“For to be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others” – Nelson Mandela
This quote is on the back of my business cards. I love it because it avoids all of the terms I dislike that are hard to disassociate with public interest work. It does not say anything about “helping the needy”, “giving to the poor”, or “providing for the underprivileged”. It asserts that in respecting others we are generous, humane, and do not live exorbitantly.
The discussion about when efforts to help actually hurt the target audience is an important one. Within that conversation, I believe that an important step in avoiding a project with negative outcomes is checking that the work is motivated by respect for the people served, rather than charity.