Engine of Impact
Stanford University recently hosted a terrific Engine of Impact event, featuring inspiring lessons from the high-impact nonprofit, Last Mile Health. On November 27th, Engine of Impact co-author and King Philanthropies President and CEO Kim Jonker and Last Mile Health cofounder and CEO Raj Panjabi took part in an exciting discussion on “Achieving Impact in the Social Sector”, co-hosted by the Stanford Center for Global Poverty Development and the Center for Social Innovation at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and moderated by Laura Hattendorf of the Mulago Foundation.
To an audience comprised of students, (including visiting King Scholars from Dartmouth!) faculty, Stanford alumni, and social sector leaders, Panjabi shared his personal lessons of leadership and learnings so far at Last Mile Health. Lauding the importance of themes of “focus, focus, focus” in Engine of Impact’s Chapter 1, “The Primacy of Mission”, Panjabi stressed the importance of focus in a nonprofit’s activities (versus breadth and diversification). Panjabi shared that the early years of Last Mile Health looked very different from what the organization is today. Initially, Last Mile Health’s interventions were broad, including agriculture, sewing & more! But by honing in on a single concept – professionalizing community health workers – Last Mile Health has achieved massive impact. It was featured as an exemplary organization in Engine of Impact, cited for its current clear and focused mission. Last Mile Health was also featured in Engine of Impact for its impressive ability to scale.
On November 15th, Kim Jonker, President and CEO of King Philanthropies, and Tim Hanstad, CEO of the Chandler Foundation and cofounder of Landesa, led a discussion at the ARNOVA (Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Organizations) Annual Conference in Austin, TX. Kim shared insights and themes from Engine of Impact, with Landesa as a case example of an organization that has mastered so many of the essentials of strategic leadership. Audience members were keen to ask Hanstad, who just stepped down after 32 years at the helm of Landesa, about the challenges posed and lessons he’d learned co-founding a small organization that went on to have incredible impact at scale. “Strategy is all about what you say no to,” said Hanstad. He shared that his team’s commitment to Landesa’s focused mission led the Landesa team to turn down enormous sums of grant money that would have led the organization astray.
J.P. Morgan has selected "Engine of Impact" for its 19th annual list of recommended books.
Every summer, out of the thousands of nonfiction books published in the preceding year, the financial services giant J.P. Morgan selects 10 books to recommend to its clients. Today, the firm announced its 19th annual Reading List Collection, and Engine of Impact is among the titles honored by placement on the list.
In a video released in conjunction with the announcement, co-authors Bill Meehan and Kim Jonker expressed their pride in being so recognized.
To create the list, J.P. Morgan drew on nominations from its client advisors, who suggested hundreds of books for consideration. In its description of Engine of Impact, the firm observes that the book “provides actionable guidance for donors who seek to maximize the effectiveness of their giving, and nonprofit board members and executives who want to help their organizations achieve greater impact.”
An overview of the full list is available here.
King Philanthropies leaders Kim Jonker and Bill Meehan are now contributors to Forbes.
To help spread the ideas set forth in their book Engine of Impact, Bill Meehan and Kim Jonker have agreed to write a regular column for the Leadership section of the Forbes website. Every two weeks, they will post a brief, to-the-point article that leverages content from the book to shed light on current events and to offer practical insight for leaders.
The first entry in the series is a post titled “Philanthropists, Nonprofit Executives, and Board Members Must Awaken to the Dawn of the Impact Era.” It draws on recent developments in and around the social sector—the response to Hurricane Harvey, the decision by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City to change its admission pricing policy, a new study on race and mobility in the United States—to illustrate the quest by nonprofit leaders to sharpen their focus on impact.
Meehan and Jonker argue that we are entering a new era—the Impact Era—and that nonprofits must rise to the occasion:
[T]he world of charitable giving is rapidly transforming as high-net-worth individuals turn their attention from the challenge of creating wealth to that of creating social impact. … The scale, timing, and focus of the portion of global wealth that will go to philanthropy in this era remain to be determined and are very much subject to influence—which is why nonprofits and their leaders must prepare themselves for this moment by earning the right to receive and leverage philanthropic investment.
You can access all posts for the Forbes column here.
How can nonprofit leaders tell if their organization has earned the right to scale? Kim Jonker and Bill Meehan offer tools to help answer that question.
Not all nonprofits are created equal, and not all nonprofits are equally ready to scale up their impact. In the last chapter of Engine of Impact, Bill Meehan and Kim Jonker argue that there are different levels—and different kinds—of scale-readiness. They also present the Readiness to Scale Matrix, an analytical tool that enables users to evaluate whether an organization has reached a point where it not only has achieved an ability to scale its impact but also has earned the right to do so.
Now Stanford Social Innovation Review has published an article by Meehan and Jonker that encapsulates the core logic of the Readiness to Scale Matrix. Titled “Earning the Right to Scale,” the piece offers a brief overview of the seven essential elements of strategic leadership and then describes how an organization’s performance in those elements determines its placement on the matrix.
Although nonprofits remain unequal in their readiness to scale, all of them have a right—and, arguably, a duty—to optimize their performance in the context of how they are performing currently. To help nonprofit leaders gauge how ready their organization is to expand its impact, Meehan and Jonker created the Engine of Impact Diagnostic. This resource is, in effect, an interactive version of the Readiness to Scale Matrix, and it complements the SSIR article.
To read that article, click here.
“It’s one of those foundational books that only comes along every so often. It might even make a nice gift for someone.” So says Denver Frederick, host of the “Business of Giving” podcast, during his recent interview with Bill Meehan and Kim Jonker about their book, Engine of Impact. The podcast covers the challenge of focusing on organizational mission, the ins and outs of nonprofit board governance, and what it takes for an organization to “earn the right” to scale.
John Hennessy, former president of Stanford University, interviewed Bill Meehan and Kim Jonker on Nov. 9, 2017, at an event to honor the publication of Meehan and Jonker’s new book, Engine of Impact. The Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS) hosted the gathering, which took place at the David and Joan Traitel Building, site of the new conference center of the Hoover Institution at Stanford. This video (embedded here courtesy of PACS) shows the full interview as well as the audience Q&A session that followed.