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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Here's What People are Saying about Standards for Excellence®

Standards for Excellence® Testimonials

Standards for Excellence® at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics is a customized ethics training program for nonprofits and philanthropists in the Social Sector. We offer a two-day Clinic Series as part of our Standards for Excellence program. The Clinic Series is a deep dive into the Standards for Excellence Code, and provides organizations with step-by-step guidelines to achieve a well-managed and responsibly governed organization. Below are testimonials from people who have completed this two day training.


"Not just a training about rules and consequences. To me that is the minimum standard. This training went well beyond that. You might not think that succession planning is an ethical issue issue but it is….Making sure an organization is engaged in appropriate advocacy affects your clients, your mission, your agency; it is [an ethical issue]."

-Chris Wilder, CEO, Valley Medical Center Foundation


“It was a crash course on how to think about conducting business and performing your duties through an ethical lens…I specifically learned a lot from the leadership and board governance session, the ethical decision-making framework, and also the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion session. [Standards for Excellence] helped me think more strategically about cultivating a culture at SOMOS that supports our impact, the needs of our staff, and also our decision-making processes that we model for our community every day. The sessions moved away from a one-size-fits-all frame that we often hear in leadership trainings…We learned a lot about questioning our own practices and processes as well as aligning them closer with our values, mission, and vision.”

– Zelica Rodriguez, SOMOS Mayfair


“My board chair and I were thoroughly impressed with the Standards for Excellence program. Joan and her team provide a thoughtful and thorough examination of how critically important it is to consider ethics in every aspect of nonprofit organization management and governance. Whether it’s decision making, strategic planning, board development, fundraising, finance, legal compliance or everything in between, I learned best practices in each of these areas that I can tangibly apply to my organization right now. I took the workshop just one month into my role as executive director and the experience has proved to be an invaluable asset as I set priorities (many more now than before taking the workshop!) and begin charting a successful course for my organization in 2020 and beyond.”

– Matt Bell, Via Services


“I was glad to learn more about the accreditation process and frameworks for ethical standards. As our organization approaches our 50th anniversary we want to ensure that we are the gold standard for nonprofits in our industry.

“I would recommend Standards for Excellence to other nonprofits because it gives nonprofits the opportunity to think about their organizations holistically and not just focus on programs and services or fundraising. The Standards for Excellence evaluates every inch of an organization to ensure that the organization is strong, ethical and excellent throughout.

“Thank you for giving the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation the opportunity to participate in the Standards for Excellence through your scholarship program…The training is put on by a diverse group of trainers with varying backgrounds and expertise and gives participants the opportunity to ask questions, network with other nonprofit organizations and learn about ways to go from great organizations to excellent organizations.”

– Jennifer Radics-Johnson, Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation


"I really enjoyed the program.  I’m very excited about using this program operationally in my nonprofit.  We work with nonprofits everyday and it [Standards for Excellence] is like a roadmap for best practices in the nonprofit community.  [It provides] great guidelines that can really make you feel that you’re reaching all the standards that you’d hope to in your organization.

"I would definitely recommend this to other nonprofits.  I think that leadership--whether it’s executive director level or boards--should look at this program. It is something that if you invest in this program long term, your organization will benefit, not only will your organization benefit but the people you’re serving as well as donors who donate to your organization.  

"Take a look at this program.  It is fantastic. It has standards and guidelines that will walk you through every piece of the nonprofit organization and help you figure out what the best standards are that you can put in place.  I would highly recommend it. It is worth investing in."

-Larissa Robideaux, Executive Director, Center for Excellence in Nonprofits


"The content [of the training] was ideally organized with just the right amount of information to make it applicable, relevant, and useful.  Time seemed to fly, which is a good indication that while long in hours, the training was well-paced.  Loved the code of ethics and binder [of materials].  The training exceed my expectations in every way."

-Sergio Lopez, Manager of Direct Appeal, Development Individual Giving, Santa Clara University


"Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s Nonprofit Investment Program participated in the Markkula Center’s Standards of Excellence training; it was impressive. The teaching staff was excellent and content was delivered in an engaging and thoughtful manner that held the audience’s attention over two full days! There are two aspects of the training that I found especially unique. First, each organization walked away with its own ethical overlay to use in all aspects of operations. Second, the online library of resources that is available to participating organizations is unparalleled; I have never before seen one repository where you can find templates for anything you can think of related to a nonprofit organization, from strategic planning to board development to public policy. I was delighted for our partners to be the first to experience the training through Markkula Center, and I encourage other organizations to make the commitment to do so – your organization will be better for it!"

-Michelle Fries, Director, Nonprofit Investment Program, Silicon Valley Community Foundation

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