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Pro bono translations and business records/accounts
Thread poster: JackieMcC
JackieMcC
Local time: 06:05
French to English
Dec 3, 2007

Hello all,

I'm wondering how to deal with pro bono translations. I've recently done a few pro bono jobs for a non-profit association (French 1901 law) - I'm ashamed to say that after 15+ years translating these are the first jobs of this type I have ever done!
At the moment I have absolutely no record of them - no written PO, no contract, just a few e-mails. What is the standard procedure here? Should I request a PO for the record / allocate an order number and enter the jobs in my order book / issue an invoice stating that there is no charge?

Thanks in advance,
Jackie


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:05
English to Dutch
+ ...
I would Dec 3, 2007

JackieMcC wrote:

Should I request a PO for the record / allocate an order number and enter the jobs in my order book / issue an invoice stating that there is no charge?

Thanks in advance,
Jackie


I would, for a number of reasons. Maybe not a PO, but yes, an order number and an invoice.
For a start, everybody keeps records and they wouldn't be accurate without it.

Second, maybe it's pro bono, but it's a real job and I assume you've done the work as accurately and nicely as you would have done with any other job. So deal with it like any other job.

Third, you spent time on it. Your records should show that, so you can keep track of what you did in this period of time.

An invoice will make clear to everyone - including yourself - the actual value of your work and also shows your professionalism. You can add a line, saying something like 'no payment expected' or maybe give a 100% discount....

And maybe - don't know if it's applicable in your situation - the amount of money stated on the invoice is deductible from taxes, as a gift.

My 2 cents

Margreet


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:05
English to Spanish
+ ...
Who are you trying to please? Dec 4, 2007

The only parties I could think of would be the tax authorities. They may not be interested, but they would be the ones to ask. If they are not, then you can keep or omit whatever records you wish.

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nordiste  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:05
Member (2005)
English to French
+ ...
French tax authorities don't know about volunteer work Dec 4, 2007

Even if you write an invoice and say "no charge" you won't get a tax deduction in France.

Only a money paiement made to an "association reconnue d'utilité publique" where the association signs you a specific tax deduction document can be used. And tax inspectors are very careful regarding these things.

Of course you can record the translation in your project manegement system - in your portfolio or whatever you like.


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Aisha Maniar  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:05
Member (2003)
Arabic to English
+ ...
Voluntary Sector Translation Dec 4, 2007

Hi Jackie,
I do a fair amount of "voluntary" translation (both for British and foreign organisations): most of it is pro bono and some of it is paid, either because the non-profit NGO is large enough to have a translation team/budget or because a smaller organisation has received a grant for a project and the cost of translation is covered in it. In the case that it is paid work, even though it is usually at a lower rate than I usually charge, I produce an invoice for my own purposes that I can present to the tax authorities if necessary, but do not send it to the NGO. Only in rare cases have NGOs asked for such invoices and then it is to justify their costs.
In the vast majority of cases, where the work is unpaid, I do not invoice it and the work is agreed (deadline, word count, etc.) over the phone or by email. I then proceed as I would with any other job. Although I have not inquired, I do not believe that there is any need to invoice the work (for GBP/EUR/etc.00.00?!) and I do not see why the tax authorities would be interested in invoices for jobs where there is no financial consideration involved. I suppose you can keep some sort of record for yourself if you would like to have an account of it.
As for recognition of your services, in my experience, most voluntary organisations are most grateful to receive such services from a professional and value the time and effort you have put in. In many cases, they are also professionals who have given up their time and are well aware of the cost of paying a translator/interpreter to do the same work!
In most cases, all they require is for you to sign a confidentiality agreement if you are dealing with confidential information and that it is all the paperwork required.
I hope that helps, Aisha


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Lorenzo Lilli  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:05
German to Italian
+ ...
I don't see the point Dec 4, 2007

Aisha Maniar wrote:

Although I have not inquired, I do not believe that there is any need to invoice the work (for GBP/EUR/etc.00.00?!) and I do not see why the tax authorities would be interested in invoices for jobs where there is no financial consideration involved.



Yes, I don't know the French tax system but an invoice for 0.00 Euro seems pointless to me. Invoicing and taxes are complicated already, why complicate them even more?


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:05
English to Dutch
+ ...
Dutch taxes.... Dec 4, 2007

....used to recognise time and/or resources given to volunteer work als costs/gifts that could be deductible.

I don't know if they still do, and I don't know the exact rules either, but keeping your work well documented surely would be one of them.

The idea behind this was the government's appreciation and recognition of (the importance of) volunteer work.

But given the responses in this thread, this does not seem to be applicable to other tax systems.


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