Volunteer Organizations for Translators

By Marcela Reyes, MBA on November 5, 2013

If you are a newbie in the translation industry and lack the necessary experience to promote your services, you can always sharpen your skills while contributing to better, more connected communities around the globe.

Here are some great organizations where you can find volunteer opportunities as a translator.

  1. Translations for Progress. Translations for Progress’s mission is to facilitate communication within the global grass roots community and to create opportunities for language students and professionals to get involved in social issues.
  2. Givology.org. Givology is a 100% volunteer-run social enterprise that connects an Internet user to grassroots education projects and student scholarships around the world.
  3. Babels. Babels is an online giving marketplace where any Internet user can browse and sponsor students and education projects in the developing world.
  4. Ashoka.org. Ashoka is an organization that supports social entrepreneurship and citizen changemaking. Its mission is to identify and support leading social entrepreneurs through a social venture capital approach with the goal of elevating the citizen sector to a competitive level equal to the business sector.
  5. Idealist.orgIdealist, run by Action Without Borders, allows nonprofit organizations to post event information, volunteering opportunities, jobs, resources and services. Individuals can then search this information and sign up for volunteer opportunities, apply for jobs, etc. The website also provides information produced by the nonprofit itself, such as information on volunteering abroad.
  6. Translators Without Borders. Translators Without Borders is a non-profit association set up to provide pro bono translation services for humanitarian non-profits. Today it assists organizations, such as Doctors Without Borders, who are then able to use the funds they save to extend their humanitarian work.
  7. United Nations Volunteers. The UNV Online Volunteering Service connects volunteers with organizations working for sustainable human development. Volunteers contribute their skills online to help organizations address development challenges. Organizations collaborate with online volunteers over the Internet to strengthen the impact of their development work.
  8. World Volunteer Web. The World Volunteer Web, operated by the Online Volunteering Service of the United Nations, supports the volunteer community by serving as a global clearinghouse for information and resources linked to volunteerism that can be used for campaigning, advocacy and networking. It is an online hub where the community can meet, share resources and coordinate activities to mobilize volunteer action in support of the Millennium Development Goals.  With a constituency comprised of over 20,000 organizations and individuals, the World Volunteer Web helps to catalyze partnerships among volunteer stakeholders from all continents.
  9. Watching America. Watching America reflects global opinion about the United States, helping Americans and non-Americans alike understand what the world thinks of current issues that involve the U.S. This is done by providing news and views about the United States published in other countries.
  10. The Rosetta Foundation. The Rosetta Foundation supports the not-for-profit activities of the localization and translation communities. It works, internationally with those who want to provide equal access to information across languages, independent of economic or market considerations, including localization and translation companies, technology developers, not-for-profit and non-governmental organizations.
  11. Kiva.org.Kiva.org is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend to an entrepreneur in the developing world. The Kiva Translation Program offers the opportunity to use your skills to make a direct contribution, network with other Kiva volunteers and build your resume. Volunteering from their own homes, Kiva volunteers translate entrepreneurs’ profiles into English, which are then posted for funding at Kiva.org.
  12. TED. The TED Open Translation Project brings TEDTalks beyond the English-speaking world by offering subtitles, interactive transcripts and the ability for any talk to be translated by volunteers worldwide.
  13. VolunteerMatch. VolunteerMatch is an American nonprofit organization, best known for its web services, that aims to strengthen communities by making it easier for people to find good causes. The organization also partners with businesses to provide tools and services to help companies, brands, campuses and government successfully manage volunteer programs and support corporate social responsibility initiatives. VolunteerMatch works with a broad range of clients in technology, manufacturing, packaged goods, financial services and other industries. Since its launch in 1998, the organization has won several awards for its innovative approach to social change, its social impact, and its sustainable business model.
  14. Free Software Foundation Europe. Free Software Foundation Europe’s goal is to reach as many people as possible and include them in their activities to promote, help and support the Free Software movement. To achieve this, they want to make their published texts and website available in several languages.
  15. Global Voices. Global Voices Online is an international network of bloggers, translators, and citizen journalists that follow, report, and summarize what is going on in the blogosphere in every corner of the world.
  16. Human Rights Education Associates. Human Rights Education Associates (HREA) is an international non-governmental organization that supports human rights learning; the training of activists and professionals; the development of educational materials and programming; and community-building through on-line technologies. HREA is dedicated to quality education and training to promote understanding, attitudes and actions to protect human rights, and to foster the development of peaceable, free and just communities.
  17. ICVolunteers. ICVolunteers is an international non-profit organization specializing in the field of communication. It recruits, trains and coordinates volunteers for non-profit projects (conference support, cyber-volunteering, language services), both for its own programs and in the context of support provided to its partners.
  18. Indigenous Peoples’ Center for Documentation, Research and Information (doCip). A quadrilingual center, liaising Indigenous peoples with international organizations, that works with all Indigenous communities and organizations who request help and provides services in English, French, Spanish and Russian.
  19. International Children’s Digital Library. The ICDL Foundation’s goal is to build a collection of books that represents outstanding historical and contemporary books from throughout the world.  Ultimately, the Foundation aspires to have every culture and language represented so that every child can know and appreciate the riches of children’s literature from the world community.
  20. Khan Academy. Khan Academy is a non-profit educational website. Its mission is to provide “a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.”
  21. Migrants Rights International. Migrants Rights International (MRI) is a non-governmental organization and federation of migrants and migrants’ rights organizations, trade unions and faith-based groups within the various global regions promoting and defending the human rights of migrants.
  22. National Language Service Corps. The National Language Service Corps (NLSC) is a nonprofit civilian organization administered by the U.S. federal government. The mission of the NLSC is to recruit a readily-available pool of individuals who have expertise in languages that are important to the security and welfare of the nation.
  23. One Laptop per Child. The mission of One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is to create educational opportunities for the world’s poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning.

If you know of any other volunteer organizations, please share them here.