Next month, the legendary 92nd Street Y (known as 92Y)—the organization that launched the #GivingTuesday movement—will present Bill Meehan and Kim Jonker as part of its high-profile public events series. Meehan and Jonker will appear at the 92Y facility in New York City on Thursday, June 28, at 7 p.m. Tickets for the event are on sale now.
Drawing on their work in Engine of Impact, Meehan and Jonker will deliver actionable guidance that nonprofit executives, board members, staff members, and donors can use to jumpstart their own performance and to achieve extraordinary results for their organization.
Kathy Spahn, CEO of Helen Keller International, will interview the authors, and Maya DiRado—a four-time Olympic medalist in swimming—will introduce Meehan, Jonker, and Spahn. In her remarks, DiRado will describe how Engine of Impact has inspired and equipped her to increase her own impact in the social sector.
Learn more about the event here.
Last week, Kim Jonker moderated a panel at the 2018 Global Philanthropy Forum (GPF) conference in Redwood City, Calif. The panel, “Building an Ecosystem: When Generosity Meets Strategy,” focused on the growth of philanthropy in Africa. In introducing and leading the session, Jonker drew both on her work at King Philanthropies, which sponsors ambitious programs in Africa, and on her and Bill Meehan’s work for Engine of Impact, which explores (among other topics) the nexus of generosity and strategy.
A post at the GPF website summarizes the session:
Strategy is a planned set of actions that enable you to achieve your goals. However, many organizations in the social sector have strategies that lack focus and spread their resources too thin. Kim Starkey Jonker, president and CEO of King Philanthropies, sat down with Valerie Dabady, manager of the Resource Mobilization and Partnerships Department at the African Development Bank and Dikembe Mutombo, chairman and president of the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, to discuss how philanthropists can effectively identify or build organizations with strong, targeted strategies. A former NBA player, Mutombo emphasized the importance of collaboration as a central part of strategy. “Anything you want to do in life, you have to understand you need to work as a team,” he said. Building on this, Dabady pointed out that knowing who to work with, and making the right partnerships for your organization is critical.
A complete video recording of the session appears below.
In their latest column for Forbes—“How Two Figures Shaped Our Core Principles on Nonprofit and Philanthropic Leadership”—Bill Meehan and Kim Jonker each tell a story of engaging with a social sector leader who helped them define what it means to create a true “engine of impact.” Meehan discusses a chance meeting that he had many years ago with Bill Drayton (below left), who later founded Ashoka. Jonker, meanwhile, recalls encountering Roy Prosterman (below right), the founder of Landesa, while she was reviewing candidates for the inaugural Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership. (In a follow-up column, Meehan and Jonker will discuss the core principles that they hold today—principles that emerged in part under the influence of those two men.)
From Drayton, Meehan and Jonker write, Meehan “learned that the McKinsey [& Company] approach to fact-based, analytical problem-solving was applicable not only to business problems but, with some adaptation, to the problems faced by the social sector.” As for Prosterman, they write, he “became the first Kravis Prize winner, and in subsequent years other winners—Pratham, BRAC, and Helen Keller International, to name just a few—reinforced the views about mission, strategy, and scaling (among other essential topics) that [Jonker] began to crystallize” when she first learned about Landesa and its founder.
You can read the full column here.
“For nonprofit organizations, the current moment should be the best of times—a time when they can tap into new sources of funding and when conditions are ripe to leverage that funding to maximum effect.”
So begins a new article by Bill Meehan and Kim Jonker that the Bridgespan Group has published at its website. The article, titled “Most Nonprofits Aren’t Ready for the Coming Impact Era,” draws on findings from the Stanford Survey of Leadership and Management in the Nonprofit Sector to show that most organizations in the sector are falling short of their potential. To ensure that the current era will indeed be “the best of times” for nonprofits, these organizations must improve their performance in areas that range from board governance to strategy. Meehan and Jonker follow their note of warning with a note of optimism: “by working intentionally and proactively to master the essentials of strategic leadership, organizations can seize the tremendous opportunity presented by the Impact Era,” they write.
The article is available (in both web and PDF formats) here.
Scaling up the message of a book, much like scaling up the impact of a nonprofit organization, depends on having the right platform to expand its reach. To help spread the ideas set forth in 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.
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.
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.
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.”
Bill Meehan and Kim Jonker continue to develop new content and new resources that explain and amplify the ideas that they set forth in Engine of Impact. The best way to stay up-to-date on this material is to register for the Engine of Impact newsletter. Each edition of the newsletter features news and insights that will help you improve your leadership practice—and the practice of strategic leadership at your organization.
You can register to receive the newsletter here.
In addition, you can access previous editions of the Engine of Impact newsletter at the links below.
Many nonprofit organizations today, whether they know it or not, are losing their way because they lack a sound strategy. For any nonprofit, a strategy is nothing more—and nothing less—than a clear and rigorously planned set of actions that are designed to achieve a social mission. Strategic thinking in the social sector must draw on concepts from the business sector, but it must also adapt those concepts. By honing their strategy in this way, nonprofit leaders can enable their organization to increase its impact significantly.
On Wednesday, Feb. 28, from 2 p.m. EST to 3 p.m. EST, Bill Meehan and Kim Jonker will present an SSIR Live! webinar that explores key ideas and tools that will enable nonprofit leaders to pursue their work more strategically. The price to register for the webinar is $59.
For more information, or to register for the webinar, click here.
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