Friday, December 23, 2011

Charitable Feelings and Translation

Though most of us who translate need to earn a living from our work, there are times when we will take on translation, editing, or writing jobs for no money. Mostly this is when we are feeling charitable and want to donate to an organization and when our donation comes in the form of our time and effort and not tangible money.

For example, I organized and edited the Bryn Mawr College Cookbook, a project that took months. All the proceeds went to my alma mater. I must confess that I was a bit surprised and offended when the college wrote me later that year to urge me to donate money to the school; I did a quick calculation and found that the time I’d spent putting the book together equaled several thousands of dollars worth of donations to the school, and that didn’t even include the time others had donated to the project or the proceeds the school received. Still, I was happy to do it.

But a university is not a charity. I’ve also done writing, editing, and translating for charitable organizations and for individuals, as a way of offering them some professional help that they might otherwise have had to pay for.

During this holiday season, I urge you to do likewise. If you can spare just a little of your time and your talents to help someone or an organization, I am sure that would be much appreciated.


Claire said...

Nice post and love the blog! I was wondering if you could recommend some good causes who could use some help? I've been looking for some voluntary translation work, but all the obvious options (UN Volunteers etc) seem to have enough translators already.

B.J. Epstein said...

That's a hard question, because it depends on your languages and your beliefs. If there is a charity that you would normally donate money to, you could always offer to do some copy editing or translation for them instead.
On her blog (, Erika Dreifus mentioned and while they aren't looking for donations of services, I did find their projects really worthwhile and donated some money.

Best wishes,