This post is for everyone in the translation business who would like contribute his/her skills to non-profit organisations. Volunteer translations are an option for translation professionals to support organisations if they prefer to give tangible goods instead of money or for language students who might just not be in the financial position right now to donate money, but want to make a contribution nonetheless. Personally, I provide German subtitles for TED and translations for Translators Without Borders. TWB always have interesting projects and I thoroughly enjoy working for them and with TED, well you can just pick any video with a topic that you’re interested in and learn more about the subject by translating it.
A selection of volunteer opportunities for translators:
Translators Without Borders: “is an independent non-profit association established in 1993, dedicated to helping NGOs extend their humanitarian work by providing free, professional translations.” On their website, you can see a list of all the clients that TWB is translating for and when you receive an assignment (you get an email and have the choice to either accept or decline) you’ll also see which client you are translating for and where your translation will appear so you know exactly where your donated words go to.
TED: By volunteering for TED, which for translators consists in subtitling videos, your work is exactly in the spirit of TED: Spread ideas worth spreading. No person in a refugee camp will be better off through your subtitling, but you are allowing people who don’t speak English to access ideas they might otherwise not hear about. Translators for TED enable communication, empower people and exert the right of people to have access to information in their mother tongue – essentially supporting the positive aspects of globalisation. Subtitles are reviewed before being published.
Translation for Progress: This is an organisation that provides translations for any type of organisation that wouldn’t be able to pay for translations otherwise. The translations should not be used for commercial purposes and Translation for Progress reserves the right to stop providing translations if their guidelines are being violated by an organisation. It is essentially a good thing as it might be hard for organisations in some countries to get registration as NGO, for example, but it might be a good idea to research the organisation you’re translating for in the individual case.
UN Volunteers: This is a programme by the UN organisation that contributes to peace and development through volunteerism. Mainly English, French and Spanish are required for translations, but there is also a need for translators of African languages or less widely-spoken dialects. You first have to register with UN Volunteers and can then click on the individual assignment and apply for it.
The Rosetta Foundation: This organisation provides translations for non-profit organisations and NGOs. It is looking for volunteer translators with any language combination and you can also volunteer as project manager if you wish, certainly an exciting opportunity.
Global Voices: The focus of this organisation is on spreading media contributions by the grassroots to make them heard globally. Arising from an international blogger meeting, Global Voices wants to make voices heard that are generally not picked up by the mass media.
Aflatoun: Aflatoun Child Savings International is an NGO registered in Amsterdam. It aims at educating children worldwide and giving them the knowledge to improve their lives with a focus on financial literacy. Translations will mainly encompass educational materials.
Kiva: This organisation enables microfunding. Individuals can lend money via their online platform to people in developing countries via Kiva’s microfinance institutions. Kiva claims that 100% of the money you lend goes directly towards funding loans. Once the borrower pays the money back it appears back in your account and you can keep track of it online throughout the lending period. Volunteer translators need to have a native or near-native command of English and the work includes editing, translating, and reviewing of loan profiles.