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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

A Program with a Mission: We promote the highest standards of ethics and accountability in the social sector.


Standards for Excellence

Santa Clara's Customized Standards for Excellence®

Standards for Excellence® at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics is a customized ethics and accountability training program for nonprofits and philanthropists in the social sector. Our program seeks to raise the level of accountability, ethical decision-making, and effectiveness of all nonprofit organizations to foster excellence and inspire trust.  

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Best Practices

Learn about the law, best practices, and ethical decision-making in all areas facing nonprofits.

Share with Others

Share ethical challenges and solutions in small groups and in a safe environment. Pursue accreditation with the Standards for Excellence Institute®.

Resource Access

Join the learning community and enjoy access to educational materials and updates on ethics in the social sector.


Scholarships are available to attend our two-day training and for a one-year membership to our learning community.

Standards for Excellence® Training

Our two-day training is a deep dive into the Standards for Excellence® code, and provides your organization with step-by-step guidelines to achieve a well-managed and responsibly governed organization. The Ethics Center has customized the Standards to incorporate ethics throughout the areas of mission, strategy, and evaluation, leadership, resource development, finance and operations, and public engagement.

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

-Chris Wilder, CEO, Valley Medical Center Foundation

 Ethical Dilemmas in the Nonprofit Sector

This monthly blog explores ethical dilemmas in the sector.  Using real-life examples, this blog also highlights how the Standards for Excellence could help prevent unethical behavior in organizations.

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Cancer Care Point Logo CEN logo Committee for Green Foothills logo Corneal Dystrophy Foundation logo
Family Giving Tree First Community Housing The Grateful Garment Project Logo Home First Logo
Lincoln High School Foundation logo Mentor Tutor Connection logo Pacific Autism Second Start logo

Representatives from the organizations shown above completed the two-day training on the Standards for Excellence® as customized by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics with the Center’s Framework for Ethical Decision Making. In completing the training, the organizations’ representatives have reviewed the Standards and received the tools to assist them in implementing best practices and ethical-decision-making, demonstrating a commitment to transparency and accountability.



Upcoming Two-Day Clinic Series Trainings

November 7 and 8, 2019
To sign up for a Clinic Series, please contact Joan Harrington at