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Choosing a Language Service Partner for Nonprofits

If your nonprofit works with non-English speaking clients or employs people with low English proficiency, then it is vital that you are able to communicate with them in a way that will minimize misunderstandings and get your point across clearly. Today's society is more multicultural than ever before. People with varying backgrounds interact regularly. Whether online or in-person, the likelihood that your message will reach someone who does not have the English skills to fully grasp it is high. Because of this, it is of vital importance that you choose a language services provider that will help you bridge that gap as efficiently as possible. Let's go over some of the qualities that you'll want to look for when picking translation or interpretation services for your organization.


This one sounds silly. But a lot of people think that they can make do with machine translation services provided by companies like Google or Microsoft. These services can be fantastic if you want to get the general idea of what a web page in another language is saying, and the technology is certainly getting better as time goes by. The reality though, is that real language comprehension involves nuance that a computer can simply not pick up on.

Whether it is to formulate a compelling argument, or to present data in an easily digestible way, nonprofits rely heavily on having a powerful command of language. Such intricacies in the way various languages work simply cannot be matched by a machine.

This is especially true for an organization where precise understanding by all parties is of the utmost importance. You cannot effectively carry out your nonprofit's mission if you are not communicating as effectively as possible.


Hiring a human instead of relying on a machine loses its advantage quickly if you do not select the right human for the job.

  1. Experience in the language - Someone who took a few years of Spanish in high school might well be able to do a rough translation of your document into the language. But if this person does not fully understand the target culture then the translation will not read much better than if a machine had translated it for you.
  2. Experience with nonprofits - It is also important that your translator has a thorough understanding of how nonprofits function. If you are an advocacy group, you'll need a translator who can be just as persuasive in the target language as your materials are in your source language. Research organizations need somehow who can understand the complexities of the source material.
  3. Check and balances - An ideal provider will not only employ expert translators with experience in a wide range of industries, but they will have several layers of checks and balances built into their system. A good company will include at least one round of edits in that translation to catch any errors that might have been made. A cheap one will send the work directly from the translator to you.

Hiring a translator or interpreter should be seen as very much the same process as hiring the writer to craft the English version. Simply speaking English is not enough to qualify someone to write with the level of professionalism that you want to project. It stands to reason then, that simply speaking the two languages involved is not enough to qualify someone to take that writer's words and effectively convey them in another language. 


The best translators or interpreters in the world are not worth a dime if they are not there when you need them. When selecting someone to provide language services for your nonprofit, you want to make sure that they have a quick turnaround time so that you will never have to worry about communication problems.

As a nonprofit, you often have to respond quickly to current events, pending legislation, or any other of life's challenges. When life comes at you fast and you need to react, you don't want to be waiting weeks for your translation company to get a document back to your or to provide you with an interpreter.

It isn't just the work itself you need speed on. If there's a problem with a translation and a client is waiting, you want to be sure that your partner's customer support is responsive as well.

Language Selection

In the United States, an estimated 61 million people use a language other than English in their everyday lives. Many of those people are not going to have the English skills to communicate as effectively as your nonprofit needs to in order to do its job to the best of its ability. Although many of those millions speak Spanish as their primary language, Spanish is certainly not the only language you will encounter.

For many nonprofits, it is becoming increasingly necessary to have a global reach. If that sounds like your nonprofit, then not only do you need to speak the languages of locals with limited English skills, but you'll want to be able to spread your message far and wide, in as many languages as possible.

Although almost every provider will have services in place to handle the most common languages, you'll want a partner that will have you covered even when someone speaking the most obscure of languages come knocking at your door.

There are over 7000 languages and dialects spoken around the world. No language services provider can cover all of them. But you should choose one that covers significantly more than just the most commonly spoken languages.

We Can Help

Language Network vets all of our translators and interpreters to ensure that they can provide you with the highest level of service. We have people who are well versed in a wide range of industries. Whether you need on-site interpreting, phone interpreting, translation or localization, we can provide you with the highest quality service with a speedy turnaround. Please contact us today to discuss how we can make your nonprofit run smoothly even when language barriers arise.


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