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Insights from the Next Generation Evaluation Conference: Experts Weigh In

This past November, FSG partnered with Stanford Social Innovation Review to put on the Next Generation Evaluation Conference. Nearly 400 social sector leaders gathered for a day of learning and dialogue about the future of evaluation in the social sector.

We asked a handful of thought leaders in attendance to share their reflections from the day with us, and their responses help crystallize the need for Next Generation Evaluation ideas and approaches amidst conditions of increasing complexity, connectivity, and change. The video interviews are now available on the Next Generation Evaluation Conference page.

For a start, Robert Kirkpatrick (UN Global Pulse), Jackie Jenkins (United Way of New York City) and Kathy Brennan (AARP) tell us more about what Next Generation Evaluation approaches are, and how they work. Robert gives us a primer on Big Data, by describing how it is generated and how UN agencies are currently leveraging it to address global development challenges. Jackie explains how Shared Measurement enables multiple stakeholders to think about how large-scale initiatives create systems change across populations. Kathy draws upon her experience at AARP and Living Cities to describe how Developmental Evaluation helps us assess social innovation in light of complexity.

For Maliha Khan (Oxfam America), Nancy Csuti (The Colorado Trust), and Beverly Parsons (AEA and InSites), the need for the social sector to adopt Next Generation Evaluation approaches is most compelling. Maliha discusses the relevance of Next Generation Evaluation ideas to her work facilitating systems change across wide coalitions of partners. Nancy highlights the need for social sector stakeholders to use real-time data for learning in low-resource settings. Beverly speaks of the need for the social sector to leverage evaluation in moving beyond shared learning towards adaptive action.

Perhaps the clearest thing we heard was the sense of excitement building around the diversity of perspectives represented at the conference. Heather Peeler (Grantmakers for Effective Organizations), emphasizes the value of bringing grantmakers and non-profits together to discuss the complex issues associated with Next Generation Evaluation. While the conference got us off to an exciting start in considering the relevance of Next Generation Evaluation ideas and approaches, we look forward to continuing this conversation with you in the coming months!

Shijie "SJ" Lu

Former Senior Consultant, FSG