Cover of Engine of Impact by William F. Meehan III and Kim Starkey Jonker, Foreword by Jim Collins
Engine of Impact
Essentials of Strategic Leadership in the Nonprofit Sector
William F. Meehan III and Kim Starkey Jonker, Foreword by Jim Collins


280 pages.
from $25.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9780804796439
Paperback ISBN: 9781503603615
Ebook ISBN: 9781503603622

Request Review/Desk/Examination Copy


Excerpts and More

We are entering a new era—an era of impact. The largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in history will soon be under way, bringing with it the potential for huge increases in philanthropic funding. Engine of Impact shows how nonprofits can apply the principles of strategic leadership to attract greater financial support and leverage that funding to maximum effect.

As Good to Great author Jim Collins writes in his foreword, this book offers "a detailed roadmap of disciplined thought and action for turning a good nonprofit into one that can achieve great impact at scale."

William F. Meehan III and Kim Starkey Jonker identify seven essential components of strategic leadership that set high-achieving organizations apart from the rest of the nonprofit sector. Together, these components form an "engine of impact"—a system that organizations must build, tune, and fuel if they hope to make a real difference in the world.

Drawing on decades of teaching, advising, grantmaking, and research, Meehan and Jonker provide an actionable guide that executives, staff, board members, and donors can use to jumpstart their own performance and to achieve extraordinary results for their organization. Along with setting forth best practices using real-world examples, the authors outline common management challenges faced by nonprofits, showing how these challenges differ from those faced by for-profit businesses in important and often-overlooked ways.

By offering crucial insights on the fundamentals of nonprofit management, this book will help leaders equip their organizations to fire on all cylinders and unleash the full potential of the nonprofit sector. Visit for additional information.

About the authors

William F. Meehan III is the Lafayette Partners Lecturer in Strategic Management at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and a Director Emeritus of McKinsey & Company.

Kim Starkey Jonker is President and CEO of King Philanthropies, Lecturer in Management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and the former Executive Director of the Henry R. Kravis Prize in Nonprofit Leadership.

Together, they co-authored the popular Stanford Social Innovation Review series, "Fundamentals, Not Fads."

"This is a fabulous book—and a necessary one. It takes vitally important insights that Meehan and Jonker have been teaching for many years and distils them into practical advice that will benefit anyone in the social sector who aspires to achieve an outsized impact."

—Jonathan Levin, Dean, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University

"As a philanthropist constantly grappling with how I can achieve more impact, I found Jonker and Meehan's insights to be provocative and engaging. They go beyond the typical rhetoric regarding 'what the nonprofit sector can learn from business' and give these organizations their due—with great advice. Nonprofits are dealing with often intractable societal problems of enormous complexity and uncertain revenue streams. These authors appreciate the weight on leaders' shoulders, while offering a detailed roadmap to maximize their impact. A must-read."

—Jeff Raikes, Co-Founder, Raikes Foundation, former CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Chairman, Stanford University Board of Trustees

"No one knows the not-for-profit sector and its most effective leaders better than Meehan and Jonker. Their book is a master class on what it takes to drive meaningful impact. In tackling the fundamental questions—strategy and focus, discipline and accountability—the authors get to the heart of what every mission-focused leader needs to understand. Engine of Impact is a book to read and re-read—the definitive guide for all who aspire to lead high-performing and high-achieving organizations."

—Sally Osberg, former President and CEO, Skoll Foundation, and co-author of Getting Beyond Better

"Bill Meehan and Kim Jonker have decades of experience in rigorously evaluating what makes organizations operate—or fail to operate—at a high level. In Engine of Impact, they leverage that deep knowledge to create a smart, compelling guide to doing good by leading well."

—Jamie Dimon, Chief Executive Officer, JPMorgan Chase

"Engine of Impact is an essential handbook for every aspiring social sector leader and philanthropist. Creating social impact is an art and a science, requiring investments of heart and mind. Meehan and Jonker's outstanding analysis combines the intense rigor of business strategy with the critical soft skills of courage and creativity to equip us with the toolkit necessary for transformative social change."

—Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, Founder,, author, Giving 2.0, Founder and Chairman, Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, and Founder and Board Chair Emeritus, Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund

"Building and leading great non-profits is a socially vital—but managerially daunting—endeavor. Enter Bill Meehan and Kim Jonker who, in simple and lively prose, draw upon deep research and lived experience to deliver the essential field guide on how to do it right. All of us—donors, volunteers, board members, executives, citizens—are in their debt."

—Dominic Barton, Global Managing Partner Emeritus, McKinsey & Company

"In an era when the work of nonprofits is ever more essential, Meehan and Jonker deliver critical insights, strategic guidance, and inspirational lessons from the front lines. Readers will benefit enormously from their candor and clear-headed wisdom. We're awash in business books, but the nonprofit sector has been wanting for its own evidence-based guide. In Engine of Impact, they have it. I strongly recommend this book for nonprofit leaders, funders, and anyone seeking to optimize humanitarian impact."

—Jacquelline Fuller, President,

"This book will change most readers. Its style is very direct. It sees the future. It draws on both the classics and the authors' deep knowledge of our field. It is practical, and it cares."

—Bill Drayton, CEO & Chair, Ashoka

"Engine of Impact is an indispensable tool for today's nonprofit leader. Drawing on their considerable expertise and insight, Meehan and Jonker provide a framework for dedicated executives who are committed to building organizations that are worthy of their missions."

—Matt Bannick, former Managing Partner, Omidyar Network

"The social sector has long needed a book like this one, which emphasizes a businesslike approach to doing good at scale. When the bottom line is measured by impact on human lives, the best intentions are never enough. By applying lessons in management excellence, this book will help nonprofits achieve significantly better results."

—Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairperson, BRAC

"Bill Meehan and Kim Jonker have written a playbook for those who are not satisfied with doing some good, but want to do as much good as they can with their time and talents. This is a vital topic, and I'm excited to see how the next generation of nonprofit leaders applies the ideas and insights in this book."

—Cari Tuna, Co-founder and President, Good Ventures, and Managing Director, Open Philanthropy Project

"Hard-hitting and willing to express decisive, experience-based views, this book is sophisticated, evidence- and ideas-based. A 'how and when to do it' guidebook, it is also a pleasure to read."

—Joel Fleishman, Professor of Law and Public Policy, Duke University, co-author, Give Smart

"Every engine needs a tune up from time to time. Even the strongest organizations will find value in Engine of Impact. With inspiring stories and cogent frameworks, Meehan and Jonker show us that social change is an art and a science that demands rigor and spirit. With guidance like this, we can find a path to a better world."

—Jacob Harold, President and CEO, GuideStar

"If you're a nonprofit leader who cares deeply and passionately for the people and causes you serve, you will love Engine of Impact. Bill Meehan and Kim Jonker are quintessential big thinkers, but their insights do not come from 'on high.' This is practical wisdom at a human scale, reinforced with great examples. You will come away from this book with real optimism that we are, indeed, entering a new era of impact."

—Mario Morino, Chairman, Morino Institute, Co-founder, Venture Philanthropy Partners, and author, Leap of Reason

"Meehan and Jonker have worked in the sector, studied their history, interviewed key players, and can compare and contrast what's known about the social sector with what's known about public agencies and corporate actors. The book is grounded in two careers worth of real work...If you, unlike me, appreciate the efficiency of the business book genre then by all means, read Engine of Impact. If you, like me, find the business section of the bookstore the easiest one to skip past, this is one of the rare books worth stopping for."

—Lucy Bernholz, Philanthropy 2173

"[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."

—Anne C. Briggs, Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations