What is a public interest "project"?

17 Oct 2014
Author: Robert Precht


Edmund Burke by Sir Joshua Reynolds

One of my favorite quotations comes from 18th Century Irish political philosopher Edmund Burke who said "Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little."  Why is this quote relevant to the question "what is a public interest project"? When designing a public interest project it is often a mistake to think in terms of a grand solution. Your project may not completely solve a person or a group's problem, but that's no reason not to propose small steps that can improve lives for the better. Take for example the problem of crisis pregnancies in Hong Kong. According to the charity Mother's Choice, there are 6,880 crisis pregnancies each year in Hong Kong. Nearly 60% were unwed females, the majority of whom were under 25 years old. One way to look at this as a potential public interest project is try to figure out a way to reduce or eliminate crisis pregnancies. This is a huge task given all the factors that can lead a woman to have a baby she is unable or unwilling to care for. Another way to look at this is to try to figure out a way to provide services to women who have crisis pregnancies to reduce the stresses they face and to improve the future of their babies. That's precisely the approach Mother's Choice takes. In its words:  "We walk alongside young girls facing crisis pregnancies by providing loving and non-judgmental services with a holistic approach so that they can make responsible choices."

The takeaway: don't be deterred developing a public interest project because you cannot find the perfect solution to a problem. Aim to improve the lives of people suffering from the problem, even if it's only a little.