Keep these key characteristics in mind when hiring a professional translator.
- The translation provider should be a native speaker of the target language — this is a must!
If you work with an agency, ask about the backgrounds and credentials of team members. Hire providers who are familiar with your target audience. If you’re trying to reach a Latino community whose members are mostly immigrants from Mexico, you probably don’t want to hire a translation team from Spain because its translations might contain words and expressions unfamiliar to Spanish speakers from Mexico, unless the team has received localization training.
- The translation provider should be proficient in the source language.
In the case of most nonprofit organizations in the United States, the source language would be English. If you’re translating from English to Haitian Creole, you want to ensure the key translator has a thorough understanding of English so he or she can fully grasp what needs to be translated.
- The translation provider should have or hire only individuals with a degree or professional certification in translation.
It’s a common misconception that anyone who knows two languages can translate between them. By hiring a professional, you can be assured that your translator is trained in translation techniques and is knowledgeable about technology and resources to ensure you receive a high-quality product in a timely manner.
- The translation provider should have industry experience.
Ask how long the organization has been in business, and request a list of clients and samples of its translation projects.
- The translation provider should be reliable whether you choose an agency or a freelancer.
Freelancers have flexible work schedules, and you can develop a relationship with one person. But you may need a backup if that person gets sick, takes a full-time job or retires. An agency may have greater staff turnover and stricter working hours, but it is better equipped to handle volume. Agencies offer several people to review quality. Agencies can provide complementary and value-added services, including desktop publishing and marketing assistance.
Read our Guide to Great Content and Translations for Nonprofits for more tips and ideas.