The Future of Evaluation — Tapping the Wisdom of the Crowd

by John Gargani, Gargani + Company

This year, colleagues and I kicked off the Future of Evaluation Project. Our purpose is to gain a better understanding of where the field may be going and the opportunities and challenges evaluators may face. A notable feature of the project is the use of a website and conference sessions to “crowd source” and validate predictions. This collaborative approach taps not just the perspective of thought leaders, but the collective expertise of practicing evaluators, funders, and nonprofit professionals in the US and abroad.


The emerging predictions reflect a strong belief that evaluation is experiencing rapid change, much of it taking place outside of traditional spheres of evaluation practice. For example, there has been rapid growth in corporate social responsibility efforts, social impact bonds, social venture capital firms, and social entrepreneurship, all of which depend on—but may not adequately include—evaluation. At the same time, international development organizations are pushing back against evaluation demands that many believe are counterproductive, changing the motives and methods of evaluations in this important sector. What do these and other changes mean for evaluation? I will ask for your thoughts as well as share the predictions endorsed by the wisdom of the crowd.



John Gargani is the President and Founder of Gargani + Company, Inc., a program design and evaluation firm located in Berkeley, California.

He helps clients—nonprofit organizations, foundations, corporations, and government agencies—achieve their social missions.


Over the past 20 years, he has designed innovative programs and curricula; directed randomized trials of educational reforms; developed new reading, writing, science, and math assessments; and created novel technologies that measure how people think. His work has taken him to diverse settings, including public housing projects, museums, countries adopting free market economies, and 19th century sailing ships.


He shares his knowledge of program design and evaluation in his blog, published articles, workshops, and speaking engagements.


He holds a Ph.D. in Education from UC Berkeley, where he studied measurement and evaluation; an M.S. in Statistics from New York University’s Stern School of Business; and an M.B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.


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