After 45 years of use to involve citizens in strategic planning of community issues, no evaluation studies of search conferences had taken place. Three questions are explored: Are search conferences effective, do they contribute to civic engagement, and what conditions are related to effectiveness. Ten cases were studied along with a meta-analysis of nine other studies. This book reports 4 predictable outcomes: 1. new networks among stakeholders are created, 2. sponsor's objectives are met if they involve visioning or strategic planning, 3. mutual understanding and learning occur, and 4. common ground is the foundation for viable action groups. No conclusions could be made about the outcomes related to civic engagement. Questions are raised about the authenticity of search conferences as an expression of direct democracy. The identification of conditions for success from this study should be useful to practitioners and potential public or non-profit sector sponsors of conferences. Assuring that the conditions for effectiveness are met can mean the difference between incremental change and transformative change and enhancing civic engagement.