Volonteer Translations
Thread poster: Anna Fangrath

Anna Fangrath  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:41
Jun 18, 2008


I would like to do some volonteer translations to get practice in translating.
My language pairs are EN- DE, RU-DE
Can anyone tell me where to find such projects?
Do you know any active projects that need translators?
thank you in advance

Direct link Reply with quote

Jack Qin  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:41
English to Chinese
+ ...
Hi Anna Jun 18, 2008

You can send your CV to translation agencies in the Blue Board, stating that you are willing to offer free translation. In my opinion, that will work.


Direct link Reply with quote

Nicolas Coyer  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:41
Spanish to French
+ ...
Why giving away translations to profit-driven agencies? Jun 19, 2008

I don't think agencies need more bargains than they already have.
Some not-for-profit entities usually post such requests here.
There is this one (see below) for example that connects women across the world working for peace. I've been suscribed to their distribution list for translation projects but have not had the time yet to work for them.
You could browse the nature preservation org sites, as well.
You also have ongoing projects, like freeware (e.g. Mozilla).
The choices are plenty. It all depends on what you like.

Direct link Reply with quote

Niraja Nanjundan  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:11
German to English
Articles, forum discussions and Translators Without Borders Jun 19, 2008

First of all, Nicholas is right - never offer to do voluntary work for translation agencies - most of them will just exploit you.

There is an article in the knowledge base about pro bono translation work that might be useful:

Sources of Pro Bono Translation Work by Anna Fitzgerald

You can also try Translators Without Borders:


This topic has been discussed several times in the forums. If you do a search for "volunteer work" or "pro bono translations" you will find most of the discussions with some useful tips.

I hope you really benefit from doing volunteer work. All the best!


[Edited at 2008-06-19 03:42]

Direct link Reply with quote

Paula Gallego
Local time: 15:41
English to Spanish
+ ...
An example Jun 19, 2008

Hi Anna!

I used to work for Front Line - The International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
Dublin (Ireland)
E-mail: info@frontlinedefenders.org
Web site: http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/
Maybe they have something for you. I translated human rights texts from English to Spanish, but they have many languages in their website.

I also think that you shouldn't do free translations for agencies. Is our work as translators!

Good luck!

Direct link Reply with quote

Local time: 13:41
English to Arabic
Ashoka Jun 19, 2008

Check the Ashoka website. They need volunteer translators in many language pairs.

Direct link Reply with quote

Elizabeth Joy Pitt de Morales  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:41
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Another option Jun 19, 2008

Hi Anna,

Here's another option for you:


They bring together low-budget NGO's with student/beginning translators. You sign up and they notify you when there's a need that fits your profile.

I do agree that working for free for profit-driven agencies is not the way to go. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities out there that are perfect for you to get your feet wet without taking work away from professional translators. Also, think about this: if you provide "apprentice" services for free for an agency, at what point do they become "professional" services and you begin to charge for them? How and when will you convince the agency that they should start paying you a fair rate today for something you gave them for free last week?

Quality agencies look for professional translators, and those that would accept "apprentice" translations for free (and then charge the client for them) are not the kind of agencies that earn loyalty from their clients or respect from their service providers.


Direct link Reply with quote

xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:41
Spanish to English
+ ...
free translations to agencies? Jun 19, 2008

Jack Qin wrote:

You can send your CV to translation agencies in the Blue Board, stating that you are willing to offer free translation. In my opinion, that will work.


3 reasons NOT to do this:

1. why give something for free to a profit-making entity?
2. why encourage sub-standard quality?
3. why undercut real professionals ... including yourself?

Another issue is to offer oneself as a volunteer to a NON-profitmaking body.

Direct link Reply with quote

Anna Fangrath  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:41
Thanks! Jun 19, 2008

thank you for your replys
will try all of these options except translating for agencies for free
I think too it´ll undermine paid translators

[Edited at 2008-06-19 12:58]

Direct link Reply with quote

Richard Bartholomew  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:41
Member (2007)
German to English
Wikipedia Jun 22, 2008

I'm surprised that noone has mentioned Wikipedia. Go to http://ru.wikipedia.org/. Pick an article on a topic that interests you. If the article has no German translation, translate it and post it under http://de.wikipedia.org.

Direct link Reply with quote

Anna Sylvia Villegas Carvallo
Local time: 06:41
English to Spanish
:( Jun 22, 2008

What a pity that you don't handle my language pair, I'd give you a lot of work to volunteer!
(I'm kidding, I would pay you.)icon_smile.gif

Direct link Reply with quote

lexical  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:41
Portuguese to English
There is a broader question, Jun 22, 2008

.. though not one that I suppose concerns you much at present, which is this: why should a not-for-profit organisation (however admirable the work they are doing) receive services for nothing? The natural corollary is that the service provider (freelance translator - you or me) absorbs a loss on behalf of the charity.

Now, my issue is this: if I think a charity is worth supporting (and as it happens, I contribute regularly to a small number of worthwhile third world charities), I do so out of my income, enabling them to decide how to spend my cash. But I they wish me to translate something, they pay the same fees as anyone else. That way, we can be more certain that they have the necessary public support because they have the financial resources stemming from that level of support.

I was particularly grieved a year or so ago to be approached to provide free translation services for some greenery-yellary world summit that was proposing to fly people from all over the world free of charge and levy no delegate registration fee, but was quite happy to exploit freelance translators for its own ends to interptet and translate the proceedings for free.

And I'm sorry to say it succeeded.

Direct link Reply with quote

RachelG  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:41
German to English
RE: Pro Bono translations - for and against Jul 3, 2008

Hi everyone,

I am a new student member of Proz. I have just passed the first year of a Diploma/MA in Translation and wanting to get some experience in the 'real world'. My combination is German into English. I live in England.

I see that there are arguments for and against doing volunteer translations so I'm a bit confused as to what to do now! I initially thought about doing some for free but after reading this forum am undecided. I saw (on another forum I think) that someone advised having any 'beginner' translations checked by an experienced professional. This of course makes sense.One can then get professional feedback. They mentioned paying a translator to do this. So, potentially, I could do a free or paid translation for a non-profit organisation/charity and pay a translator to check it? Does this sound intelligent or not? I would appreciate any advice anyone could give me!

Also, as I don't yet have any translation software, would WORD be ok to start with? I know it would depend on the organisation one was doing the work for but any advice on this would also be appreciated.

many thanks

Direct link Reply with quote

Suzette Martin-Johnson
French to English
+ ...
Why not Jul 6, 2008

Hi Rachel,

Microsoft Office, the internet, and good dictionaries are all you need to get started!

There's nothing wrong with doing volunteer translations - but don't just do it for experience, do it for good causes that you believe in. I've done it a couple of times in the past, and been satisfied....and the organizations I've done it for, grateful.

Direct link Reply with quote

Louise Souter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:41
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sources of Pro Bono Translation Work Aug 27, 2008

The author of the article above stated that:
"If you have little translation experience, it is a good idea to seek the help of a seasoned translator to proof-read your work and offer suggestions. As you will usually not receive feedback from those for whom you are doing volunteer work, this is a good way to ensure that you make progress while offering your services."

This makes sense but where/how do yo find professional translators willing/able to take the time to do that?

[Edited at 2008-08-27 17:34]

Direct link Reply with quote

To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Volonteer Translations

Advanced search

Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »
BaccS – Business Accounting Software
Modern desktop project management for freelance translators

BaccS makes it easy for translators to manage their projects, schedule tasks, create invoices, and view highly customizable reports. User-friendly, ProZ.com integration, community-driven development – a few reasons BaccS is trusted by translators!

More info »

  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search