If you work for a nonprofit, you’ve seen the funding from both private and public sources diminish as the demand for the services you provide increased in recent years. Your constituents may be mostly Spanish speakers or you could serve people with a wide range of linguistic backgrounds. Any good nonprofit will have bilingual or multilingual people on staff to serve their non-English speaking clients. But when your development staff or grant writer solicits new funding, do they build in a line item for translation costs?
If this doesn’t happen, your organization should evaluate why not. Do either of the following reasons for not having translation as a built-in cost sound familiar?
We have bilingual people on staff who can also translate documents.
In many cases, your bilingual employees may be able to produce a fairly good translation from English into Spanish. But as funding dollars decrease, your already committed employees may be stretched too thin taking on other tasks to keep the agency running. Asking them to translate something because they speak two languages may be pushing their skill set and stressing an already busy employee. And while they may be fluent in Spanish, if they don’t have a background in translation, they will not give you the high quality documents that the people you serve deserve.
We’re trimming the fat from our budget to deal with the bad economy.
Of course keeping the lights on and programs running is a priority to any nonprofit. But if those you serve speak any language other than English, outreach and education in the language they understand best should be critical to your agency’s vision. If you need documents in Spanish to be able to reach out to clients, then providing the highest quality translations should be central to your approach. If Spanish speakers can’t understand the services you provide or information you share, then you are ultimately undermining your agency’s mission. By keeping translation services as a line item, you will ensure that you are connecting with your target population.
Many translation agencies want to assist nonprofits in continuing the important work they do and support agencies with discounts. While outsourcing English to Spanish translations may seem like an avoidable cost, your agency will see the fruits of this investment in your improved ability to connect with those you are charged with serving.
Transpanish offers discounts for Nonprofit Organizations.