A new, fully-automated translation center means that Translators without Borders can donate ten times as many translations to support humanitarian work around the globe. Translators without Borders is an independent nonprofit association dedicated to helping non-governmental organizations (NGOs) extend their humanitarian work by providing free, professional translations. The funds saved through the use of volunteer translations can then be used by the NGOs in the field, enabling them to extend the scope and reach of their humanitarian work.

While the objectives are different, the operational procedures of Translators without Borders are not dissimilar from those of a translation agency. The company must select the right clients, in this case the humanitarian NGOs, in order to ensure that their translation needs are in line with the organization’s scope, and it must select the right translators as well. Due to the nature of humanitarian work, Translators without Borders can only accept experienced professional translators since in most cases there is no time for reviewing the translations. Also like a translation agency, Translators without Borders matches the translation needs of the clients with the abilities, availability and willingness
of the translators in the pool of service providers and provides a workflow based on solid processes to maximize the deliverance of translations with a minimum of overhead.
When the Haiti earthquake brought an unprecedented number of volunteers from the translation community, Translators without Borders’ screening mechanisms were overwhelmed. To help it respond rapidly to the crisis, ProZ.com created a platform for screening translators and for posting jobs among the translators in the pool. This screening center proved useful, and the recruiting operation was substantially streamlined. However, the coordination of projects was still a demanding task, and this limited the scalability. Scalability is crucial because the contributions provided by Translators without Borders and the dedicated teams of volunteers, even if much appreciated and welcomed by the humanitarian NGOs, are but a drop of help in an ocean of need.
With this in mind, a new and improved platform was made available to Translators without Borders by ProZ.com in mid-2011. The new translation center (http://twb.translationcenter.org/workspace) incorporated the clients as active participants intheir translation projects and thus brought the whole translationworkflow into a shared environment.
Technology and community
To give an idea of the scale that the new translation center is making possible, Translators without Borders donated around one million words to charities in 2010. After less than a year using the translation center, it is currently translating the equivalent of four million words per year for humanitarian NGOs such as Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), UNICEF, Partners In Health and Oxfam. Within a few months Translators without Borders expects to add enough
volunteers and NGOs to increase this figure to ten million words per year —significant, considering that every dollar saved is another dollar available for caring for people at risk. Operations have expanded not only in volume but also in linguistic diversity, evolving from a few Eurocentric language pairs into more than 50 language pairs, including translations into Swahili, Yoruba, Tigrinya, Bengali and Haitian Creole.
One remarkable project was the localization by volunteers of GoodPlanet’s web page (www.desforetsetdeshommes.org), which involved over a quarter of a million words into 27 target languages (TLs), including Persian, Slovenian, Indonesian, Japanese, Finnish and Yoruba With this in mind, a new and improved platform was made available to Translators without Borders by ProZ.com in mid-2011. The new translation center (http://twb.translationcenter .org/workspace) incorporated the clients as active participants in their translation projects and thus brought the whole translation workflow into a shared environment.
See: Multilingual printed version (January/February 2012, p. 31-32)