Market Overview

Valley Medical Center Foundation Achieves Highest Certification for Nonprofit Ethics


Only charity in California to earn Standards for Excellence
Institute® "Seal of Excellence"

The Valley Medical Center Foundation has become the only nonprofit
charity organization in California to achieve the Standards for
Excellence Institute® "Seal of Excellence", the nation's highest level
of accreditation for nonprofit governance and ethics. The designation
comes after a year-long process to test compliance with Standards for
Excellence®: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the
Nonprofit Sector,
with specific measures for honesty, integrity,
fairness, respect, trust, responsibility and accountability.

"The number one commodity we have is donor trust," said VMC Foundation
CEO Chris Wilder. "We felt the best way to honor that trust was to put
ourselves to the test and see if we are worthy of it. And we just aced
that test."

The process to achieve the accreditation was exhaustive, involving the
entire VMC Foundation Board of Directors and staff. And that is by
design. The full scope of the organization was tested, well beyond the
annual audit typical of most nonprofit organizations. To do so, the
Standards for Excellence Institute® drew upon its cohort of 80 licensed
consultants and 100 volunteer nonprofit professionals to review all
aspects of the VMC Foundation's governance and operations. That included
an examination of financial policies, employment policies, strategic
plan and code of ethics. It also measured how prepared the organization
is for the unexpected, from a natural disaster to sudden departure of
the CEO.

"This is about making sure that we have systems in place that will guide
the organization no matter who works here," said Wilder. "This is
ultimately about protecting our donors' money. Good intentions only go
so far. We want to institutionalize systems and a culture that promotes
transparency and integrity in all that we do."

As part of the compliance process, over 25 new policies were drafted and
approved by the VMC Foundation Board of Directors, with the application
itself comprising 649 pages of content. The process touched on issues
such as diversity, gender discrimination and racism that are roiling
many American workplaces.

"I'm most proud of our new Cultural Humility Policy that address head-on
our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion," said Wilder. "That
came out of this process, and we are a much stronger organization for

Though the VMC Foundation is an independent agency, its mission is to
serve as the fundraising arm of the County of Santa Clara Health System
and its flagship public hospital, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.
Those are public entities and subject to meticulous oversight. Wilder
wanted the same for the VMC Foundation.

"Our work reflects on the County of Santa Clara and Santa Clara Valley
Medical Center," said Wilder. "We have to be held to a high standard."

This achievement would not have been possible without the support of the
Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, which
worked directly with the Standards for Excellence Institute® to promote
the accreditation program to Silicon Valley organizations.

"The Markkula Center reviewed programs nationwide before becoming a
replication partner for the Standards for Excellence Institute," said
Joan Harrington, Assistant Director of Social Sector Ethics at the
Markkula Center. "This is the most rigorous and meaningful certification
program in the social sector. We are so pleased that the VMC Foundation
stepped up as a leader in Silicon Valley."

The Markkula Center is keen on seeing more organizations apply as a way
to strengthen the local nonprofit sector, and to give potential donors a
new tool to seek out philanthropy partners. Wilder hopes to support that

"Volvo famously did not patent their seatbelt," Wilder said. "I hope to
share lessons learned with other organizations and help them apply,
because we want to send a message to our donor community that the
nonprofit sector in Silicon Valley is driven by the highest standards
for ethics."

About Valley Medical Center Foundation

The Valley Medical Center Foundation is an independent, community-driven
501c3 nonprofit organization founded to support Silicon Valley's most
vital public health institution – Santa Clara Valley Medical Center
Hospitals & Clinics. In partnership with SCVMC, the VMC Foundation
raises philanthropic dollars to improve existing services, pioneer new
models of care, and advance the cause of high quality healthcare for
all. To learn more, visit

About Standards for Excellence Institute®

The Standards for Excellence® originated as a special initiative
of Maryland Nonprofits in 1998 and has since expanded into a national
program to help nonprofit organizations achieve the highest benchmarks
of ethics and accountability in nonprofit governance, management and
operations. The program is offered by eleven state, regional and
national affiliate organizations, and is supported by nearly 80 Licensed
Consultants and over 100 volunteers with professional experience in
nonprofit governance and administration. Since its inception, the
program has accredited or recognized over 200 individual nonprofit
organizations that completed a rigorous application and review process
to demonstrate adherence to the Standards for Excellence®:
An Ethics and Accountability Code for
the Nonprofit Sector.

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