Creating a mission and policy for non-profit organizations should be started with determining the public interest. In the case of for-profit organizations, the economic forces have a greater importance when creating a company mission or policy, however, in the case of a non-profit organization, the foundation of the values should lie in the common interest of the public. (Roland, 2009) Although in the private sector the market is based on voluntary exchanges, in the public sector this is based on government funded by mandates.
The government and non-profit organizations act as protectors of individual rights (Holcombe, 2006). Public sector organizations need to act in accordance to public interest and they should not be dependent on markets. The main purpose of applying public interest principles in public policies and individual non-profit organizations is to create the “greatest good for the greatest number (Powell & Steinberg, 2006)”. Powell & Steinberg also present the definition of public interest as a “policy with large benefits for most but small costs for a few (2006)”.
There are different approaches to weigh the above mentioned costs and benefits. Utilitarianism is measuring benefits by the total utility of the society, while contemporary utilitarianism weighs benefits and costs alike. Further in this paper the study is presented to evaluate the public interest in diabetes prevention based on the utilitarianism model (Myles, 2002).
Diabetes prevention is a public interest, and health care providers spend a lot of money on treatments, while the problems can be detected early. The interest of the public, based on the utilitarian model, is to serve everyone equally and increase the level of availability of preventive services for most people, regardless of their age, location, or social background. This public policy will not differentiate between patients, and it will be provided in a way that the service is available for the highest number of people at the lowest possible cost. Therefore, measurements would be set up based on the cost of reaching one person and providing him/her with educational materials about diabetes prevention. Still, this measurement is not capable of measuring individual utility. Therefore, the information about the number of affected people in a region will not be assessed. Positive economics can come to right or wrong conclusions (the interest of more people is served, however, the service might be set up at less affected area), while normative economics would involve value judgments, and this way the reach of an “at risk” individual would be assigned a higher value. The principle of maximizing benefits and minimizing risks would be the main purpose of the economic efficiency and equity principles, and it is clearly outlined by Coughlin (2006).