What makes a program or organization in South Carolina a “Best Practice” (vs “Evidence-Based Practice”)? And, what qualifications must a program meet to be considered “Best Practice”?
Answered by: Ben Bullock

When talking about “Best Practices” and “Evidence-Based Practice,” we are really talking about two different things.

In social work, and many other professions, “Evidence-Based Practice” refers to programs and interventions that have been proven effective through proper, rigorous, peer-reviewed research protocols.

SCANPO, and many other trade associations, use the term “Best Practices” when talking about policies and procedures—generally for operations and management—but sometimes for program administration as well. “Best Practices” usually represent the best thinking of experienced administrators and practitioners, and in the case of nonprofit organizations, are designed to guide organizations into more efficient and transparent practices, to ensure accountability to their stakeholders, and probably most importantly, to manage risk. An organization not relying on or following “Best Practices” is much more likely to engage in practices that put them at risk of legal action being taken against them.

One of the SCANPO’s functions is to publish the definitive guide on best practices for nonprofit organizations in South Carolina, which we call “Guiding Principles & Best Practices”. This book is the standard by which we measure, though we focus more on the process of our member organizations “aligning” to the GPBP, rather than “getting there”, because meeting best practices is a process of constant and consistent evaluation.

So, to summarize, “Evidence-Based Practice” is what you are looking for when evaluating programs and interventions, but “Best Practice” is what you are looking for when evaluating policies and procedures.