Charity Work - When to start charging?
Thread poster: SamuelDJones

SamuelDJones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:17
Member (2016)
French to English
+ ...
Feb 15, 2016

Dear all,

For the past year or so, I have been supporting an agricultural charity by translating many documents, including meeting agendas, e-mails, leaflets as well as some of their website content from Spanish/French to English. These translations would usually amount to about 500-800 words and with them being a charity, I welcomed the experience and so have not charged a penny.

However, recently I was asked to translate 2 documents, both of which contained approx. 4000 words. I am on really good terms with the people working at this charity and at the end of 2015, they sent me a Thank You letter along with one of their calendars But, while I appreciate the work that they have sent my way up to now and I feel that my linguistic and translation skills have greatly improved because of this experience, I feel that this most recent project is too large to be translated for nothing.

I want to continue supporting this charity, but am not sure how to approach this situation.

Any ideas?

Thank you in advance,

Sam

[Edited at 2016-02-15 13:59 GMT]


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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 11:17
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
A bit of math? Feb 15, 2016

SamuelDJones wrote:

However, recently I was asked to translate 2 documents, both of which contained approx. 4000 words. I am on really good terms with the people working at this charity and at the end of 2015, they sent me a Thank You letter along with one of their calendars But, while I appreciate the work that they have sent my way up to now and I feel that my linguistic and translation skills have greatly improved because of this experience, I feel that this most recent project is too large to be translated for nothing.


Well, you could politely tell them that you'll be able to translate those documents in the same amount of time you would need to translate 10-16 of the 500-800 words docs they usually send you, as you also have to put food on your table, from time to time... (I hope they're not imposing deadlines on you as well)


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:17
Member (2008)
Italian to English
My opinion Feb 15, 2016

My opinion:

As you say, you've benefited a great deal by having been able to develop and perfect your translating skills, thanks to having done this charity work. I suppose that's been the payoff.

But it does sound like an awful lot of work for nothing. Maybe it's time to pass on this work to somebody else?

I can't see any civilised way of suddenly asking the charity to start paying you.



My only caveat in all of this would be: is this so-called charity actually a rich organisation? Here in the UK we've been having a lot of discussion recently about so-called charities that actually make a lot of money and pay their top directors six-figure salaries. If your charity is one of those, I would go for it and tell them that you now want to be paid the market rate for your excellent and much-appreciated work.


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Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:17
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
Spare time charity work Feb 15, 2016

Hi Sam,
You could accept the jobs but make it clear you can only do them for free in your spare time so with no deadline or with a deadline say 2+ months from now. At the same time you could explain you've started working as a pro and send them an estimate to do the jobs at your rate by an earlier deadline.

Otherwise you could just say, thanks but you're too busy to take the jobs.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 11:17
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Charge them for the larger jobs Feb 15, 2016

I see no reason why you should not charge them for 4000 words.

I do this with a charity - it does have money, but it has even more expenses, and a lot of the work is done by volunteers.

I translate a page or a couple of hundred words for them free of charge several times a year, and I spend about six hours doing a summary in English of their quarterly magazine. I reckon this is roughly equivalent in time to what other volunteers do, and that is my contribution.

The charity also has a larger text about once a year, often up to 10 000 words, and I charge for that. In this case the translation is interesting and not very difficult, so I charge at the lower end of my scale, but realistically for the time it takes me.

Some years they even have a sponsor who pays for the translation and setting the text up.

In your position I would tell them straight out that you are happy to do small jobs free, but you will charge for anything over - say - a thousand words, or more than an evening's work.

Decide with yourself what to do, and stick to it.
Another possibility is to charge for everything and then give them a donation in money.


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:17
German to English
non-profit does not mean they have no budget Feb 15, 2016

If what they are doing is very important to you and you are in a financial situation that makes you feel like you ought to be donating +/- 400 euros plus the value of the other translations to a single charity, then you should certainly continue making your donations to them.
If you have the spare time and look at your work for them as ordinary volunteering using your special skills, then that is fine, too. Just make sure that the amount of work you are doing remains proportional to how much extra time you have and how much time you would donate to the charity under different circumstances.

On the other hand, the fact that they are charity does not mean that they do not have a budget (regardless of what they are spending on executives and advertising). Make them a normal offer for the large project and explain why it is reasonable for you to do so. If you do not feel comfortable about the other work either, then give them a grace period of several months or actively help them find an alternative translator and make them an offer for a paid collaboration.

If you want to donate some amount of money, then donate an appropriate amount from money you make through the projects or give them a rebate that works out to the same amount.


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:17
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
I'm not sure if you mean "not-for-profit" by "charity" Feb 15, 2016

Michael Wetzel wrote:


On the other hand, the fact that they are charity does not mean that they do not have a budget (regardless of what they are spending on executives and advertising).


Some large not-for-profit organizations pay high salaries to their employees and their Executive Directors could earn half a million or higher per year.


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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:17
Member (2014)
English to German
Explain Feb 15, 2016

How much you enjoy volunteering for them and that you very much support their cause. However, although you are happy to translate a couple of hundred words for free (and continue to do so), such large texts take too long to do for free and would have to be paid for.

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Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:17
French to German
+ ...
3 hours per month for me Feb 15, 2016

I do translate and revise for free for an NGO since about a year. But only 3 hours per month, not more.

Translate two documents of 4 000 words each seems a lot to me. I wouldn't and couldn't do it. We also need to eat and have some free time.


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Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:17
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
My thought exactly Feb 15, 2016

Tom in London wrote:

Maybe it's time to pass on this work to somebody else?


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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:17
Member (2014)
English to German
Why? Feb 16, 2016

Michele Fauble wrote:

Tom in London wrote:

Maybe it's time to pass on this work to somebody else?



Maybe they could become a client? They must understand that people cannot give unlimited time to volunteering and may agree to pay. It's worth a try.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:17
Member (2008)
Italian to English
" Feb 16, 2016

Gabriele Demuth wrote:

Michele Fauble wrote:

Tom in London wrote:

Maybe it's time to pass on this work to somebody else?



Maybe they could become a client? They must understand that people cannot give unlimited time to volunteering and may agree to pay. It's worth a try.


As my mother used to say

"Give them an inch and they'll take a yard".


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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:17
Member (2014)
English to German
Of course they will try ... Feb 16, 2016

but maybe this is the time to set boundaries.

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SamuelDJones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:17
Member (2016)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Great advice Feb 16, 2016

Thank you all for your input.

So, I get the general feeling from the thread that it is worth asking for remuneration for projects of this scale and that if this is not an option, then perhaps the job could at least be shared among several other freelancers as I myself will not be able to commit enough spare time to it. For info, a rough deadline of 'within the next few months' has been given.

However, while they have been kind enough to ensure that no other jobs are sent my way in the meantime so as not to overload my timetable, I would prefer to charge for this project (at a reduced rate because of our good relationship), complete the work and move on to the next one as soon as possible. I will continue to do the smaller jobs for free, but request that the larger jobs be charged at an agreed rate.

I agree with Gabriele's point above that it is probably time to set boundaries..

Thanks again for all your help, guys, and see you in the next post!

Sam


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