Science and African-American Studies, and was a Robertson Scholar.


"Underwriting Innovation: How Information Technology and Pay for Success Contracting Can Transform Public-Sector Outcomes" by Caroline Whistler and Matt Gee

"Defining Positive Outcomes" by Caroline Whistler and John Grossman.

25 Disruptive Leaders Who Are Working to Close the Racial Opportunity Gaps by Ben Hecht, President & CEO, Living Cities

"Dividends for Doing Good: Caroline Whistler" by Nicole Wallace, Chronicle of Philanthropy's 40 under 40

Translating Plain English: Can the Peterborough Social Impact Bond Construct Apply Stateside?” by Drew von Glahn and Caroline Whistler.

Pay For Success Programs: An Introduction” by Drew von Glahn and Caroline Whistler.

The Real Revolution of Pay for Success: Ending 40 Years of Stagnant Results for Communities” by George Overholser and Caroline Whistler, published in the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s Community Development Investment Review.