Engine of Impact received a highly favorable recent review in Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations 29.5, 2018. “[This book] has the potential to revolutionize leadership for all nonprofit stakeholders, and thus increase impact for the clients and communities these nonprofit organizations serve,” commented Voluntas reviewer Anne C. Briggs. The review underscored that “William F. Meehan III and Kim Starkey Jonker’s decades of nonprofit and for-profit experience, primarily focused on optimizing organizational performance, creates a strong base for creating a new strategic leadership model for the nonprofit sector”.
The full text of the review can be found at this link: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11266-018-0022-y
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.
A pair of writers who closely monitor new books on organizational leadership have posted notices about Engine of Impactthat highlight its value for nonprofit executives.
Kristin Clarke, books editor for Associations Now, covers Engine of Impact in the lead item of her column on new titles related to association management. She notes that the book outlines “steps to running a well-oiled nonprofit” and calls it “[a] CEO conversation starter and [a] thoughtful addition to the business literature.” (Last fall, Associations Now published an article on nonprofit board orientation that cited the book prominently.)
At Blogging on Business, Bob Morris cites his own experience in nonprofit organizations and praises Bill Meehan and Kim Jonker for “provid[ing] an abundance of valuable information, insights, and counsel.” He concludes his review by analyzing the best audience for the book:
Who will derive the greatest benefit from the material? In my opinion, three groups: senior-level executives in all organizations in the nonprofit sector, senior-level executives in organizations in the for-profit sector who are responsible for increasing the impact of initiatives in the social sector; and decision-makers in capital sources that include VCs and banks as well as corporate and private foundations. For anyone in these groups, Engine of Impact is a must read.
The idea that mission matters—and that a mission statement should be more than a bit of marketing fluff—is a foundational concept in Engine of Impact. In a newly published interview, Bill Meehan emphasizes that point:
Many observers over the years have simply concluded that since so many nonprofits’ mission statements are vague or broad or nonspecific, filled with flowery inspirational language that doesn’t explain what the nonprofit does, they basically give the whole sector a pass and say that mission is not all that important. We don’t believe that. Nonprofits by definition are mission-focused and must start with a clear and focused mission.
Meehan and his co-author, Kim Jonker, spoke with host Dan Loney for the Knowledge@Wharton radio show, which streams on SiriusXM Channel 111. During the interview, Meehan and Jonker discussed the challenges associated with measuring impact, the power of donors to change the social sector, and role played by “insight and courage” in nonprofit leadership, among other topics. And although much of Engine of Impact focuses on ways that nonprofit organizations suffer from notable shortcomings, Jonker evoked the inspirational side of her and Meehan’s work: “It’s a very uplifting journey to write a book about extraordinary nonprofits because there are people devoting their every day and their entire lives to creating impact through the nonprofit sector.”
Since its official release in November 2017, Engine of Impact has garnered attention from a broad array of media outlets. Posts on the News page of this site have highlighted numerous articles, reviews, and interviews that explore the book, its authors, and the authors’ ideas about the present state and future potential of the nonprofit sector. In addition, the book has been featured in several other print and online outlets. Here’s a roundup of such coverage.
This year has yielded a bumper crop of books on philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. So it’s notable that Matthew Bishop, a highly regarded author in his own right and a soon-to-be managing director at the Rockefeller Foundation, found room for Engine of Impact on his year-end book roundup. Bishop, co-author (with Michael Green) of Philanthrocapitalism: How Giving Can Save the World, features a wide range of titles related to social sector innovation on his “Philanthrocapitalism Books of the Year” list. He notes that Engine of Impact provides “a blue-print for thoughtful and effective leadership in the sector” and highlights the value that Bill Meehan and Kim Jonker deliver in identifying “the key factors that have enabled the greatest non-profits to succeed.”
You can read Bishop’s book list 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, in concluding remarks to his recent interview with Bill Meehan and Kim Jonker about their book, Engine of Impact. In his opening remarks, Frederick observes that works that offer “isolated pieces of advice and wisdom” are plentiful. “What is often lacking, …” he argues, “is a serious, well-researched, and thoughtful source on how to make a real and lasting change.” In a wide-ranging conversation with Meehan and Jonker, Frederick explores their effort in Engine of Impact to fill that gap.
The podcast covers the challenge of focusing on organizational mission, the vicissitudes of nonprofit board governance, and what it takes for an organization to “earn the right” to scale. Frederick and his guest also venture into some controversial territory. Meehan, for instance, offers this provocative comment: “[O]ne of my favorite dinner party questions is to ask people what the biggest source of poverty alleviation is in the history of mankind, and nobody hardly ever gets it right. It’s capitalism in China. Number two is capitalism in India. It’s not aid to Africa.”
Kyoko Uchida, features editor of Philanthropy News Digest (PND), a service provided by Foundation Center, has posted a thoughtful and comprehensive review of Engine of Impact at PhilanTopic, the PND blog.Uchida provides an extensive tour of key points from the book on topics such as mission, strategy, and board governance. She homes in on the central role that impact evaluation plays in Meehan and Jonker’s model of strategic leadership:
Meehan and Jonker believe that only nonprofits that can demonstrate, through quantifiable measurement, their impact and capacity to maximize it, should—and will—thrive in the Impact Era. What’s more, their sense of urgency is palpable throughout the book. While none of the concepts they present are revolutionary, they have been reinvigorated and realigned for this moment. Which makes Engine of Impact an energizing, if sobering, read for nonprofit leaders, board members, and funders alike.
The full review is available here.
Thanks to Mario Marino and Leap of Reason Ambassadors Community, the nonprofit sector thought leader Beth Kanter received a copy of Engine of Impact. And she decided to review it on her blog. Kanter, author of widely read social sector books such as The Networked Nonprofit and Happy, Healthy Nonprofit: Strategies for Impact Without Burnout, calls the book “a great read, packed with insights as well as high level frameworks and practical applications” and suggests that it “should be on the holiday reading list” for nonprofit executives, board members, and donors.
Kanter draws attention to the special matrix that Bill Meehan and Kim Jonker present in Chapter 8 of their book. “I love frameworks, but sometimes they are dry and boring. Not in this book,” Kanter writs. “The authors have created a ‘Readiness to Scale Matrix’ which includes five categories, presented with engaging visual metaphors to make it memorable.” (That matrix also provides a framework for Meehan and Jonker’s Engine of Impact Diagnostic.)
A good book review tells you whether a book is worth reading. A great book review illuminates why a book was (or was not) worth writing in the first place. Lucy Bernholz, a senior research scholar at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and author of the annual Blueprint series on “Philanthropy and the Social Economy,” has posted a piece on Engine of Impact at her Philanthropy 2173 blog that clearly falls into the latter category.
In the review, Bernholz notes that Bill Meehan and Kim Jonker move beyond an all-too-common approach to describing the role of the nonprofit sector:
The idea that the social sector can both improve itself and, in so doing, improve and challenge, cajole and nudge other types of enterprises to greater action sets this book apart. Meehan and Jonker aren’t providing the nonprofit sector with “lessons learned from commerce” because business knows best, but quite the opposite. There are plenty of lessons for nonprofits from business, but the social sector’s opportunity (obligation?) is to act in such a way that businesses can follow. . . . [T]hey (nonprofits) are the engine of a society that can collectively address its greatest challenges.
Viewed in this light, Bernholz observes, the nonprofit sector is an “engine of impact” unto itself.
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