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Volunteer translation... When is it \"abuse\"?
Thread poster: María Alejandra Funes

María Alejandra Funes
Local time: 04:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
Nov 7, 2002

Hi all,



I do not exactly know if this topic should be posted here, but anyway!



Recently I offered my translation services to a non-profit organization based in Massachusetts, what I think many of us do.



Here is the \"problem\": they are asking me to translate some material on a regular basis (monthly), also they asked me to translate some general documents about the organization and, to make matters worse, they are setting deadlines!



Am I wrong or are they trying to avoid the cost for a translator?



Any comment and/or suggestion will be appreciated.



Thanks.



Alejandra


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:10
English to German
+ ...
Your decision when to say "stop" Nov 7, 2002

Quote:


Am I wrong or are they trying to avoid the cost for a translator?



I guess you\'re the only one to really judge it, but based on what you provide, I tend to get the same impression...



Just remember that it\'s up to you to decide when to say \"hold it, guys, can\'t take any more\".

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shfranke  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:10
English to Arabic
+ ...
The atmospherics and circumstances at that non-profit have changed Nov 8, 2002

Greetings.



According to your description, the atmospherics and circumstances at that non-profit entity have changed significantly, and you now have every right to expect and ask for compensation for accepting and doing such work.



Hope this helps.



Regards from Los Angeles,



Stephen H. Franke

(English Arabic,

Kurdish, and Farsi)

(Encountered almost-identical situations here)


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Arthur Borges
China
Local time: 15:10
English
+ ...
Many have OODLES of money and benefits. Nov 8, 2002

There is growing skepticism among labour market researchers about volunteer organizations and my own experience tends to agree with them.



If they won\'t open their bookkeeping to my scrutiny, I now refuse.



If they want to impose deadlines, I CHARGE.



I also give them a cut-off date for free services to make a graceful exit more easily and to incite them to refer me to paying clients in their personal networks.



It\'s also nice to know what hotels they stay at when they go off on little trips: some of these humanitarians cannot do with less than four whole stars, even for a night as they underscore how far a dollar a day will go for some starving thirdworlder.



Lastly, find out what ideology is behind the organization -- there ALWAYS is one. You can best discover this by getting to know the manager a bit better.



Alas, a healthy minority are simply into a creative form of moneymaking and there is such a thing as the \"NPO (or \'NGO\') industry\".



Have been singed twice this way - I\'m a slow learner.





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Steffen Pollex  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:10
English to German
+ ...
Can you really afford to waste your time "on a regular basis"? Nov 8, 2002

Well, up to you. But I think if it\'s regular work they should pay for it. Can you really afford to work for free on a regular basis?



Here is the \"problem\": they are asking me to translate some material on a regular basis (monthly), ...



Am I wrong or are they trying to avoid the cost for a translator?



Any comment and/or suggestion will be appreciated.



Thanks.



Alejandra

[/quote]


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Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 09:10
Partial member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
My opinion Nov 8, 2002

Non profit organizations still need to do things on a schedule. I did some volunteer work in a completely different field (helping women with infertility problems) and I was committed to them as much as if it were a paid job, I would say even more than that. It all depends on your motivations for this volunteer work. I don\'t see anything wrong in the fact that they set deadlines, but of course you can suggest different deadlines which are more suitable for you.

Laura


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Marijke Mayer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:10
Dutch to English
+ ...
I'd say "what a cheek!" to set deadlines. Nov 8, 2002

I just wonder how many days you are spending on your free labour. You\'ve got to live! I\'m all for free work to a good cause, but have you checked this out? Even the people who work there get paid a regular salary! Dont\'be fooled, say \'enough is enough\' and call it quits!

Marijke


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Trudy Peters  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:10
German to English
+ ...
Maria, Nov 9, 2002

When you offered your services to that organization, you should have made it clear that you would not always be available, that paying jobs take precedence, and if they need translations on a regular basis, they should be prepared to pay.



Renegotiate!



Trudy


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María Alejandra Funes
Local time: 04:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Nov 10, 2002

Thanks a lot for your valuable comments and suggestions!



Rgds,



Alejandra


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Matthew Kinnersly  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:10
Japanese to English
Set your terms from the start Feb 18, 2003

Like any other service you provide, you should define the terms from the start. The fact that you\'re not charging doesn\'t change that principle. On this kind of work I state that I offer them translation on two levels. One is free translation, which I will work on like a hobby, pushing it aside when I have more important stuff to do. If they want to give me a pile of work to do, that\'s fine. They should just understand that on an hour or two a week, it\'ll take years, take it or leave it. The other level is paid translation, which puts them in the same position as any other client. They can ask for deadlines etc. As an NPO I\'ll probably still apply a preferential rate. They can choose the level they need for each job, as long as they do so clearly from the beginning.

Of course, the quality has to be the same for either level, just the service differs.

If this doesn\'t work, dump them. There\'s no shortage of good causes.



Matt


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:10
German to English
+ ...
Lousy quality, and late Feb 18, 2003

But hey, non-profit organizations shouldn\'t expect any better from translators!



For non-profit organizations to work effectively, they have to be run

efficiently, just like a business. If this efficiency isn\'t appreciated

among those working for the organization, it won\'t be able to do its job

effectively. I agree 100% with Laura here.



Nor is anyone forcing Maria to work for this organization, with or without

deadlines. If she doesn\'t want to do what\'s needed, she only has to say

no.



I don\'t understand what all the complaining is about.



Marc



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Roland Grefer
Local time: 03:10
German to English
+ ...
Also, keep track of your "pro bono" hours Feb 19, 2003


In addition to taking a more self-confident position, as suggested by Laura, also keep track of the \"pro bono\" hours you are working. At tax time your accountant or tax advisor will be possibly be able to use those to reduce your taxable income.



Regards, Roland



Quote:


On 2002-11-08 10:55, Laura G. wrote:

Non profit organizations still need to do things on a schedule. I don\'t see anything wrong in the fact that they set deadlines, but of course you can suggest different deadlines which are more suitable for you.


Laura



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María Alejandra Funes
Local time: 04:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks again! Feb 19, 2003

Matthew, Marc and Roland, thanks for all your comments!



Roland, you gave me a good piece of advice



Regards,



ALE


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xxxXX789  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:10
English to Dutch
+ ...
Never translate for free Feb 25, 2003

Ofcourse it\'s your good right to do so, but I strongly believe it\'s naïve. These organizations have funds, funds with which they pay their employees, rent their office space and buy their equipment. Many of these organizations get funded by donations from members and some even receive subsidies from the government, which are paid using YOUR tax.



Think about it. Why do you need to work for free while their employees get a salary? If you want to save the world, by all means, do it, but sometimes problems are much closer to you than you think. A friend of yours who goes bankrupt, an acquaintance whose wife passed away... Those people need your help as much as that organization and by helping THEM you know that your help will at least arrive where it is needed.



Your heart is at the right place, but unfortunately too many people in this world take help for granted.



Just a suggestion!



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xxxntouzet  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:10
English to French
+ ...
You are an independent professional Feb 25, 2003

I have chosen to \'donate\' a day every week to a children\'s charity here in Paris.

Because I made it clear, right from the beginning, that this was a donation, not just free translations, I feel they have taken on board the fact that a professional is helping them out, and they respect me for that. So I don\'t get the sort of treatment that you describe.

However, it might happen some time, you never know. So if it happens, I have already decided that I will make it clear that I am doing this on top of my own workload and I will overemphasize the fact, as I would do with any overbearing client. Just because you give, don\'t mean that people should assume that you can give everything, all the time. Just because it\'s a charity, not a business, does not mean that normal interpersonal rules do not apply.

However, if you like them, and feel that their work is important, I think that you should try to make your point in a very kind, but determined way.

The other reason I do this, is because I also sponsor a child for them, and I like the idea of keeping an eye -even lightly- on what is happening in-house. And I like what is happening in-house. Not like some of the charities that you hear about...


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